… As N$1.8m Debmarine sponsorship boost lights the way
NETBALL Namibia (NN) is on a crusade to rescue the image of the sport at local and international level, with its unfolding plans recently being given a massive boost by Debmarine Namibia’s three-year commitment to pump a total of N$1.8 million into netball.
Confidente’s John Tuerijama (JT) sat down with NN President Lynda Mutenda (LM) this week to unpack the challenges facing the sport code and what plans have been put in place to deal with them.
JT: What are some of the programmes that Netball Namibia intends to implement, in terms of rescuing the sport and reviving the regional netball leagues?
LM: Netball Namibia has started with establishing and strengthening regional structures, in terms of bench, umpire and coaching officials’ training and grading, and the hosting of regional championships. As you are aware, a netball match can only take place if there is a qualified bench, umpires and coaching official.
JT: How much money has Netball Namibia received from the Namibia Sports Commission, and how was the annual grant spent?
LM: I will not disclose the amount, but would like to inform you that Namibia Sports Commission paid for Netball Namibia’s participation in the just-ended Africa Netball Championship, held in Uganda. The funds are also used to pay our affiliation fees to Africa Netball and International Netball Federation (INF). As a country, we cannot participate or host international games, if we are not affiliated to these bodies.
JT: How many regions are affiliated to Netball Namibia, and what are the requirements for a region to be an affiliate?
LM: So far, 10 out of the 14 regions are affiliated to Netball Namibia. Each region is supposed to have a regional netball executive committee, which is elected at a fully represented annual general meeting (AGM). This committee is responsible for the management of the regional netball league. The region must have an active league and pay affiliation fees to Netball Namibia.
JT: Netball Namibia has been accused of only concentrating on the Khomas region, when selecting national teams. It has also been said that national teams do not represent the demographics of the country. What is your response to these accusations?
LM: Generally, the Khomas region, and Windhoek as the capital city, attracts people from other regions, who come to study and look for greener pastures. This is also the case with our netball players. The players you are referring to come from other regions to Windhoek, to either study or find jobs. Second to Khomas is the Erongo region, and the same principle applies. I therefore do not agree with these statements. Khomas has an active and continuous league, which gives opportunities to players to enhance their performances, compared to other regions, where players have to travel long distances to play their league games.
JT: Deputy Sport, Youth and National Service Minister, Agnes Tjongarero, alleged during the Debmarine sponsorship announcement that netball development has largely taken place in Central Namibia, at the expense of other regions. What led Netball Namibia to concentrate on the central parts of the country?
LM: What the deputy minister is referring to is that now that we have the funds, we must reach out and support the regions, while helping them to establish their structures and manage their leagues. Historically it has been very difficult to reach our affiliates, due to lack of resources.
JT: In monetary terms, how much does Netball Namibia need to successfully implement its programs, apart from the N$1.8 million sponsorship from Debmarine?
LM: As mentioned before, the Debmarine Namibia sponsorship is a good initiative, as netball will be played at grassroots level in the regions. These players will eventually showcase their talent at regional tournaments, and will be selected for the national team. This is historic for netball in Namibia.
The funds that are needed now are for the national premier netball league to be played by competitive netball clubs around the country, in every regional capital. We also need to increase participation, in terms of males playing netball.
JT: The Debmarine sponsorship announcement included that N$10 000 goes to each region, to establish their individual netball leagues. How does Netball Namibia intend on helping the regions establish these leagues?
LM: Apart from establishing structures and leagues, the individual regions must have functional bank accounts and treasurers, who will manage their funds. There also needs to be three signatories to an individual region’s bank account.
JT: Besides the annual senior national netball championship and the upcoming Debmarine Namibia 5-Nations tournament, what other planned activities and programs are scheduled for the remainder of the year and next year?
LM: The regional and the 5-Nations tournaments will take place for the next three years. We will also continue offering bench, coach and umpiring training to our officials.
JT: What are some of the key areas that Netball Namibia wants to address by harnessing the annual N$600 000 Debmarine sponsorship for the next three years? Does this include Netball Namibia’s quest to ensure that the country improves its international ranking?
LM: Participation at internationally-sanctioned events, such the 5-Nations tournament will allow us to maintain and improve on our African and international rankings.
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