… Team sports feels unfairly treated
By John Tuerijama
SPORTS federations have expressed mixed views on the National Sports Reward Policy recently approved by Cabinet. Netball Namibia (NN), while welcoming the initiative by government to reward sports men and women who excel, expressed unhappiness over what it termed different treatment of individual athletes and team sports. Responding to questions from Confidente this week, NN secretary general, Imelda Nerongo, said while some players were using their own funds to represent Namibia, there were disparities over how winners of individual sports codes were being treated as compared to teams winning competitions. She bemoaned the failure to consult with sports federations prior to the crafting of the sports rewarding policy, charging that the policy approved by Cabinet largely focused on individual sporting activities. Nerongo added that with the little information at hand on the policy, she was nonetheless happy to see that funds will now be availed for athletes preparing to compete at international events. “I trust this includes team sports also, as the lack of funds limits teams from preparing as they should, with no training camps, and players based outside town are brought in a few days before travel and no international friendly matches are organised. “Netball Namibia also appreciates the inclusion of compensation for the coaches, currently our coaches are voluntary national coaches, as the federation cannot afford to pay them. We have nothing to give them after the team’s return (from competitions),” bemoaned the netball SG. Nerongo expressed concern over the reward policy only focusing on rewarding excellence by winning and obtaining medals, whilst athletes, irrespective of the outcome of their participation, sacrificed their finances to represent the country and by virtue should be compensated. Athletics Namibia (AN) President Erwin Naimwhaka, said although he had not yet scrutinised the sport rewarding policy, the intent of the policy was commendable. “Good incentives have always resulted in improved performances and we are confident that if they are implemented as per the intention of the policy, then the performance and standards (of athletes) will definitely improve and we should be able to see our athletes making more inroads on the international stages,” said Naimwhaka. “This, however, has to be accompanied by a commensurate investment in the local events and infrastructure. If we lose sight of the importance of local events then we may have a good reward policy and system that no one will be able to benefit from, because the platforms are lacking to enable them to develop to the levels required to benefit from such good reward policy,” he said. He said if the local events do not get the support required, then the system will continue to favour those with resources to invest in their training and neglect the talents from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds. “Equally, I hope the reward system will also be able to accommodate and reward national events such as the national championships. We should not just place too much value on international events at the expense of local events. We have to see value in our local events and give them appropriate importance through our reward systems as well,” stressed the AN president. Placing focus on local national events, Naimwhaka said, will allow Namibia to create and develop the critical mass of athletes that will make sports competitive locally and be able to develop to the standards required to make inroads on the international stages, and by so doing be able to benefit from the attractive incentives contained in the sport reward policy. Naimwhaka said the reward policy should also be viewed within the context of the whole Government budget for sports activities. “It entails investment into sport infrastructure and resources to conduct sport activities locally, and provisions for regional, continental and international participation. In terms of athletics, we will require a minimum of N$10 million to be able to conduct an appropriate athletic programme. At the moment we are operating at less than ten percent of that, largely provided for by the private sector,” he said. The athletics boss urged the private sector to continue playing an important role to keep sports in Namibia alive. “We are grateful to companies such as Coca Cola, MTC, Old Mutual, Sanlam, Securitas, Rossing Uranium, Husab Mine, QKR Navachab Gold, Spar Namibia, Nedbank and Bank Windhoek, whose support has enabled us to produce athletes that qualify for international events such as the Olympics, the World Championships and Commonwealth Games.” “The support has, however, been biased towards road running and that has shown through road running being more successful as evidenced by Helalia Johannes winning gold at the Commonwealth Games in Australia,” he said. On infrastructure development, Naimwhaka said that the sports reward policy should not be looked at in isolation but together with all the other sports aspects as prerequisites that have to be in place for it to work. “If it is not accompanied by improved planning and development of sport infrastructure, including human resources, development of coaches and event officials, then it will become a good policy that is not able to benefit its intended beneficiaries. That means, addressing the backlog in sports infrastructure development that currently exists,” he said.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015