IT’S a welcoming development to finally have a policy that clearly spells out how we must reward our esteemed sports women and men for their outstanding achievements.
But the question on my mind is: why is team sport not catered for in the National Sports Reward Policy and why are continental football competitions not recognised as well?. We have the national senior football team, the Brave Warriors, competing in the Afcon, Chan and Cosafa cups, but these tournaments are, seemingly, not worth acknowledging and rewarding those who do well in them.
It’s hard to fathom that those who penned the sports reward policy, who in this case were the stakeholders in the sport industry themselves, did not see the need to reward sport teams as well. Apart from football, other team sports like netball, hockey and rugby are omitted in the policy. How do we, as a nation, expect these athletes to be motivated if their contributions are not appreciated or recognised?
Surely, it is only fair and just for Namibia to reward all athletes who excel in the various competitions, whether it’s individual or team sport. We cannot be selective in rewarding some individual athletes only at the expense of those who do well in international team competitions.
However, we still do not know how much will be budgeted for rewarding sports men and women in the next financial year, especially at a time when the Ministry of Sport, Youth and Nations Service is struggling to secure financial resources for sport development activities.
It is also important to note that other countries have ‘sports funds’ that cater for all sports related issues, such as sports development and the welfare of the athletes, including rewarding the outstanding achievers.
In rewarding our top achieving sportsmen and women, fairness should prevail across the board. The business sector must also play a pivotal role in injecting the necessary funding to supplement Government contributions, which are obviously not sufficient to fund sporting activities in the country.
While commending Government for crafting the National Sports Reward Policy, we should not lose focus on the need to improve the country’s sports facilities. We cannot expect our athletes to be competitive at the highest level with most national sports facilities in their current dilapidated form. Most of our stadiums are in a deplorable state and in need of urgent renovations.
This situation is worsened by the fact that regional governors do not seem to prioritise sport infrastructure development, as they have other more pressing issues that need funding.
I sincerely hope that in approving the incentive package for our athletes, Parliament will also revisit the issue of sports funding. Namibian athletes have great potential to excel internationally but this cannot happen without proper facilities and without tangible incentives.
Time has also come to have the outdated Sports Act of 1990 amended if we want to compete meaningfully at regional, continental and world lev
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