By John Tuerijama
THE Namibia Canoe and Rowing Association (NCRA) has enlisted the services of German-born Kathren Kruze in an effort to ensure and increase the team’s competitive edge at the 2020 Olympic Games billed for Tokyo, Japan. NCRA’s president Mike Haimbodi told Confidente this week that the association is currently finalising Kruze’s work permit. Kruze was recommended by the German Rowing Federation and the International Canoe Federation to help prepare the 15-member team until the end of 2019. Namibia booked her place at the Tokyo Olympic Games when the ‘Land of the Brave’ clinched the 2017 African Championship after beating neighbouring South Africa last year. Commenting on the team composition, which is made up of only men, Haimbodi said the majority of female athletes from the national team that last competed in France quit canoeing while others opted to concentrate on other careers. “Unfortunately we only have an all-male team. A young female team from Block G in Rehoboth will also enjoy the expertise of the German coach and perhaps in future they can take canoe as a sport,” he said. Haimbodi said Namibia’s rowing sensation and the reigning African Champion, Maike Dickmann, is likely to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games. Dickmann recently won the European Championship as well. Dickmann will compete in next year’s Africa Championship scheduled for Tunis, Tunisia. Dickmann’s victory last year saw her getting awarded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) bursary. Haimbodi said if South Africa fails to book a place in Tokyo next year, Namibia will be the only African contender in the polo canoe discipline. He hopes for the national team to have opportunities to travel to South Africa to compete against professionals in that country. He added that agreements were reached last year with Britain, France, Germany and Italy to have their teams visit Namibia next year for international friendly matches. According to Haimbodi, the team is facing a daunting task of attracting athletes from previously disadvantaged communities, saying there is simply no interest as the sport is viewed as a ‘white men’ sport. However, he commended schools from Rehoboth who took the initiative of having their learners exposed to the sport as training sessions normally take place at the Oanab Dam. Haimbodi said that he is disappointed with the Namibian Police (Nampol) and the Namibia Defence Force (NDF) who don’t engage their personnel in this sport like is the case in other countries world-wide. “The NDF and Nampol can surely afford to buy boats which other countries are doing. We have tried behind the scenes to have athletes from previously disadvantaged communities but to no avail. We do plan on having local competitions in the Kavango East/ West and Zambezi regions where people are traditionally canoeing from place to place,” he said.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015