…as racism storm threatens game’s reputation
By John Tuerijama
STILL reeling from the shock of recent racism allegations surrounding national hockey, former national sensation Magreth Mengo says she is overwhelmed by the trust the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) placed in her ability by appointing her interim coach for the girls’ under- 16 hockey national team. Mengo’s illustrious hockey career helped the national women team qualify for the Indoor Hockey World Cup held in Berlin, Germany, early this year. Her interim appointment as junior team coach came after allegations that the young Liya Herunga was allegedly dropped from the under-16 team that was preparing for a tour to Zimbabwe later this year and replaced by a white teammate. An NSC investigation into the racism allegation established that Herunga was originally selected to be part of the team but was excluded by the newly-appointed head coach, Mareka Short, without any explanation. The NSC warned all its affiliates to observe zero tolerance towards racism, tribalism or any form of discrimination in sport, and said it will never allow matters of such nature to continue to happen unaddressed. Short was recalled, on the NSC’s recommendation, and replaced by Mengo who was asked to take over in an interim capacity. Speaking to Confidente recently following her appointment as interim coach, Mengo said that she was saddened by the allegations of racism and that sports fans all over the world were equally shocked. She described her appointment as an opportunity for her to plough back to the communities that were in the past discriminated against. “Coaching is most definitely a good start for me. I will soon have a meeting with the National Hockey Union as I want to kick start preparation for the Zimbabwean tour,” said Mengo. She said that it was important to know when to start with preparation and that she would soon rope in a qualified coach who will be assisting her. Mengo added that it was important to start from scratch in upholding fairness and transparency, as she will want to field the best possible team based on merits and not race. As a former national player, Mengo is looking at the issue of transformation, adding that black players have been appreciated and selected in various national teams in Namibia. “I think we need to push sport development in the disadvantaged communities where sport codes such as hockey have not yet been introduced,” she stressed. Mengo is of the opinion that while sport codes such as netball and soccer are common in these communities, hockey has never been despite the sport having potential to produce world class players who can take the country’s hockey to another level. The hockey ace said her priority will be looking at the fitness level of the players and at their ways of executing set-pieces. This task, she said, will require a qualified coaching partner whom she cannot yet reveal. As part of her long term ambition to be fulltime coach, Mengo has plans to have an affiliation with the Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) coaching forum. She is confident that they will be able to select the best possible team that will be good ambassadors for the country based on talent, skill, integrity, patriotism and pride. The NSC said the investigation committee on racism, tribalism and discrimination in sport will finalise its report which will be availed to the Sports Minister’s office. The NSC has urged those who participate in different sports codes and who have experienced racism, tribalism or any form of discrimination, to report these incidents to the commission.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015