I have been questioning myself since the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Stanley Simataa, informed the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, Erastus Uutoni, to source funds elsewhere to fruitfully give rewards to our deserving athletes. With the current economic meltdown and the government sourcing funds elsewhere to meet the current budgetary obligations, one is left questioning where Uutoni would find the money to reward the athletes. I foresee a daunting task of canvassing funds unless of course the country gets itself out of this current economic conundrum, something that is unlikely to happen soon. Government must be proactive and put resources aside for this purpose. The private sector too should come on board if we want to motivate our athletes to compete competitively with the rest of the world. While some role players in the private sector have come on board to give support to our athletes, the majority have been reluctant to do so. Power utility NamPower must be commended for supporting athletes with disabilities for the past years. Though NamPower is government entity, its support to the physically challenged in sports has seen the disability federation doing exceptionally well and producing outstanding athletes who have done Namibia proud with top international awards. It is disheartening to know that our athletes Helalia Johannes and Jonas Junias, who earlier this year won gold medals at the Commonwealth Games held in Gold Coast, Australia, are yet to be rewarded for their outstanding achievements. The rewarding policy, a document crafted by the Ministry to honour the athletes, will only be implemented during the next financial year. We are still to hear more information from the Sports Ministry as to when these two outstanding athletes will be rewarded. If there is money why is there delay in acknowledging these athletes. Namibia will next month send athletes to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Youth Games scheduled for Buenos Aires. How are we going to honour athletes who will perhaps manage to bring home medals from Argentina? It’s important for the Sports Ministry to reserve certain amounts of funds, even if the Ministry is faced with budgetary constraints. Just last weekend we witnessed Helalia Johannes winning the Cape Town Marathon with an exceptional run. We know that the Ministry has indicated that it will in future also consider competitions like the Cape Town Marathon, when rewarding local athletes who excel. If at all this happens, would we see Johannes being rewarded or are we going to see a situation where she will have to wait until funding is available? The private sector should play a pivotal role in these situations where the state has no funds to reward our athletes. Standard Bank took it upon itself to build a house for Paralympic medallist Ananias Shikongo. Such efforts should be applauded at all times. Namibia’s athletes are doing extremely well but appreciation for their outstanding performance in international competitions is rarely expressed. I wonder what will happen if the senior national rugby team surprises us by winning the International Rugby Board World Cup in Japan next year. I guess we will have to keep our fingers crossed.
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