Thursday 6 May 2021
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Holistic approach needed to develop sports

Government has called on all sports stakeholders to pull their weight in order to develop sports in the country at all levels. Although decentralization of services and decision-making processes have been a bone of contention over the years, the question as to who is responsible to develop sports and setup infrastructure across the country remains unanswered. For the current financial year almost N$100 million was slashed from the budget of the Youth and Sports ministry.  However, Namibia Sports Commission’s Chief Administrator Freddy Mwiya says it is high time regional councils and local authorities play their role in growing sports in the regions.
Some councilors in the region however feel it is not their mandate to contribute to sports development. Mwiya was referring to the lack of sport facilities in regions saying the regional councilors could take on the duty to construct such platforms should they want sport to exist in their regions. With little resources at their disposal, Mwiya said both the ministry and the commission cannot perform at their best with the current financial hamstrings.
“If you talk about infrastructure, you need finance so most of the challenges are build out of finance. The number of indoor sport complexes in the regions can be counted and at times there is nothing. So we also need to interrogate the master plans for town councils such that they include sports in their development agendas. Town councils need to have programs in their towns. We don’t want the governors to only be involved in the Namibian Newspaper Cup,” said Mwiya. Mwiya was responding to the current stagnant state of sports in the country that has also caused inactivity in the regions, saying the commission and the ministry cannot do much with limited funds. According to Mwiya, most of the councilors hardly even know that sports has 56 codes in the country and the absence of this knowledge is a big challenge because certain codes cannot be sold in the regions if they don’t exist there.    In 2015, Minister Jerry Ekandjo said his ministry plans to build football stadiums and mobile offices in every constituency across the country. This promise has never materialized to date. Ekandjo this year echoed that his promise will only become a reality should the regional authorities provide free land on which sports facilities can be build.
Okakarara Constituency Councilor Vetaruhe Kandorozu is one of those who feels it is not the responsibility of councilors to ensure that there are sufficient sports facilities in the regions. Kandorozu said the wishes of the ministry are not viable as it is not in their mandate to cater for sports. “We only deal with problems within our mandate. We receive our budget from our line ministry so sport development is not our duty but that of the line ministry,” he said.
Kandorozu said that their involvement is only to facilitate and give support by creating awareness, but even this is limited because the responsibility is not decentralized to the regional levels.  “For the past seven years, Okakarara continues to operate without a sport officer. We do not have the mandate to appoint such an officer so that in itself tells you how much as a council we can do,” he lamented. In addition to the supposed duty of the regional authorities, Mwiya added that sports as a whole needs to be revamped such that it becomes attractive for investors. He said at the moment, sport has failed to entertain the people and thus stadiums are never full, which is a leading cause to the absence of corporate Namibia.
“With the number of companies we have in Namibia and our population, we should not be struggling with sport funding. If we can start with every corporation adopting a sport code for a three year contract, we will surely get the results,” he said. “If you want to yield results, you need investors. If we do not give enough funding, it will reflect in the outcome. The government has other competing priorities so we should work with what we have for now,” he said. Mwiya also said it is time sports administrators work together to develop sports in the country as well as to identify upcoming talented athletes. As a commission, he said “we have started cutting down on unnecessary projects.”

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