With the financial turbulence that the country faces, the sports fraternity has been hit hard and Athletics Namibia will tighten its belt to see it through the local and international competitions.
With dire times and limited resources, a busy athletics calendar, the federation says they are pulling all strings to see athletics active in local and international participation.
A team of about 24 athletes has so far been sent to Harare for the Southern Africa Region Five games for participation tomorrow and Sunday. Towards the end of June, one u/20 athlete is expected to participate in Algeria for the u/20 Championships. The Commonwealth Games are due in August in London and the country will be sending five athletes for qualifications in the marathons. The country is also expected to send three athletes to the Commonwealth Youth Games by end July.
“Funding is limited in this country. The Namibia Sport Commission (NSC) has assisted us but it is with the little they have. But as a federation, we will not sit idle and wait for assistance. We will do all that is necessary to make sure that we do not exclude any athlete from international participation due to funding,” said Athletics Namibia president Erwin Haimwaka.
Last week, Namibian karateka Katelin Martin participated in the All-Africa Karate Championships in Cameroon to accumulate points for the 2020 Olympic Games. Her bill of N$50 000 was covered by her father and coach Leonard Martin.
This week, it was alleged that the Namibian netball team were sent to compete in Uganda without a medic due to limited funds. However, NSC Chief Administrator Freddie Mwiya defended this allegation saying in rough economic times as such, it is not a priority to travel with a team medic as the competition organisers already have medics on the fields. He also said that the team had organized to fly a medic from Malawi saying it was the cheaper option.
The state of affairs comes after the butchered sports budget that has forced many sport codes to worry about their involvement in international fields. So far, netball and football have received preferential treatment from the Namibia Sport Commission in term of funding for international trips.
However, the situation within the AN camp is worrisome in preparing the athletes for international trips. Haimwaka says they cannot afford for the participating teams to camp before flying across the borders. “Preparing athletes for international participation is the duty of the individual clubs to make sure their athletes are ready as we are unable to afford camping and bringing all these athletes together,” said Haimwaka.
Haimwaka also pointed out that athletics has no direct sponsors for international participation as they only rely on the help from the sport commission.
AN has asked parents to come to the funding party and the president said some parents have given their bits to help fund for international trips.
“The athletes are our priority so we will try not to leave any athlete behind due to funding. Should we need to tighten our belts, we will cut on the coaches and only send the athletes with a team manager. The team manager will then also have to play the role of coach and other required roles,” he said.
Mwiya shared the same sentiments saying under the current financial climate, they will invest where it matters most. He said some expenses must be cut to make sure the priority areas are covered. “We have to sit and strategise how we will overcome these challenges. We need to move away from the box and think differently and Athletics Namibia has to do this,” said Mwiya.
Mwiya says it is only the football fraternity that is dormant at the moment seeing that the kick off date for the Namibia Premier League has not yet been agreed to in the ongoing boardroom fights.
This year alone, the Namibia Sport Commission has already sent out more than 14 teams for international competitions.