Sport in Namibia has been under scrutiny over the years, but the topic seems to have fueled up more recently with critics referencing to the stunted growth in all sport genres. While many beg to differ, there exists a louder voice echoing efforts to do better. But what seems to be the problem?
Those in the know claim things are not as bad as the masses say. A point in case is the recent qualification of the national football team for CHAN. Indoor hockey has also pulled off a qualification for the World Cup, while the rugby team has had their fair share of growth over the years with participation at the world stage too. Namibian boxing legend Julius Indongo has celebrated a rather short-lived championship in the ring but his achievements remain as the first Namibian boxer to have reached heights after Harry Simon and others. Netball has also recently come out of its dormant stage while the country’s Paralympic society has proved their abilities to perform even better than the abled bodies.
Lack of Finance and incentive
Regardless of the achievements, still Namibians feel the country could do better. Sport guru in the area of football John Muinjo said the problems in Namibian sport all boil down to money. Muinjo feels the country can only do as much with limited resources.
“We cannot get the best in sport if we do not invest. We need full time administrators but we cannot have them because there is no money to employ them,” said Muinjo. The former Namibia Football Association president pointed out that it is time sponsors become part of sport in order to make sure that it is attractive as opposed to sitting distant. He made reference to the NPL that had a forced leave of 16 months due to primarily funds and administrative reasons.
Muinjo added that the other avenue that contributes to the stranded growth in sport is the lack of monetary appreciation for the sportsman/women. “Take for example the Brave Warriors who just qualified for CHAN, no one is coming on board to reward this boys so that they are motivated to do even better. That is another reason why our people are not motivated.
These are things that other countries are doing.”
Sharing the same sentiments with Muinjo is Namibia Sport Commission Chief Administrator Freddie Mwiya who said there is a need to pass the proposed reward policy that will stipulate what is due to athletes.
Sport is not attractive
Mwiya highlighted that due to the lack of rewards in sport, many Namibians with the potential have opted to do other paying jobs for a living. This may partly translate that the current sportsman and women the country has are not the best of Namibia’s sport crop.
“Here sport is a second hobby. Our athletes here have full time jobs and only come for training after work. They then spend an hour of training before attending to their school work if they are students. There are not so many people willing to give up their jobs to be full time sportsmen because the reward is not attractive.”
“Once people are assured that they can make a living out of sport, we will get the results,” said Mwiya.
Lack of Patriotism
The question of where the patriotism of Namibian athletes lie have been tried and tested in recent months with locals at many times failing to show support at home. Muinjo has pointed out that the lack of patriotism is another factor hindering sport in the country. “We are not coming out as Namibians to support our own.” It is almost like the people who want to see Namibian sports fail most are fellow Namibians. Sport journalist Sheefeni in his column a few months highlighted his frustration in lack of patriotism from Namibians saying; ‘If you cannot support your own and help them grow, then limit your opinions to Manchester United and Real Madrid where you are a majority shareholder.’
Besides the over emphasized obvious maladministration and lack of attitude, Muinjo added that perhaps it is also time that we decrease the number of sport codes. The country currently boasts of 53 sport codes, a situation that Muinjo feels hampers growth in most sports codes. “I feel we should cut down on the number and first focus on a few before we go big.”