The first edition of the National Youth Games finally kicked off yesterday at the Independence Stadium in Windhoek under the theme ‘Creating opportunities for all Namibians in sport without fear or favour.’
The much anticipated games, which aim to identify talent from all 14 regions, will grace Windhoek sport facilities in a weekend of sporting spectacles.
A total of 1800 athletes are expected to participate in the multidisciplinary spectacular in 10 sport codes.
At the opening ceremony of the games yesterday, Permanent Secretary of the Sport, Youth and National Services ministry Emma Kantema-Gaomas called on the Windhoek residents to back the athletes in the weekend competition.
“We should not only be glued to the TV, colonized by Arsenal and Liverpool (English clubs) while we can support and develop our talents at home. So please come out and support the athletes,’ she said.
Kantema-Gaomas added that the games serve a great purpose in advocating for inclusivity by providing an opportunity for all Namibians to excel and unleash their talent. The PS said the ministry recognizes that sport is an enabler to contribute to sustainable development and has the potential to contribute to youth employment and eradicate poverty.
Sharing the same sentiments, line minister Erastus Uutoni called on corporate Namibia to give their support in the pursuit of youth development.
A vibrant Uutoni, who had the task to officially opening the Games, shared the proposal of a sport expo, which he said will be a step to professionalizing sport.
“Sport is the answer to youth unemployment in a society where white-color jobs are limited.
We need to start seeing sport as an avenue for employment too, especially with the fact that we know that our young people have the talents,” said Uutoni.
The athletes, who had to pass trails in their respective regions, are set to face the greats from competing regions with the hopes of settling for a spot in the national team that will represent the country in Botswana at the Region 5 Games in December.
“I want us to do things in a decentralized manner and this is the right way to start doing things.
We need to give a chance for the young people in every corner, and not just the young people of Windhoek,” he said.
The ministry, together with the Namibia Sport Commission (NSC) has forked out over N$2 million towards the logistics of the event. Nampower recently announced a sponsorship of N$250 000 towards the event. Other sponsors are Tunacor, Meatco, Coca Cola, Aqua Splash and the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation.
The games will conclude on 12 May.
Mobile telecommunication giant MTC stole the show just at the stroke of the opening ceremony to award the Commonwealth golden champions.
Helalia Johannes and Jonas Junias Jonas each received N$50 000 for their achievements in Australia.
Jonas showcased a redemption performance to claim the 64 kg boxing category gold while Helalia brushed off the world’s best to claim gold in the marathon.