…coach cleared, systems blamed
The Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) had to swallow a bitter pill this week when results of an alleged racial discrimination case within the hockey fraternity placed accused hockey coach Maryke Short guiltless in the saga.
“I’m very glad that they could find the evidence that I’m not a racist. It is not an easy case and it is bad for someone to be in a situation like this especially in the sporting world,” said a relieved Short in an exclusive interview with The Patriot.
“So I’m very happy that the truth came out. I’m happy but it is still a long road to recovery,” she added.
About two months ago, Short became the epicenter of racial discrimination allegations after the mother of an athlete Ruth Herunga laid complaints with the NSC regarding discrimination against her child. Initially, the Sports Commission recalled national Under-16 girls hockey team coach after allegations of ill treatment and racism were levelled against her. Even First Lady Monica Geingos joined Herunga in support.
“From the beginning when the case broke that I was being accused of racism, I told everyone that I could prove my innocence. It is not easy but I knew it was not true. I know I would not treat anyone different based on their skin colour. I know for a fact that the evidence I had was sufficient to show that I do not treat people differently based on their skin colour,” said Short.
Chaired by John Kangowa, as retainer, the independent panel found that there was no racism at play towards any player, the coach or executives in all the circumstances investigated. The investigation panel, however, found that there was a technical challenge with governance.
“We wish to announce to the media that, there has not been found whether a statement of racism towards any player, the coach or executives in all circumstance investigated. However, the manner in which executives run hockey in the country suggests that, there are technical challenges with governance issue the NSC will need to support them in the future in the area,” said Freddy Mwiya when reading the finding this week.
Mwiya pointed out that though there are elements where hockey performs well as a code, but that there are some elements that require more improvement within administration of hockey to avoid similar claims in the future.
Following findings of technical and procedural challenges in the system, NSC has taken action to informing Namibia Hockey Union to cancel the under 16 national team and a new team to be composed following proper procedure and that is inclusive to represent Namibia as a country. This decision also had a bearing on Short who was informed that she will not be reinstated, but has to reapply for the job.
“We looked into how certain procedures were followed to come up with the team. These are the technicalities and procedures that were not thoroughly followed which has led to appointment of the coach who subsequently selected the team,” shared Kangowa
Under normal circumstances, the procedure require nominations by the different clubs. This squad list is then the list which the coach should work with in selecting the final team of the under 16. In this case, this set of procedures were ignored.
“The coach is not going to be reinstated following the fact that a few procedures were not followed. So it has to start all over again.”
Although the fiasco came as subsequent to limited time to come up with a team to represent the country in Zimbabwe, Vice President of the Namibia Hockey Union Marietta Stoffberg they will respect the recommendations of the NSC going forward to ensure all procedures are ticked off the box.
“The first challenge that the NHU had regarding this particular tour was the time constraint. We were pressed with time by Zimbabwe to come up with coaches and a team within two weeks. So because of the time constraint we had, this whole thing exploded into a mess. We agree with the NSC, we should not act in a heist. We should always make sure that we follow the procedures,” said Stoffberg.
While it is understood that Short and Herunga were able to smoke the peace pipe before the pronouncement of the findings, it will be hard for Short to spring back to form coming from the seat of the accused.
Short said she is looking forward to heading the team again should she be granted the opportunity after coming from the close to two months dark cloud.
“If they [NHU] send out the position again, I will definitely reapply. I feel I have done nothing wrong. There were a few difficulties in the selection of the team such as not consulting the parents of the player with regards to the switch from under 16 to 18, but that is a lesson that I have learned and we will rectify that.”
“All I want to do is to give back to the development of hockey. I will never stop coaching and I love working with young people,” said Short.