Are we truly a sporting nation?

04 July 2019 | Columns

Many Namibians, and rightly so, have vented their anger and frustration towards the Brave Warriors players and technical staff, following yet another disappointing Africa Cup of Nations showing. Given the tough group that Namibia were in, which included the likes of Ivory Coast, Morocco and South Africa, very few people gave the Brave Warriors a chance to qualify for the round of 16. But the Ricardo Mannetti-led side were fairly charged up and ready to face the might of group favourites Morocco and Ivory Coast. The display against Morocco, which ended in misery, thanks to an own-goal by forward Itamanua Keimuine in the dying minutes, gave us hope and showed the rest of Africa that we were definitely not in the group just to make up the numbers. Although the results didn’t go our way against neighbours South Africa and Ivory Coast in our last matches, the all-round performance of the Brave Warriors deserves a special mention, and there is simply no need to write off the boys, despite them enduring a winless campaign. Mannetti, who will be out-of-contract at the end of this month, has assembled a formidable team over the years, and he too should be credited for putting Namibia back on the African soccer map. It is true that we have a long way to go, and as we reflect on this Afcon campaign, we should ask ourselves the hard questions, including whether we are indeed a sporting nation. Sport in Namibia is still trapped in victimhood. It is considered a bottomless pit by many corporates, who prefer to ship their profits back to South Africa, and so on. The lack of funding, a sporting culture and the political will to invest in the right infrastructure is seriously holding us back as a nation. With the right attitude, organisation and commitment, which includes sweetening incentives for our current and future sporting stars, there might be a light at the end of the tunnel.