Athletes want cash

Preparing for a competition requires more than having shoes and clothes, and athletes want the preparatory funding system changed.

11 January 2017 | Sports

Local athletes are calling for changes in the funding system used by sports federations when they qualify for major international events.

Marathon coach Tobias Hiskia told Nampa last week athletes should get some of their funding in cash.

“We know our federation (Athletics Namibia) does not have enough funds to sponsor athletes during qualifiers but those who qualify for major competitions like the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and World Athletic Championships should at least be given a portion of the money in cash to buy their own food.”

When athletes qualify for games like the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games, the Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) transfers the funds for their preparation to the service providers or suppliers they use.

Hiskia said athletes needed a clear mind ahead of major competitions. He said they should be given some of the money to pay for what they think is important for them.

Beata Naigambo, who has represented Namibia at a number of international events, told this agency that athletes spent a lot of money preparing for competitions. She said the time has come for things to change.

“We do not get funds to prepare for qualifiers. When we do qualify for events like the Olympics or Commonwealth Games, we usually get funds from the NNOC to prepare but food is not covered in that preparation money, which is not a good thing if you want a balanced diet,” she said.

Naigambo added that those in the position of providing funds should start trusting the coaches, as they are more knowledgeable about what athletes need.

“If I prepare for an event in Europe I use close to N$60 000 per trip of my own money but when I get to the national team I am not trusted with money as they don't give me a single cent to prepare, but they expect medals.

“Upcoming athletes most of the time do not have the latest equipment and when they complain, they ask why is Beata not complaining, while they know I have been on the scene for a long time and I have managed to buy those things with my own money,” said Naigambo. Lavinia Haitope and Nangula Ekandjo agreed.

“We are always forced to use our own money to pay coaches and people who help us train. All we want is for the people in the position of making decisions to give us some of the money allocated to the athletes for preparation when we qualify for major events,” they said.

Erwin Naimhwaka, president of Athletics Namibia (AN), said they were going through a difficult financial time.

“We do not have resources and funds to help these athletes who use their own resources to qualify for major competitions.”

He said they wanted athletes to have peace of mind so they could focus on winning medals for the country and not worry about unpaid bills at home.

He said AN did not have many restrictions on how preparation funds were used.

“When athletes represent the country at the Olympics or Commonwealth Games, which falls under the NNOC, they are told how to use the funds because they have their own rules on how athletes should use the money.

“But we will work on getting funds in the future to help athletes with qualifiers for major events,” he said.

NNOC president Abner Xoagub said they used to give athletes preparation money in cash but there was no accountability from the athletes' side.

“We get our money from the international bodies when preparing for Olympic Games or Commonwealth Games. We are required to write a report on how the funds are used as they have already specified what funds should be used for,” he said.

He noted that in the past, athletes spent preparation money on electricity or personal items, which they could not account for.

“In the end, it affected their training because they did not have enough money to pay for their training needs,” Xoagub said.

He added that sports federations should look for ways to help fund athletes to meet the government halfway.

“At the moment, we do not have money to fund sport and we need to pull together to get our athletes all the resources they need to represent the country well,” said Xoagub. - Nampa



HESRON KAPANGA

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