Defying the odds

Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) chief administrator Simataa Mwiya says the camaraderie between sport codes is booming, as the country reaches new heights on the international stage.

31 October 2019 | Sports

Namibia's sporting fraternity is riding on a wave of success, even amid the horrific economic times the country is experiencing.

Several national teams and individuals are either standing their ground against the world's best, winning or qualifying to big sporting events.

Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) chief administrator Simataa Mwiya heaped praise on sport code administrators and the ministry of sport for creating a feeling of togetherness.

“I think what was required from many sport codes was a working relationship and that is happening right now.

“The coach forum has also helped, because people share development ideas and winning formulas.

“One will not be able to leave out sports minister Erastus Uutoni, whose presence at many sport functions and events has also encouraged athletes to do well,” Mwiya said. He believes there is a feeling of togetherness and many athletes and teams have been receiving moral support from the ministry and the NSC.

“The awarding of national colours has just given many of the athletes a feeling of patriotism too.

“We will be having a meeting with the cricket national team to already plan the way forward for the 2020 ICC T20 Cricket World Cup. All these things mean so much to those in sport,” Mwiya said.

All this is happening at a time when the sporting fraternity is licking its wounds amid an economic recession and massive cuts in government spending on sport.

Earlier this year the directorate of sport was allocated about N$44.5 million of the national budget and N$5.9 of that amount went to the NSC, which was a one million reduction from the N$7 million the commission received in the previous fiscal year.

Despite this, the Brave Warriors qualified for both the 2018 Chan finals, as well as Afcon 2019, while the national rugby team has just returned from the 2019 Japan Rugby World Cup where they delivered some brave performances against tier-one nations. The Brave Warriors also sent Madagascar packing recently to qualify for the 2020 Chan finals.

Netball has been one of the most underfunded sport codes, but the national team just returned from the Six Nations Cup in Singapore, where they emerged as champions.

Another astonishing achievement was the recent victory of Namibia's national cricket national team, ensured their place at the T2O World Cup. One of the country's brightest stars over the past two years, Helalia Johannes, has been shattering records and bringing back medals from around the world.

She took bronze in the women's marathon at the 2019 IAAF world champs in Doha. Johannes has also booked her place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and is one of the favourites to earn a medal for her country.

Outspoken labour and sports legal consultant Olsen Kahiriri believes that national teams have been doing well because of individuals who lead them with passion.

“It is simple; they are led by people with a love and understanding of those specific sport codes.

“Some sports codes have been successful because they are run by people who are not looking for wealth out of sport,” Kahiriri said.

Erongo sport officer Berthold Karumendu is adamant that some of the success has been created because of small local tournaments and events.

“Many athletes have used these local events we organise to prepare them for bigger and global events.

“All these local tournaments and events have kept the athletes active and that is why they are very important,” Karumendu said.

Local boxing has for years produced world champions, while many others have done well, including cycling, rowing and para-athletics. One of Namibia's shortcomings remains the number of athletes that qualify for the Olympics.

So far only a handful of individuals have qualified with the Tokyo spectacle looming large.

The Olympic team's chef de mission Dawie Augustyn admitted they are racing against time to ensure that many athletes qualify.

“Swimming and track and field athletes can still qualify up to 29 June 2020.

“The standards are extremely tough, but we expect a few individuals to make it.

“There are also at least some boxers we believe can qualify for the Olympics early next year,” Augustyn added.

Jesse Jackson Kauraisa

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