Jamaican project haunts us
10 February 2020 | Sports
I pen this drowning in sorrow and worried about our chances of sending more track and field athletes to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
As things stand, less than five Namibians have qualified for the Olympics, with Helalia Johannes set to compete in the marathon category.
At this moment, many have tipped Johannes as a favourite to bring a medal back home.
It is sad that we weigh the hopes of this entire nation on one individual to bring back a medal.
It is for this reason I bring up the Jamaican project which was aimed at preparing athletes for such competitions back in 2013.
The aim of the project was to improve Namibia's chances of winning medals at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and future Olympics.
However, none of the 10 athletes sent to Jamaica in September 2013 made the grade for the Rio Games.
The athletes were Lilanne Klaasman, Tjipekapora Herunga, Keshia Kalomo, Mberihonga Kandovazu, Globine Mayova, Gilbert Hainuca, Francis Uatema, Hitjivirue Kaanjuka, Jesse Uri-Khob and Adiel van Wyk.
The fact that the project cost over N$10 million and none of the athletes' made it to the Olympics is an embarrassment.
This project could have worked much better if the athletes they sent were younger.
It was however not the case because most of the athletes who were part of this project were already in their mid- and late 20s.
I can confidently say that none of these athletes are even part of the team going to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
I believe younger athletes could have given the country more hope going into the Tokyo Olympics.
I therefore deem the Jamaican project a huge failure, given that it has not yielded any desired results.
It is a failure which occurred four years ago, but which will continue to haunt us in 2020.
My advice to government, if another project of this nature arises, is that they need to plan better and select younger athletes.
It is important that a project of this nature caters to school-going athletes and those who are at the beginning of their athletics careers.
The government will need to do more scouting in schools across over the country and not just target the children of the elites.
Such projects must also not be dominated by a racial selection but must give any Namibian who is performing well a chance to be selected.
The most important thing is that we need to plan four years ahead for big competitions like the Olympics and not just months before the competition.
I understand that sport is not a priority funded sector but there is a need for big sums of money to be pumped into youth development.
By the looks of things, our chances of coming back with more medals from Tokyo are slim and that's why we must shift our focus and start preparing for the 2024 Olympics as early as possible.
It is an embarrassment to a country rich in minerals that we are outshined by countries that are underdeveloped.
Namibia needs to prove to the world that we can do better and we can start by planning better for the future.