Olympic athletes feel financial squeeze

The sports ministry’s financial woes continue to drown Namibian athletes who have little or no support as they prepare for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games.

15 June 2021 | Sports

LIMBA MUPETAMI

WINDHOEK

The Namibian Olympic team, consisting of marathon runners Helalia Johannes and Rainhold Tomas, cyclists Vera Looser, Dan Craven, Michelle Vorster and Alex Miller, boxer Jonas Junias, rower Maike Diekmann and track-and-field athletes Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, have no collective funding to aid their preparations.

Most of the athletes are struggling to make an income; most haven’t competed in races to generate funds due to sports halts all over the world; sponsorship is non-existent and that which is there doesn’t cover much. As it stands Namibian athletes hardly get appearance fees to constitute a living. For some, a full-time job is required to support their pursuits.

Help yourself

Looser, Craven, Vorster and Diekmann are based in Europe, where they train. Some depend on private funding, which sometimes comes from family businesses or from their meagre salaries.

Johannes, Jonas, Diekmann are assisted by the Olympic Solidarity Grant.

The secretary-general of the NNOC, Joan Smit, said they haven’t received any funding from the ministry of sports and thus no funding to support athletes.

She said Namibia has very capable athletes, but there is no support for them. So far, Telecom has pledged a pair of N$3 000 shoes for each of the athletes, after joining the modest token of sponsorship from the vice-president of Namibia, Nangolo Mbumba.

Money is scarce

The sports ministry’s executive director, Audrin Mathe, said they are assisting the athletes with accommodation and transport to and from venues. He did not clarify exactly how much the figure was, only saying that they were still sourcing the funds.

He also said that the athletes would receive attire for the games.

He also spoke about the Paralympic athletes, who will get funding from NamPower. The Paralympic Games will be held right after the Olympics – from 24 August to 5 September.

Mathe added that money is scarce all over the government sector. He urged the private sector to come on board and to help the Olympic team.

Join hands

“I think the private sector is sometimes reluctant to come on board, thinking that the money will be used by the government. So, at the moment we are busy setting up a sports fund for the future, so that the money can go directly there and be used to aid athletes,” he added.

Use your influence

Neither Athletics Namibia, nor the Namibia Sports Commission has been lobbying for sponsorship. A few weeks ago, AN president Erwin Naimwaka was asked by Namibian Sun about the involvement of his office in the progress and goals of Mboma and Masilingi. He said they offered administrative assistance. What this entailed was not elaborated on. Mboma won a gold medal and Masilingi took bronze in that particular race.

Individual sponsors

Johannes has an Olympic grant); Tomas has no funding; Looser is believed to be privately funded; while Craven rides in Nedbank’s colours whenever he competes in Namibia.

Vorster always thanks the Davin Sports Trust on social media. She may have other sponsors for more specific bike requirements.

Junias has an Olympic grant and was at some point seen in the colours of Ohorongo cement.

Miller last year received a boost from Pupkewitz Megatech, Nedbank Namibia and Mannie's Bike Mecca to prepare for the Games. Diekmann has an Olympic grant.

Mboma and Masilingi are supported by their coach. Last week he thanked AN, the NNOC and the Davin Sports Trust for their support in making their European tour possible.

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