Best and Worst of 2019

By Michael Uugwanga

BEST moment for 2019

It is that time of the year once again when we reflect on the highs and lows of the year in our sporting fraternity and look at athletes who have excelled and those that failed to make the grade.

Namibia, with its small population has done relatively very well compared to countries with big populations, with marathon runner Helalia Johannes being the pride of Namibia, thanks to a her bronze medal win at the 2019 World Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar.

At age 39, Johannes keeps getting stronger and will remain the country’s top medal hopeful at next year’s Olympics Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Amateur boxing sensation Jonas Junias Jonas would also have a say in that as he has shown that he is the best amateur boxer Namibia has ever had. Jonas won a gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Not even legendary former World Boxing Organisation world champion Harry ‘Terminator’ Simon achieved that feat at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Simon failed to win any medal at the Olympics, perhaps his best achievement at the amateur level was when he won gold at the All-Africa Games in Cairo, Egypt.

Back to the successes of Johannes, who will be 40 at the time of the 2020 Olympic Games, she also made history by breaking the record in the women’s 10 km race in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in September with a time of 31.50.

Her medal win in South Africa caught the eyes of government, in particular that of the ministry of International Relations and Cooperation spearheaded by Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who sent a congratulatory message.

Johannes, who was at the receiving end of lots of criticism from past major events, has now won the hearts of many Namibian sport lovers and was awarded with the MTC Sport Star of the Year prize at the 2019 Namibia Sports Awards in October.

Boxing still remains the number one sport code in terms of success and turnout at events, although football and rugby are the two top ranked sport codes. The achievements of local boxers against the best boxers on the continent are testimony to the fact that some of our boxers are simply the best on the continent.

Junior Lightweight boxer Jeremiah ‘Low-Key’ Amathila finds himself ranked number two in the world by the WBO, meaning he could be fighting for a world title sooner than later, while Featherweight boxer Nathaniel Kakololo just proved everyone wrong by showing that he is one of the best pound-to-pound boxer on the continent after capturing and defending his African Boxing Union (ABU) Featherweight title this year.

In kickboxing, 15-year-old Delano Müller is Featherweight world champion, a title he won this year in Atlanta (USA), which is also testimony that Namibia has talented athletes in every sport code, despite the financial constraints.

Peter Shalulile of Highlands Park in the Absa Premiership in South Africa is so far Confidente’s Footballer of the Season for his eight goals scored so far midway through the season for his club. He is joint top scorer in the league alongside Kaizer Chiefs striker Samir Nurkovic and Knox Mutizwa of Golden Arrows all on eight goals each.

Another success for Namibian sport was the senior cricket team that made history by qualifying for the 2020 T20 World Cup that will be staged in Australia.

Another achievement by Namibia this year was by female football referee Vistoria Shangula, the first and only female referee to date to obtain a Confederation of African Football (CAF) EliteA certificate, meaning she is the most qualified referee in the country.

There had been other notable achievements by Team Namibia and one that no one can leave out was the Brave Warriors’ qualifications for the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) without a domestic league, despite the CHAN tournament catering for local-based players only.

Another best moment was from the women’s senior netball team who made netball history when they won the 2019 M1 Nations Cup in Singapore, making them Confidente’s Sport Team of the Year.

Worst Moments of 2019

The Namibia Football Association (NFA) and the Namibia Premier League (NPL) saga presented the worst moment in the sporting industry over a simple issue that needs only few seconds to be solved. The fight is about the differences over the relegation and promotion of two clubs, Orlando Pirates and Civics, who were relegated from the NPL after the two clubs finished last season in 14 and 15 places.

The issue went to court before it was thrown out after the High Court ruled that it does not deal with football matters, however that did not stop NPL leader Patrick Kauta from submitting another urgent court application a few hours after his urgent application was thrown out of court last month.

Currently the NPL is in turmoil and this is set to continue next year but the possibility of Namibia having a league next year is unlikely after sponsor MTC recently released a press release saying it will not renew its contract sponsorship with the NPL after the current season. FNB Namibia is set to follow suit.

Another disappointment was that of the Brave Warriors that made history by failing to collect a single point at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt this year.For the first time they failed to gain any points, having gained a point at the AFCON in 1998 in a 3-3 against Angola and a 1-1 against Guinea at the AFCON in 2008.

The non-renewal of Ricardo Mannetti’s contract as Brave Warriors coach was another low to sports fans who hold him in high esteem, but interim coach Bobby Samaria has so far done a tremendous job.

The most embarrassing moment for 2019 no doubt came when then secretary-general of the NFA Barry Rukoro was kicked out of the NFA‘s building with the help of the Namibian Police Force (NAMPOL) on 13 February.