Let’s applaud government investment in sport

SOMETIMES it’s good to take a bow and say ‘thank you’ unconditionally, and in this instance to our very own government who through the Ministry of Sports, Youth and National Service availed over N$47 million to various sport codes scheduled to compete internationally, including qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games set for Tokyo, Japan.

There is hope for our athletes, with government coming to the aid of our various sport codes with strong financial commitment, more importantly the codes that are now categorised as national sport codes.

One particular sport code loved by so many is none other than football, which handsomely benefitted from the goodwill gesture of government recently, starting from when the Brave  Warriors scooped the 2015 Council of Southern African Football Association (Cosafa) Cup where the intervention of President Hage Geingob sourced N$1 million to remunerate the winning players.

The whopping N$19,165,875 from the Ministry of Sport towards the Brave Warriors’ participation at the 2019 Confederation of African Football (CAF) Afcon must be immensely appreciated by the current Namibia Football Association (NFA) Normalisation Committee (NC) without any doubt.

We have been told that the national football body, not just ours but football associations competing in this year’s continental showpiece will be awarded a participation fee from CAF, yet we have no clue if at all the NFA has indeed received any funding from CAF.

The NFA NC is silent about such funding. I mean, what happened to transparency and accountability? Are we saying just for argument’s sake that had government not injected the millions at the very last minute towards the Brave Warriors we would have not seen the recall of the national senior team?

What a disgrace that would have been. This is where the Namibian business sector must come in and meet government halfway. Sure we have a number of businesses playing a pivotal role in the development of sport, yet those contributions are a drop in the ocean.

I suggest that government officials from the Directorate of Sport, the Namibia Sports Commission and the Namibia National Olympic Committee form a steering committee to engage the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry and find ways how best the commerce and industry sector can establish a ‘national sport fund’ solely for the purpose of assisting national teams with thorough preparation and participation fees.

It should be noted that here we are, having categorised sport codes of which some are national sport codes and others priority sport codes, but how do we sustain these sport codes to deliver better performances regionally and internationally?

Government must not shoulder the blame for underfunding alone, yet it is government through the NSC that gives annual grants to these sport codes, some of which do not account or have never accounted for the money granted to them.

It is the same government through the NSC that has allocated millions of dollars to the Namibia Rugby Union 2019 Rugby World Cup, the 2019 All African Games, and hockey Olympic qualifiers in Spain, but where was the private sector?

We have categorised netball as a national sport yet since the beginning of the year all I have read of it is the appointment of a new national coach. Why can’t the netball leadership embark on a retreat workshop and map out a strategic plan on how best to engage the private sector?

I mean, the sport that was once enjoying high status but is now dormant and – by the way – Windhoek is not Namibia, thus there is no good reason why sports such as netball are not played in all regions or have regional or national leagues.

Amidst the economic hardship government has shown unwaveringly commitment and demonstrated its willingness to assist through the Sports Ministry, and that must be commended and applauded.