Marathon great runner Shifotoka seeks for assistance

Eyes 2024 Olympic

WELL-KNOWN Namibian long distance runner Sakaria Shifotoka is in dire need of financial assistance in order to continue with his running career, following a big financial loss from his mini business he has been running as a vendor at China Town in Windhoek, after being a successful athlete for more than 15 years.

The veteran 39-year-old runner who is now staying on the outskirts of Windhoek in the informal settlement of Goreangab, in his heydays won numerous competitions in Namibia as well as in neighbouring Botswana.

After falling on hard times, Shifotoka who has been a full-time vendor trying to make ends meet through selling soft drinks, juice and water, as he keeps his athletics hopes alive in training daily, told Confidente that his goods were confiscated three times by the City Police, leaving him penniless.

He said the little money he has been making as a street vendor was to fund his sport career however that is no longer the case.

Shifotoka won the Windhoek City marathon in 2012, 21.1 km, won the Lucky Star Etosha Fishing marathon in 2014,42.2km, won the Husab Marathon in 2018,42.2km, won the Sanlam marathon Swakopmund 2018,42.2km and came 7th place at the Diacore Gaborone marathon in Botswana.

“The last time I ran was in 2019. My goods (stock) got confiscated three times by the City Police, first in November and December of last year and this year again in January. The reason why they confiscated is because I am apparently selling at an area that is forbidden by the Municipality. I have been a vendor for few years now as this is the only way to make a living since I am unemployed. The total amount of goods that I have lost so far is N$50 000. I have one kid that I live with in a shack. All I want is financial assistance as I want to start running again outside the country, in countries like Botswana, South Africa or even in Europe so that I make a living. The financial assistance is to cover my trip, training gear, stop watch to check the time, spikes and supplements,” said Shifotoka.

With the country sorely relying merely on veteran female runner at major international competitions such as at the Olympics, World Championships and at Commonwealth Games.

Shifotoka said that he has not given up on representing the country at the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, France.

Shifotoka has ran against other renowned top local marathon runners such as  Mynhardt Kawanivi, Reonard Nampala, Gabriel Simon Shokonawa, just a few to mention

“That is my ambition to be at the Olympic Games. Some of the competitions for one to qualify to the Olympics are those in Botswana and in Europe. There are some events scheduled for Botswana later this year and if I have the finance I would be going there in order to meet the qualifying time for the Games,” said Shifotoka.

Shifotoka runs under the Namibia Correctional Service (NCS) athletics Namibia, which is affiliated to Athletics Namibia.

Chief administrator of the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) Freddy Mwiya said as much the commission would like to assist athletes financially, in particular those who are struggling, the commission too is not in a stable financial to do so.

NSC heavily relay on Government budget through the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service.

“ It is our wish to do so (help) as part of sport development fund. But when there is no milk (money) on the cow (NSC),there is nothing you can do otherwise the cow (NSC) will die,” said Mwiya.

The Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, Agnes Tjongarero has said that the ministry can only assist such athletes if they belong to a club that is a member of Athletics Namibia.

“As a ministry we do not specific help individual athletes, but we (ministry)  can always  look into it if the club is part of Athletics Namibia, of which in this case Athletics Namibia can apply (funding) for the athlete. But we do not have a funding program at the ministry,” said Tjongarero.