N$306m budget for Ministry of Sport, a crying shame

By Michael Uugwanga

THE budget allocation towards the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service is a continuation of neglect regarding where our sport is and where it is heading to, which is a big concern to all sports lovers and followers. 
Yes, the budget allocation has jumped from N$288 million in the 2018/2019 financial year to N$306 860 million for 2020/2021, however this is just a big slap in the face to those leading the line ministry in particular the Minister herself, Agnes Tjongarero.   
I am still wondering where it continues to go wrong for the Ministry of Sport for it to continue receiving peanuts from the Government despite athletes continuing to excel internationally. 
Perhaps it is high time that the president and his cabinet start involving sport experts, sport journalists, retired athletes and the corporate world before deciding how much the directorate of sport should be getting from future national budgets. 
Even the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare gets more funding from Government than that of Sport, Youth and National Service while we all know that Sport plays a big role as it unites a nation, plus it also contributes to the health of a nation. The youth also make up the majority of the nation, therefore the Ministry deserves better funding. 
Looking at the N$306 million, the directorate of sport is expected to get only 30 percent from the budget, which means that sport once again needs to tighten its belt for another year or at least until our lawmakers start using their ‘common sense’ by realising the importance of sport in the country. 
It’s unfortunate that we are 30 years old as a nation and we do not even have serious professional sports leagues in the country, save for boxing. 
It is a big shame on Government to continue overlooking the sports sector as far as funding is concerned, not acknowledging that it is our athletes that continue to put the country on the world map. 
We could learn from our neighbours like Botswana that has a professional male football league, the Botswana Premier League, while at the same time it is on the verge of professionalising its women’s league thanks to the support football continues to receive from Government and the private sector. 
When comparing to the Botswana’s football league, our Namibia Premier League (NPL) is far better than that of Botswana, but the difference between the two leagues is professionalism that is within the Botswana’s football fraternity. Our own Brave Warriors have qualified twice for the Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) tournament in 2018 and 2020 respectively, while Botswana is still looking for their first qualification to the tournament that is for local-based players. 
Botswana has a population of 2.254 million, while we are more than 2.5 million yet we are failing to put our heads together and professionalise even one sport league be it football, rugby or netball. 
Finally, our leaders need to start realising the importance of sport and not just seeing it as a normal sector but a crucial sector in nation building.