NN tightens belt over Covid-19

By Michael Uugwanga

NETBALL Namibia will have to tighten its belt during the Covid-19-induced economic crisis, because the International Netball Federation (INF) has no money for a relief program to support its members financially, unlike FIFA and World Rugby.

This was said by INF Africa representative Joan Smit in an interview with Confidente Sport this week when asked whether the INF would follow in the footsteps of FIFA and World Rugby to provide funding to its members during the slump brought on by the halting of all major sports events.

FIFA made a commitment to dish out U$150 million (N$2.7 billion) to help the football community withstand the impact by the pandemic, with the Namibia Football Association (NFA) being one of the beneficiaries.

The Namibian Rugby Union (NRU) narrowly missed out on a golden opportunity from World Rugby’s relief program though, when it failed to meet key requirements such as, giving contracts to players to be able to secure the funding.

The  International Tennis Federation (ITF) alongside top players have also agreed to raise over U$6 million (N$110 million) towards a relief program to support about 800 singles and doubles players active on the men’s and women’s tours circuit, who are in need of financial support due to the ban on sports.

“The only two international federations I am aware of that have made funding available to national federations are FIFA and World Rugby. And you can understand that they are running on strong revenues because of television rights with big football and rugby events.

“The INF, like most of the international federations, is by far not as financially strong as FIFA or World Rugby. Netball is not a professional sport, as I am sure you are aware. The INF does not have a relief fund at all. However, the INF is looking into other ways to assist. A board meeting will be held within the next month,” Smit said.

Netball Namibia’s main source of corporate support is Debmarine Namibia, that has been its main sponsor from 2017 to 2019, during which N$1.8 million was pumped into the annual Senior National Netball Championships, the Netball Pent Series (5 Nations Tournament) played by Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as the Regional League grants at N$10,000 per region, the training of umpires, and the development of the first Netball Namibia website.

Meanwhile, the 2021 Netball Youth World Cup qualifiers that were due to start this month in Uganda have also been called off. Similarly, the Africa Cup that was supposed to take place in Namibia in July has been put on hold.

The INF board is expected to meet in the next few weeks to discuss the future of the World Youth World Cup. “The qualifiers for the 2021 Netball World Youth Cup were scheduled to take place in Uganda during this first week of May, and the Africa Cup was scheduled to take place in July in Namibia. As you are aware, no contact sport has been cleared globally due to the pandemic,” she pointed out.

“We will need to adhere to the regulations of governments. Namibia is no exception and the guidelines are very clear. The INF board will also take a decision within the next few weeks with regards to the 2021 Netball Youth World Cup,” said Smit, who played for Namibia in the early 90s and was part of Namibia’s famous netball dream team at the 1991 Netball World Cup in Australia.