Poor management undermined NN– Petersen

By Michael Uugwanga

FORMER International Netball Federation (INF) Africa representative Elize Petersen has said Netball Namibia (NN) by now could have been at the same level as other top netball nations had the association placed the right people in the right positions.

Petersen held the position as INF Africa rep between 1992 and 2002. A retired employee at Air Namibia, she currently serves as a board member of Namibia Wildlife Resorts. She made the remarks while reflecting on Namibia’s early years of Independence, during which local netball was a force to be reckoned with.

Namibia featured at the 1991 World Netball Championship (World Cup) in Australia, which was also the last time the country appeared at the global showpiece. That year Namibia finished in 13th position with Australia winning the cup, followed by New Zealand and Jamaica taking third placed.

Namibia’s team, still referred to as “the dream team”, had the likes of Esmie Van Rooi, Joan Smit and Sharon Holland to mention a few and was a formidable side to watch under the guidance of coach Nico Smit (currently Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) Member of Parliament.

The president of Netball Namibia at the time when it was still known as the All Namibian Netball Association (ANNA) was Annelize Opperman.

But 2019 could go down as one of Netball Namibia’s best years when the Desert Jewelz won the M1 Nations Cup in Singapore under the guidance of Julene Meyer with Lydia Mutenda as current president.

“Like in the corporate environment, I really think we lost key competence in management without realising it. A few years after Independence with our majority votes we started to put people into positions who might have been acceptable or known or whatsoever the reasons were, even if they were not committed.

“During our reign we never got paid or sitting allowances or even to manage netball offices as administration was done in small rooms at our own houses. It was management’s business to solicit sponsors to stage events at club, regional, national and international levels. Players arranged events to raise funds for pocket money.

“Money from the Namibia Sports Council was restricted to administration fees. Today, government is allocating funds through the Namibia Sports Commission for registration, participating, and even for hosting international events, while during our time we all needed money but the objective shifted from the love of the game,” she said.

Petersen was also a keen netballer during her younger years and turned out for Khomasdal-based outfits, Young Ones.

“Netball Namibia must find a way to develop leagues across all regions. Regional and national games can address this issue. Unlike hockey, rugby and cricket, netball has a clear advantage because the game is played by all schools from a very tender age. We must join hands with the Namibia Schools Sport Union (NSSU) and strengthen the progression of our children up to university level and beyond.”

Namibia holds the INF Africa representative position in Joan Smit, who is also the Secretary-General at the National Namibia Olympics Committee (NNOC).

“We are blessed with the most sought after resources in Africa [and] Netball Namibia still holds the position of Africa representative on INF in the person of Smit. Through the intervention of Smit, Africa now (2019-2023) has four countries within the top eight countries of the world. What an achievement.

“However, Namibia does not feature anywhere. We did not even participate at the World Cup last year. So what are we saying? We must use and even abuse these resources? We can reclaim our position through commitment, diligence, hard work and humility,” Petersen remarked.