Post analyses of the Sport Expo

THE sport system has recorded yet another historic milestone by hosting the inaugural Namibia Annual Sport Expo (NASE) under the timely theme ‘Professionalisation of the Namibia Sports Industry’.

The Expo came at the correct moment when the country is anxious to find alternatives to deal with our financial condition. In this respect, in cooperation with the Namibia Sport Commission (NSC), the exhibition is a brainchild of the ministry responsible for Sport under the tutelage of Minister Erastus Uutoni.

The Expo aimed to bring local and international stakeholders together to share expertise, experiences and knowledge amongst others. Moreover, the Expo was initiated strategically to innovatively and creatively assist government in addressing the objectives enshrined in the National Development Program (NDP5).

The Expo was facilitated under three initiatives, namely creating a platform of exchanging ideas and network through exhibition, conferencing; and social competitions – games.

While addressing stakeholders and well-wishers at the opening ceremony of the Expo, Vice President Dr. Nangolo Mbumba eloquently re-enforced the notion that “Government is fully committed in ensuring that sport takes its rightful place in contributing meaningfully to the socioeconomic and political landscape of the nation.”

He went on to say: “The government is determined to unlock and harness the various opportunities sports offer, while addressing policy shortcomings to enable the full development of sport and financial sustainability of sports in Namibia.”

With the above assurance by his Excellency Mbumba, the participants were eager to leave no stone unturned and showcase their products and services to the broader Namibia. The need for the NASE was reinforced further by how soft power and unity through sport was exhibited in a colorful and acrobatic soccer match between Parliamentarians and members of the Diplomatic Corp.

Both teams exuded political and diplomatic finesse on the field. The Expo created an environment where ideas and knowledge of the sport system in Namibia were shared by renounce academia, sport administrators, private and public sectors and athletes. The overriding theme of discussions was the need to develop holistic athlete centred development programmes during and after retirement.

Stanley Mutoya,  the Africa Union Sports Council Region 5 [AUSC R5] chief executive officer unpacked the New Sport Development Strategies for AUSC R5, whilst Professor Cora Burnett spoke of the need to identify alternative funding model. The renowned research scholar challenged the Namibian sport system to collect data in developmental pillars such as social, economic, education, health and international relations in order to develop “a case for sport.”

Dr. John Maphaphuli narrated his experiences on the integrative role of sport in multicultural societies such as Namibia and South Africa that are deeply affected by the scourge and legacy of apartheid.

The thought-provoking presentations elicited a lot of debate and discussion and left participants with plenty of food for thought. This reinforced the importance of such platforms as the NASE. The issues addressed at this conference are relevant, current and have bearing on the continued meaningful participation of most of our sport organisations in competitive sport.

From an exhibition point of view, more than 20 organisations showcased their products and services at the EXPO. Exhibitors came from sports apparel shops, sports development NGOs, sports business management companies, universities’, sports club teams, national sports federations, to mention a few.

The fire sparked at the NASE has potential to address the challenges faced by the sports sector. The successful start of this journey serves as a litmus test towards professionalisation of the sports industry. More such initiatives should be embraced and supported by the government and private sector.