Sport Blueprint to Be Established

The National Sport Conference came to an end on Saturday, with the next phase – the compilation of a blueprint to be presented to government, now on the agenda.

With more than 300 delegates attending from the regions as well as international speakers from neighbouring countries, it was a costly affair, estimated at about N$2 million, but according to one of its organisers Laurie Pieters, it was a well worthwhile.

“The conference was well worthwhile. It lacked a bit of professionalism, but it was much better than previous sport indabas and I sincerely hope that something will come out of this. Now the Namibia Sport Commission must produce a blueprint that they can take to the Ministry and sport codes that needs to be implemented to ensure that sport development takes hold,” he said.

The three-day conference touched on a wide range of topics that included a review of the sport legal framework in Namibia, physical education in schools, the business of sport, the categorisation of sport codes in Namibia, the inclusion of people with disabilities in sport, and transformation in sport, amongst others.

According to Pieters, the lack of physical education (PE) in public schools is a major problem that needs to be addressed.

“The physical education of Namibian children is a concern. We rely a lot on the youth coming through for the development of sport, but today you don’t find physical education in government schools, because the teachers don’t coach any more, you will only find that in private schools,” he said.

A panelist on the importance of PE in schools, the president of the Namibia Gymnastics Federation, Valereis Geldenhuys, said that more than 70 percent of learners in schools that she had visited were not fit. This in turn affected their concentration levels in class and consequently their academic performance.

Sport administrator Callie Schafer, who delivered a presentation on the categorisation of sport codes said the top sport codes received too little funding and that a re-categorisation of codes should be implemented.

He proposed that about eight top sport codes be identified that should receive N$2,5 million each in funding if Namibia wanted to become a winning nation. An ’emerging group’ of 12 codes should receive N$250 000 each in funding, while a ‘development group’ of a further ten codes should receive N$120 000 per year in funding.

This is a far cry from the current situation where Namibia has 52 sport codes affiliated to the Namibia Sport Commission, where a Group A of five top codes receive about N$80 000 per year a Group B receives N$45 000 per year and a Group C receives N$20 000 per year.

“If we want to become a winning nation we will have to improve funding to our top codes while cutting funding to others. These categories can be drawn up in terms of international success, corporate governance, management structures and development of codes, and they should be re-evaluated every three years to see if certain codes can be promoted or demoted,” he said.

Funding from the private sector was another topic of discussion, but according to Pieters the fact that many topics exceeded their time limits, left a lot to be desired.

“The topic on sport funding started more than an hour late and in the end two speakers from the private sector had to leave due to other commitments and we never got into funding. That was a disappointment for me that we never got them involved,” he said.

With regard to disabled sport, Charles Nyambe, the president of Disability Sport Namibia said it was important to change attitudes towards people with disabilities.

“There is very little awareness about people with disabilities and there is a misleading perception that disabled people are just looking for help or handouts. They have to overcome an enormous amount of obstacles and negative attitudes, so a lot still needs to be done in terms of development of disabled sport in Namibia” he said.

Michael Bulagango, the president of the Zimbabwe National Paralympic Committee said that disabled sportsmen and women should be able to find access to all sport codes, while they should also be included at school level.

Transformation in Sport

The issue of transformation in sport received a lot of attention and elicited a wide range of opinions.

The topic moderator Dr Donovan Zealand said that Namibian sport administrators had failed on the issue of transformation because ‘we are struggling with the same issues as 24 years ago.’

“The sporting landscape is a reflection of the larger society which is also struggling with transformation. We are not the only one, our neighbouring countries are also struggling with the same issues,” he added.

The president of the Namibia Rugby Union, Bradley Basson said that transformation was about levelling the playing field and providing equal access.

“Transformation is about making sure that there is equitable access to sport activities. It’s not about imposing a quota system but about levelling the playing field. It’s also about accountability. Sport federations must be accountable for resources, good governance structures and good grassroots development programmes,” he said.

Basson however warned against implementing a quota system in sport.

“Should Namibia follow the South African route of a quota system and fail like they did, or are there lessons we can learn to modify their approach,” he said.

“A one-dimensional approach to transformation must be avoided. If it’s about changing from white to black then we are heading for disaster. Transformation must deal with direct empowerment, skills development and social development, and it should not be at the cost of achievement and should be aimed at enhancing performances,” he said.

Other speakers like sports journalist Carlos Kambaekwa and the acting Director of Sport Bernard Kaanjuka however called for quota systems, while Tim Ekandjo of MTC said that sport codes that do not transform should not receive funding.

Abner Xoagub, the vice president of the National Olympic Committee said that transformation was a process of empowerment but that more needs to be done.

“Sport is not high on the government’s agenda, which means that we as sport leaders have failed. We have about 50 percent unemployment and sport can change that,” he said.

“But people are not using the facilities at schools, where the tennis courts are now green with grass. As sport leaders we need to get schools back into sport,” he said.

Source : The Namibian