While with baited breath I confidently wait for the country’s para-athletes to make the country proud and bring medals home from the ongoing 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I still think it’s only fair that I again take use this space to reflect on the performance of Namibia’s able-bodied athletes and also on the overall state of school sports in the country.
I know some readers would jump and say they (Namibia’s Olympians) have already been bashed enough by the local media and various sport administrators and deserve some slack, but my take this time around is rather on the lamentable state of sport structures in Namibia – starting from school sport structures to our elite athletes.
Based on my observations and recollection – and I’m sure many of you would agree with me – I have concluded that what is actually causing the rapid decline of sport in Namibia is still yet to be identified, but what I know for a fact is that the dormancy or seeming non-existence of school sport structures in Namibia is one chief contributor to that decline.
Among many of my observations – and worryingly so – is the evident disconnect between the Namibia Schools Sport Union (NSSU) and the country’s various mainstream feeder systems, which should serve a system that identifies, nurture and develops talents.
At this point, I think it’s safe to say the NSSU has dismally failed the country and its leadership urgently needs to go back to the drawing board and seriously reconsider how to revive the good old days of competitive school sports.
Another area that needs serious improvement is the disconnect between the education ministry and the Namibia School Sports Union (NSSU), as the importance of physical education in schools has in recent years also declined.
NSSU should come to the realisation that athletes don’t drop from the skies. Instead, it takes years of training and dedication to develop an athlete. For this reason, they need to work in close contact with the education ministry and various sport federations.
Also, the NSSU should develop training programmes for school-going athletes and follow up on their educational and sports goals. If funding such programmes is a problem, then government should institute incentives for companies that do sponsor and also to would-be sponsors. These incentives could even be in the form of tax breaks.