WINDHOEK -Despite her relatively pocket size population of about 2,5 million inhabitants, the Land of the Brave has unbelievably surpassed many expectations, including her own.
Blessed with a vast landscape offering a variety of sceneries, including the ancient Namib and Kalahari deserts, apart from the peaceful harmony prevailing amongst its diverse cultural entities– Namibia has certainly come of age in many aspects of human growth. On the sport fields, the country has produced World-class athletes, and one cannot fail to mention the name of the internationally acclaimed sprinter, Frank Fredericks. Without a shadow of doubt, the latter remains the “Poster Boy” of Namibian sport having tumbled world records at international prestigious athletics gatherings.
The next thing next to Fredericks is the exploits of local professional leather traders (boxers), who so far against all odds, have staked their mettles to the surprise of both friend and foe with remarkable performances that saw the country producing no less than six world champions in different weight categories at different intervals. Retired undisputed Super Middleweight world champion, Harry Simon, yet to taste any defeat, name will be engraved in the golden pages of the national archives having won two world titles in different weight categories on foreign soil. Compatriots Paulus “The Hitman” Moses, Paulus “The Rock” Ambunda and Julius Indongo also returned the compliment to Simon in the shape of world titles in their respective weight categories.
Footballer Collin “Collymore” Benjamin rewrote the history books when he became the first and only Namibian to ply his trade in the highly competitive German Bundesliga in Europe. To put the cherry on the cake, the Donkerhoek (Katutura) born lad also rubbed shoulders with the very best, including the legendary French forward, Thierry Henry, representing his German outfit in the prestigious EUFA Club Champions League.
The national senior rugby side is ranked amongst the best rugby playing nations on the African continent, and will be making their sixth appearance at the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year. The junior rugby team is the continental champions – a competition the young oval ball chasers have won several times.
Moreover, whilst the national senior cricket eleven has also tasted the holy waters in the coveted ICC World Cup hosted by South Africa in Cape Town in 2003,
the national senior hockey side was Africa’s sole representative at the World Cup - having elbowed big sister South Africa in the qualifiers.
Individually, several athletes made their mark internationally, with top clubs abroad and here. The name of highly gifted fullback (rugby) Andre Stoop and Jacques Burger come to mind.
The national senior football team, “the Brave Warriors”, as the team is affectionately known amongst its ardent followers, certainly achieved the unthinkable. The Warriors were crowned deserving champions of the prestigious COSAFA Regional Cup in fine style away from home in Rustenburg, South Africa in 2015. This was in a star-studded tournament that included hosts South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Angola, Malawi and guest entrants Ghana.
As this was not enough, the national under-17 football team went a step better winning the COSAFA Youth Tourney on the tiny Indian Ireland, Mauritius the following year. The national senior netball side also represented Africa as one of three countries alongside South Africa and Malawi at the World Championships in Sidney, New Zealand and Birmingham, England, respectively.
The Land of the Brave has also produced World champions in the following sports disciplines, Karate, Bowls and Golf. Meanwhile, significant strides were also recorded off the field of play as government in conjunction with private institutions built stadiums of international standards such as the modernised Sam Nujoma Football Stadium while the Oshakati Independence stadium also received a major facelift in the form of a tartan athletic track. Other new recreational facilities were constructed in Swakopmund, Grootfontein, Otavi, Luderitz, Keetmanshoop, Gobabis and the Katutura Multi Sports Youth Complex.
The construction of the Dome Multi Sports Complex in the country’s much sought after holiday destination, Swakopmund, currently ranks amongst the finest sport facilities in the world.
The burning issue of transformation remains a bone of contention, notably in sports codes previously and still somehow perceived to be the sole domain of the elites.
The playing ground at schools sport is not leveled yet with many learning institutions in the black townships lagging far behind in the crucial area of proper basic facilities, qualified trainers and coaches as well as nutrition.
In view of the nauseating challenges stifling the overall development of sports at grassroots level, there is an urgent need to re-introduce physical education as a curriculum at all schools.
2019-03-20 11:18:00 2 months ago