Many ask what the perfect ingredients are for heroism. Well, heroism is in the eye of the beholder and there is no specific recipe for it. However, sport has over the years taught us that heroes come in all shapes, sizes and can be found everywhere and anywhere.
More explicitly, sport has demonstrated time and again that heroes possess one of the following physiognomies: they have an exceptional talent; they have a strong moral compass; they incur significant risk, and they make sacrifices.
All these characteristics can be found in our everyday sports heroes – and therefore again affirms that sport has the power to inspire, unite, uplift, empower and break racial and tribal boundaries wherever they may have existed.
But are our past and present sports heroes well celebrated and recognised as they should?
Namibian sports consultant and renowned sports analyst Dr Ndeulipula Hamutumwa strongly believes that while governments the world over are appreciated for according sports heroes some sort of recognition, such as naming streets and sports venues after them, more still needs to be done to look after their wellbeing.
Hamutumwa, who heads the Namscore Sports Consultancy, says recognising sports heroes should not just be reduced to nine-day wonder honours but should rather come with lifelong benefits, such as housing, medical care, education, business opportunities, sports pension and training opportunities.
“Sport is a catalyst for development at national and individual levels. It creates socio-economic benefits in society. Sports heroes inspire the youth to aim to achieve the impossible. They create hope where there is despair. They unite the nation regardless of social, religious, economic, gender and political differences. Sports heroes inspire the youth to work for the future, work hard and succeed – both locally and internationally,” says Hamutumwa.
He added that the newfound success of sprint sensations Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi should inspire all Namibians to revisit policies and various safety nets currently accorded to local sports heroes, saying more long-term benefits for the country’s sports icons should be the order of the day going into the future.
“In Namibia, sports heroes are temporally celebrated when they win accolades and very easily forgotten. They are not supported during their careers, not recognised enough for their contribution. This is because the country does not see the importance of sport in nation building. It is my wish that the success by Mboma and Masilingi will create a new culture of consistently recognising and celebrating our own. We need to do more for our sports heroes while they are alive. They bring joy to all of us.”
Henk Botha, the legendary mentor of Mboma and Masilingi, says sports heroes are an important cog of any society and play a vital role of unity in any process of nation building and national unity.
He explains that a country can only give birth to productive citizens if the core foundation is well supported by inspiring and well looked after sports heroes who are ready to share knowledge and mould the next generation.
“But as far as getting the recognition they deserve, I think we all saw it with Mboma and Masilingi. Our girls were truly well received; the support and love from all Namibians was just overwhelming, and I could not believe how much Namibians really appreciate the efforts of our girls. Even in South Africa, they could not believe the amount of support our girls got here at home,” said Botha.
He emphasised that the country should build on that momentum when recognising and rewarding sports heroes.