Vincent Shiliifundja Richard
Being in the sport industry for quite a while now, I have noticed with dismay how corporate Namibia is so reluctant to invest in talent identification in the Land of the Brave.
Credit must be given where it’s due; companies such as MTC, Namibia Breweries, Coca-Cola, just to mention a few, are really throwing their weight behind sports by means of sponsorship and talent identification, but most corporates have had their hands folded since day one.
Now let’s talk about the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games currently underway in Tokyo, Japan.
Before the games kicked off, 11 Namibian athletes were preparing to represent our country in five sports codes. These brothers and sisters needed much assistance, be it financially (training equipment, sports gear, etc.), psychologically and mentally.
The government tried its best, despite the economic challenges faced by everyone, to make sure all our athletes got the necessary support they need. But that is not enough.
At least MTC came on board at the last minute to throw their support behind the two athletes (Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi) financially. But the rest of the corporates were quiet – so quiet that you could not even hear them breathe, neither did they want people to know they exist, while hiding behind the Covid-19 impact.
Most of them did not even show sympathy and/or give encouraging or supporting messages when the two girls were withdrawn from the 400m, but they are now flooding social media with sugar-coated congratulatory messages.
Now everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, seeking to make their brands known through the success of Mboma and Masilingi. What a shame!
That is not all. In fact, encouraging messages should have started already from everyone before or when our athletes touched down in Tokyo. But this was not the case from our corporate companies or institutions. I’m saying this because social media was not overwhelmed like it is now.
We now hear Mboma here, Masilingi there. Why did we not do the same for athletes competing in other sports codes, who performed first despite not going that far, i.e. rowing, cycling and boxing?
Please corporate Namibia, stop this tendency of waiting for someone to shine or achieve something and then hijack the opportunity, because you see a good business opportunity to show off your business.
Please do not get me wrong. I have nothing against you issuing a congratulatory message to a fellow countryman or woman. My problem is why wait for someone to bloom for us to do that?
In fact, why are you part of the celebration if you were never there when someone needed that support to succeed? Is this the way we want things to be going forward?
Why can’t Namibian corporate institutions invest more in talent identification and nurture that instead of jumping onto the polished product?
I feel corporate Namibia’s support should have been there since the 90s when the likes of Frank Fredericks, Harry Simon, Luketz Swartbooi competed in the Olympic Games and other international competitions.
Corporate institutions through their social responsibility programmes need to start giving more support to our athletes if they are to realise their dreams.
More investment is needed to identify new talents as well as boost those who are already identified, if we want to have the rights and dignity to smile, laugh and celebrate with them through their achievements and success because you also took part in a different way.
We have so much talent in this country, which need to be discovered or identified but with limited resources, this cannot happen because you only have three or four corporates supporting sport.
If we want strong representation like the USA, Great Britain, and Jamaica at competitions, we need to invest more in sport because this will increase our chances of scooping more medals at these international competitions.
I hope, going forward, the ongoing Olympics will be a stepping stone. I want to see more corporates coming on board to support our athletes, so that all of us can have a voice to sing loud for our achievements with the true feelings that we all contributed to their efforts to get there.
Finally, I would like to thank our government for its part, the regional councils, private entities and individuals who immensely contributed to all our athletes who represented our beautiful land and, in that way, kept OUR BEAUTIFUL FLAG flying higher and higher with pride.
Just imagine, at the age of 18 years, our golden girls pushed, caused tensions and forced the veterans from Jamaica, USA and other countries to their limits, because Mboma and Masilingi meant business. Not even their withdrawal from the 400m deterred them or made them lose focus – they believed in their nation, in their amazing mentor, coach and a father Mr. Henk Botha, who stood firm with them from the day and started nurturing their talents. Long live the greatest father to our wonderful athletes. We shall forever be grateful for what you have done for this Land of the Brave!
*Vincent is a sports analyst and reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org