Sports minister Agnes Tjongarero opened the 2021 Namibia Annual Sports Expo (NASE) on Monday with a call to professionalise sport in Namibia to allow athletes to make a living through sport.
In her message broadcast live on the Namibia Sports Commission Facebook page, Tjongarero urged the private sector to come on board in this regard.
“After the excellent performance by Team Namibia at the just-ended Tokyo Olympic Games, the private sector showed their willingness to partner,” she said.
“In this regard, I call on the same people that were eager to get on the bandwagon, to now avail similar funding for sports development in the country, so that we can unearth the country’s sporting gems earlier and ensure greater sporting prospects for Namibian athletes.”
Tjongarero added that sport is growing in Namibia and this offers unique opportunities into untapped potential in local sport.
“Together we can do more to ensure our long-held dream of professional sport becomes a reality.”
She noted that the Sports Expo, although being held digitally this year to ensure adherence to Covid-19 regulations, still advocates for sport to be considered as one of the major drivers of economic development.
“The goodwill exhibited by the private sector in the amount of pledges to victorious athletes, captures the potential of sport as a driver of economic development and vehicle to unification.”
Tjongarero said sport has the potential to unite the nation and heighten the propensity to create a trickle-down effect and stimulate national development.
She, however, expressed concern with the state of Namibia’s sports facilities that do not meet expected standards.
Referencing the fact that the national football teams have to play international games in South Africa, she said the country is losing close to N$2 million per game day – money that is now invested in South Africa for the renting of stadiums, to pay accommodation facilities and flight tickets, etc.
Most importantly, she said, Namibian people are losing opportunities to conduct business during sports events.
Tjongarero thus urged the nation to pull together to upgrade facilities, adding that the positive impact sports tourism has on towns hosting sports events is well known.
Speaking yesterday on the same Facebook page, Director of the 2021 NASE, Tjeripo Musutua said they are excited about this year’s event, because the country had a lot of achievements this year.
“We decided that with all these achievements we cannot be silent; the nation needs to hear about it,” he noted, adding that to reach a wider audience, they decided to go digital.
The primary objective of the expo is to market the country’s resource-starved sports industry to the public, with the hope of increasing interest and investment in sport.