With just weeks left before the Africa Indoor Hockey Cup roars into life, both Namibia’s senior men and women’s indoor hockey teams are putting final touches to their preparations as the two teams continue with their quest to qualify for the 2022 Indoor Hockey World Cup.
The Africa Indoor Hockey Cup, which serves as qualifiers to the 2022 Indoor Hockey World Cup, was initially scheduled to take place last year September but had to be rescheduled to this year April due to the raging Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Indoor Hockey World Cup itself was also initially pencilled to take place last month but was postponed to next year February due to the pandemic; it will take place in Liège, Belgium.
The Africa Indoor Hockey Cup will now take place next month in Durban, South Africa, where both Namibia’s senior men and women teams will compete with the aim of bettering their world rankings and hopefully qualify for the World Cup. Next month’s Africa Indoor Hockey Cup will see Namibia facing the likes of Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Speaking during his courtesy visit to sponsors MTC yesterday, Namibia Hockey Union (NHU) president Marc Nel thanked MTC for financially backing both national teams in their bid to book spots at next year’s World Cup, adding that it is vital for both teams to do well at next month’s Africa Indoor Hockey Cup.
“In order for us to secure our spots there [Indoor Hockey World Cup], we must put on our best show during the coming qualifiers in South Africa next month. Our drive is to fly the Namibian flag high, whilst concurrently giving mileage to MTC as our sponsor – so like any other games, we are taking this very seriously. Both teams are ranked in the top 20, with the women’s team ranked 10th, while the men’s team is ranked 17th in the world, which I believe are all good positions for our teams. Not only that, but we also aim to improve our rankings so that we can also qualify for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England,” said Nel.
Also speaking at yesterday’s event, MTC’s corporate affairs manager John Ekongo emphasised the importance of inclusivity within the local sporting fraternity, saying that Namibian sport can only grow if the country embraces unity and do away with discrimination.
“Sport is a unifier, and we would like to see inclusivity, unison and true representation of diversity being upheld to that effect. Any talented Namibian who possesses the quality to contribute to a game and help put the Namibian flag high, regardless of his or her social background, race or tribe must be accorded an equal opportunity to do so. Our stance has always been growth and development – and we shall work hand-in-hand with the federations to achieve the goals we have agreed collectively as part of our agreement,” Ekongo said.
Last year, MTC announced a sponsorship deal worth N$3 million for over three years, which went towards the national men and women’s teams and will assist with their international commitments.