Integration of San into archery remains uphill battle …lack of funds, little government, private sector assistance
WINDHOEK- Despite innumerable calls and pleas from local sports activists, experts and community leaders for the various federations, unions and umbrella bodies to create opportunities for members of marginalised communities in the mainstream sport sector, the status quo unfortunately remains.
One such recent appeal, which is now being repeated for the umpteenth time, was for the youth of the San community to be integrated into the various development programmes of the Namibia Archery Association (NAA), with the hope of creating future stars from the communities and equally inspire them not to feel left out.
Archery leaders from the San communities and various community sport activists strongly believe that the code of archery bares all, if not many, similarities to the ways and tactics the San people use when hunting with a bow and arrows and thus they should have little trouble making their mark in the sport once and if granted the opportunity.
Not only are the San people prodigious with the use of a bow and arrows when hunting and gathering, but they have refined their hunting techniques over the centuries, they are mainly based on a great knowledge of the animals to be hunted, on the poisons to use and their hunting and tracing skills are phenomenal.
With modern archery, it is the art, sport, practice, or skill of using a bow and arrows. The word archery comes from the Latin arcus. Historically, archery has been used for hunting and combat. In modern times, it is mainly a competitive sport and recreational activity.
A person who participates in archery is typically called an archer or a bowman, and a person who is fond of or an expert at archery is sometimes called a toxophilite.
But despite the similarities in the application of skills and techniques with archery, the San communities, especially their youth, remain sidelined and short of any meaningful opportunities to partake in mainstream sport activities such as archery and others.
Speaking to New Era Sport recently, president of the Namibia Archery Association (NAA) Heidi Reddig touched on the many difficulties they face in their efforts of trying to integrate the San people and other marginalised groups in their various development programmes, saying financial constraints remain their biggest stumbling block.
Reddig said they have in the past tried to engage and collaborate with the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service in the areas of development and hosting basic coaching clinics for members of those communities, but not much effort was forthcoming from the side of government as far as financial and technical assistance is concerned.
She added that away from government, the NAA has also gone as far as engaging few community members from those areas to try and see the amount of interest they have in partaking in archery activities, but their efforts as an association were short-lived as they could not reach all due to lack of funds to create the necessary awareness and promotions within those communities.
Reddig also pointed out that another issue that deterred their efforts is the vast distance between the capital Windhoek and the various villages and settlements where the San and other marginalised communities are based, saying it was going to be a costly exercise to conduct a proper outreach programme in the absence of funding.
“These people are sitting in places like Tsumkwe and far deep in the small areas of Gobabis in the Omaheke Region, and we as an association are here in Windhoek where most of the activities are happening. I submitted a budget to the ministry already last year and up to now, I haven’t heard back from them. I had several meetings with them and they told me they were taking the matter to the director of sport in the ministry and I’ve never heard from them ever again,” explained Reddig.
“I also spoke to people from N/a’an ku sê and other organisations that work with San people, and they were very keen on doing it with us but nothing was really happening from the side of government to promote the programme. Also, for the private entities, it is very expensive to buy a complete set of Olympic bow and arrows, as such a set is normally in the region of N$65 000 to N$100 000. Personally, I myself cannot even afford it. It is a very expensive sport but a very good sport.”
She continued: “With the economy right now, I don’t think the government even has that kind of money. They told us they want the San people to represent the country in archery at the Olympics by 2026. Qualifying for an Olympics is difficult and in archery, you have to compete with the likes of Korea, USA, China and other European countries who play archery as a serious professional sport, unlike here in Namibia where we partake in it as an amateur sport. We need money to get everyone involved in the sport.”
2019-10-02 07:48:51 | 9 months ago