WINDHOEK – An independent committee that was tasked by the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) to thoroughly investigate allegations of racism levelled against national hockey coach Maryke Short, yesterday announced that Short has been cleared of any wrongdoing as there is not sufficient evidence (oral or written) to prove that she racially abused player Liya Herunga.
About two months ago, the NSC suspended the services of Short after she was accused of having racially discriminated against 14-year-old national team player Liya and also unfairly sidelined her for selection to the national U/16 team, which was to tour Zimbabwe later this year.
The incident caused a national uproar and subsequently prompted the NSC to summon the leadership of the Namibia Hockey Union (NHU) to an urgent meeting to look into the issue, and it was then decided that Short be removed from coaching the touring U/16 side and that Liya be reinstated into the team.
The NSC then instructed the NHU to thoroughly investigate Short and report back to the NSC, while an independent committee headed by John Kangowa was also tasked by the NSC to similarly investigate the matter as well as the entire dealings of the NHU.
Kangowa and chief administrator of the NSC Freddy Mwiya yesterday reported back on the findings of the investigations during a well-attended press conference at the NSC offices in the capital yesterday, where Short was cleared of any wrongdoing as far as racially abusing Liya was concerned.
But Mwiya said the investigation uncovered that Short was unprocedurally appointed as head coach of the touring U/16 team and the NHU was yesterday ordered not to reinstate Short as coach despite being cleared of racism.
Furthermore, Mwiya yesterday also ordered the NHU to dismantle the touring squad that was first announced by the hockey union and that was initially to be coached by Short, and that a new squad be assembled and a new coach be appointed within [the constituted] procedures.
“The NSC has taken action by informing NHU to cancel the U/16 national team and a new team to be composed following the proper procedures and that is inclusive in nature to represent Namibia as a country … in fact we already discussed the issue with the NHU and we all agreed that the current team is not inclusive and does not represent all the demographics of the country,” said Mwiya.
He added: “Though there are elements of hockey doing well as a code, there are also some elements that require more improvement within the administration of hockey to avoid similar claims in the future, as it is with other sport codes that are predominantly one race or one tribe oriented in management or in team set-ups ... I hope this incident reminds us all, especially sport codes that are widely regarded as only white or only one tribe, to change the way we do things and become more inclusive. Inclusivity should be our spirit as Namibians.”