Sports should no longer take a back seat

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By Carlos   Kambaekwa

WINDHOEK – “The time is now for African governments to start embracing the value of sports,  as the ultimate success of sports at international level rubs off on international relations between nations.”

Those were the strong words of Africa’s sports guru, Mvuso Mbebe,  during the opening day yesterday of the much-anticipated 3-day National Sports Conference, which is being held under the theme “Creating a winning sporting nation” at the Safari Hotel in Windhoek.

The outspoken Mbebe, former chief of sport at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) was the guest speaker during the opening session. He spoke on sports development.

“Sports unite people and it’s a powerful tool for progress and development, providing the ideal platform to address the thorny issue of gender and race equality, while it also increases social values. We need to find a way to define sports and ask questions as to why it’s always the last issue on the agenda of governments’ priorities for such an important organ that can serve as a tool for nation-building and creating social and economic values.”

Mbebe boasts a remarkable resume of having spearheaded the successful hosting of major sports competitions that includes the multi-sports All Africa Games (1999), AFCON 2012 and most recently the CHAN Cup hosted by South Africa earlier this year

Mbebe touched on the importance of transformation in sport and asked local sports authorities to measure themselves on how far they have gone.

“You are the best architect of your destiny.”

Advocate Bience Gawanas led a 5-member panel that dealt with sports development since Namibia’s independence in 1990 and the way forward.

Close to 400 people attended the opening session where the   sports minister Jerry Ekandjo  delivered the opening address. He said sport is about participation, inclusion and citizenship. 

It stands for basic human values such as respect, honesty, fairness, commitment and achievement, which transpires throughout life and forms the basis of a peaceful, politically stable and economically sound nation.

“Twenty-four years after independence, Namibia is still lagging behind  in identifying and attracting talent from all corners of the country, and the time has come to take stock and develop a hands-on strategy to achieve participation for all and create a winning sporting nation.”