ANOTHER major sporting event is just about to pass by without any of our small contingent of athletes able to lay their hands on any silverware, nevermind the colour of the medals.
The constant pain of always having to watch our athletes being at the receiving end during major international sporting events, reflects on the inability or failure of those at the helm of our sporting disciplines to explain why Namibia has been on a downward spiral for over a decade or so.
A quick retreat to the essentials reveals that modern societies are characterized by increasing and dynamic knowledge, which presumes the existence of human beings with an increasing capacity to understand the secrets of nature and to apply this knowledge to human affairs.
Many a sports administrator in the history of Namibian sports has occupied one or the other position - as the chief beneficiaries and to the detriment of athletes and the various sporting disciplines - often through means that are inimical to the promotion of transparency and merit.
Some of these self-styled sports officials and their sidekicks have been operating within a moribund organizational culture and outdated rules, as an ingredient for confusion for much too long, while the incessant desire to hold onto power ad infinitum is becoming intolerable, to say the least.
The problem of allowing sports leaders to stay too long in positions inevitably leads to stagnation and the stifling of new ideas, which is an extremely unhealthy situation, which undermines our ability as a sports loving nation to compete at the highest level.
Many sports leaders have become a threat to the welfare and development of our athletes and should be removed without further delay if the lackluster showing of our athletes at the 2012 London Olympics is anything to go by. Period.
Those at the helm of many umbrella sports bodies have completely overstayed their welcome and their absolute sway is to invite an infestation called corruption. They have started to develop heads the size of the moon and believe themselves to be indispensable, untouchable and entitled to their positions by birth and divine appointment.
Following our dismal performance, what will be the excuse this time?
Yours truly anticipates the worn out refrain - “If one takes into consideration our relatively small population, our athletes did fairly well under trying circumstance because our major obstacle has been the lack of funding to prepare our athletes adequately ahead of major events. But we have learned a lot from these games and will do better next time”. The same old tired excuse repeated with a numbing regularity and the patience of a parrot.
Let’s call a spade a spade – the greatest threat to the development of sports in this country is the prevailing stagnation of ideas. And unless we put on the brakes and undertake, without fear or favour, to critically probe the state of sports administration in this country, we risk plunging headlong over the edge of the chasm.
For starters, how do we motivate our athletes in the absence of fixed incentives for medal winners or those who break records in the case of Helalia Johannes? Botswana and South Africa are rewarding their medalists handsomely, but our dozing sports officials are constantly found wanting in this critical area.
I will be remiss in my duty if I do not take on my peers in the media, as well. Namibian athletes have been preparing in the low key South African Yellow Page Series where they did pretty well, but the local media was at fault for heaping unwarranted praise on the achievements of those athletes since they were recorded in the absence of South Africa’s top athletes who were preparing in Europe at the same time.
The jingoistic media hype - no doubt - created many false and unrealistic expectations. Now, look at Marc Bassingthwaighte - the fellow has his feet firmly on the ground. That is a lesson worth learning.
On an even more positive note, the performance of rookie long distance runner, Helalia Johannes, has not gone unnoticed.
Crossing the finish line in 18th position out of a strong field of 118 competitors at an event of such magnitude is no joke and all credit must go to this emerging athlete.
The humble girl from the village of Oshali in the Ohangwena Region defied all the odds stacked against her by putting up a gallant performance to stay in touching distance with the front pack for the better part of the Marathon race - tumbling the Namibian record in the process. You have done us very proud Helalia, may you grow from strength to strength!
I return to my point of contention. As long as we have selfish officials who are hell-bent on looking after their personal interests rather than those of the athletes – without doubt the raison d’être for their very livelihoods, then sports in Namibia face a bleak future. The honourable thing to do, for those who truly care, is to call it quits without further delay or to wait in order to be ushered through the exit door unceremoniously.
Anyway, how does one explain a situation where athletes are always dwarfed by the large contingent of officials accompanying them to major sporting events? I’m just asking - I rest my case.