Shooting from the Hip Carlos Kambaekwa When various heads of state converged in the Botswana capital, Gaberone for the first time to forge the way forward for the formation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) – no one ever thought the prime objectives of its togetherness would go beyond politics and spill over to sport. The old and cozy myth that sport and politics should not mix is in itself a piece of petty politics to stop the already disenfranchised right in their tracks. Sport is part of the wider process of globalization in which money, people, ideas and images flow ever faster across borders, mixing, merging, evolving and creating ever new variations of fashion and behaviour – so sport is part and parcel of this global interchange as it possesses the ability to challenge and confirm social stereotypes. If you are in Namibia during the months of June/July 2006 and you’re not a football fanatic – please don’t despair! Whilst many football followers are itching to see the oval ball get rolled at this year’s eagerly-awaited FIFA World Cup finals in Germany, “bird flu permitting”, excuse the pun !!, some people have already resigned themselves to spend the inevitable cold nights in the comfort of their bedrooms while cursing the English for inventing the beautiful game. Namibia is to play host to the second edition of the Zone Six Under 20 Youth Games – with the torch to be lit on the 26th of June 2006, at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium. All ten Zone Six members will be in action and will be joined by the rest of the SADC family, namely, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Madagascar, and Mauritius to complete the lineup for this historic event. The biennial event is alphabetically allocated to all Zone Six members, and so far Mozambique hosted the maiden edition of the biennial event in 2004 after the failure of Lesotho and Malawi to meet their obligations in 2000 and 2002 respectively. Six disciplines are scheduled to be on display, with Athletics, Soccer, Boxing, Netball, Basketball and Tennis all taking centre stage. The event is likely to be followed with an eagle eye by our nemesis since the Namibian Football Association is seriously vying to be given the right in hosting the 2010 edition of the continent’s biggest showpiece, the African Cup of Nations finals. And while I have no doubt in my mind about the ability of Namibia to host events of this magnitude – I would like to urge all stakeholders irrespective of their differences to rally behind such ventures in an effort to put Namibia on the map. But, does Namibia have the necessary infrastructure and capacity to stage international events? – a BIG YES !!, the only problem with our people is the notion of “them and us”, very much against the spirit of national interest. Last Saturday, I shed a tear or two after seeing so many local football fans rallying behind the Civilians, which steered them to their historic victory over the Angolan champions GD Segrada Esperanza in the first leg of their African Champions League. This is the kind of spirit we all like to see because Civics qualified for the event by virtue of being the Namibian champions – thus, the Maroon and White outfit was not only representing Master van Staden and his troops, but the entire country. What many people do not realize is any good showing by our teams in domestic competitions such as this will only augur well for Namibia as it would also improve our ranking. When Helmuth Schar-nowski and his departed partner Dr Agatha Pellmanova took over the reins at a financially-crippled young football team going by the name of Civics, many accused the pair of having sinister moves and were very much against the idea, but luckily the pair enjoyed the support of football authorities and the media. Now, the costly investment is bearing fruit as Civics have undoubtedly taken the lead in taking Namibian football towards professionalism and it is now for others to follow suit. It’s a pity some of our corporate businesses are not vigorous enough in their marketing approach, as one would have expected several airlines to seize this opportunity and make firm offers to would-be traveling football fans for the second leg away in Luanda. Anyway, congratulations to the Civilians and notably the country’s most talented footballer Congo Hindjou, who came out of self-imposed exile from football to show the much-fancied Angolans the finer tricks on how to chase an inflated pigskin without shedding an ounce of sweat. You just cant’ keep a good man down, who knows what could have happened had petty football politics not kept Hindjou out of the Brave Warriors’ catastrophic campaign in the last two regional COSAFA Castle Cup competitions. Halt, let me call it quits for now as I urgently need to refill, so until next Friday – I’m off.
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