The Biggest Joke!

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The somewhat piteous route taken by the country’s supreme sport body, the National Sports Commission, to drag one of its own affiliates to court for an apparent unpaid debt of N$300 000, left me totally flabbergasted and I took a great deal of time to find a suitable description for all these shenanigans. The judgment from the high court, which appeared in the Observer dated the 24th instant, made yours truly to sum it up this way and I must admit I had to hurriedly borrow some phrases from my mentor, the great American darkie Martin Luther King Jr – the exercise reminds one of somebody killing your parents and then pity you for being an orphan or cutting off your legs and hate you for being a cripple. As they say, success always comes at a price and the cash-stripped Rugby Union fell victim of this old adage after the National Under-19 Rugby Fifteen’s qualification for the International Rugby Board World Championship in Durban, South Africa, in 2004. Qualification for any international participation, let alone a global event, is no chicken feed because one needs piles of moola to compete at this level in terms of preparation, appearance fees, performance bonuses, airfare, competent medical staff and a whole range of other expenses. If I’m not mistaken, the National Rugby Union is amongst the rare sport disciplines in this country with fixed assets, and here I’m referring to the Hage Geingob Rugby Stadium situated in Olympia on the outskirts of Windhoek, which is solely the property of the Union. Surely, an amount of N$300 000 is just a drop in the ocean and is not even an ounce worth the lawn on the surface and never mind the modernized suites at the stadium. Recently, local telecommunications giant MTC Namibia pumped a substantial amount of half-a-million-bucks to dispatch the National Under-19 Rugby Fifteen for the World Championships, underway in Dubai. However, there was a shortfall of N$156 000 and the Union once again turned to the Commission for financial injection, but only received a paltry N$29 000. There is an urgent need for a complete overhaul of the current setup as it invites a whole range of unanswered questions; how on earth does any clear minded and confirmed individual justify the selection criteria when it comes to the allocation of funds to various sport codes? The so-called categories in which certain codes are placed are the biggest joke I’ve ever come across in my many years as a pen pusher on sport politics. Rightly so, Soccer, Athletics and Boxing are placed in category-A, but the inclusion of Netball and Hockey in the same bucket at the expense of Rugby is sickening, to say the least. We all know very well the oval ball is the domain of the Klipdrift and Boerewors bellied laanies, but alas rugby is big stuff and should be treated accordingly. Only those at the helm of the Sport Commission would be able to give an explanation as to how a popular code such as Rugby could be paired alongside minnows in the form of Gymnastics, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball, and Basketball – unless somebody has taken leave of their senses. Furthermore, the envisaged allocated amounts to the selected categories are enough to convince those in the know that everything is not exactly well in our current sport setup right from the top and all the way down to the basement. The codes in category A are given a yearly grant of N$6 000 for Administration, and a further N$45 000 for Development, while a paltry amount of N$30 000 is set aside for National and International participation, while their cousins lingering in category B, must be satisfied with almost half the cake. In addition, there is an unspecified amount for a special grant should some of the codes go beyond their skeleton budgets. Yours truly has it on good authority that the National Sport Commission is planning to review these patchy policies in due course and one really hopes the said retreat would finally bring an end to this miscarriage of justice. The unorthodox action by the Sport Commission in taking the Rugby Union to court is sending wrong signals to various sport codes and many disciplines would now have to first count the costs for international participation before thinking about qualification. Holla outies !!, it’s jibos to apply brakes since I’m almost certain some little punks out there dearly want to see the back of me – well !! enjoy it while it lasts. So, until next Friday, it’s ADIOS.