Shooting The Hip It’s that time of the year again when many of us would like to reflect on our failures over the last 12 months or so, but more importantly our achievements since it would be nonsensical to ponder about things we can’t change. The year 2006 was certainly not a bed of roses for Namibian sport with tragedy, wrangles, slugging initiatives and kangaroo justice dominating the back pages more than anything else. The lack of protective legislation within our football structures with regard to players suffering life threatening injuries has resulted in catastrophic financial implications for the already financially-struggling football clubs. Recently, two players from Blue Waters were stretchered off the field with serious head injuries in the team’s ill-fated semifinal clash against Civics in the FNB Christmas Cup at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium – leaving the coastal outfit with a sizeable hospital bill. Clearly the time is ripe for all clubs, irrespective of their standing, to re-conceptualize the commercial element of their affiliation. The task of clarifying policy is an urgent one and unless policies are discussed widely, we are likely to reproduce policies which do not meet with fundamental social needs, since many issues of great concern have emerged which present challenges to those searching for a democratic and just society. The tragic car accident which resulted in the deaths of two promising sport stars the Davin sisters, has not only left a vacuum in the Davin clan, but robbed the country of future Olympic hopefuls. And while the sporting fraternity was struggling to come to terms with the passing of the two Davin daughters, another tragedy struck again when news came through on Monday that the founding Father of Namibian Hockey Dr Laurie Jubber had gone to meet his maker. Earlier this year, a bunch of unruly and self proclaimed football officials tried by all means to wrestle power from the Namibian Football Association under the guise of “Vote of no Confidence” – a move which was clearly based on tribal lines. The seemingly never-ending wrangles in Athletics Namibia turned its ugly head for the umpteenth time resulting in Namibia almost being shown the door by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF). The relegation of former league champions Chief Santos from top flight football was certainly a bitter pill to swallow for many football followers including yours truly, but rules are rules and we all have to abide by them – its jibbos for clubs to realize matches are won on the football pitch and not on the green table in the boardrooms. If a team like Golden Bees with its limited budget could develop a habit of bouncing back after sporadic visits to the lower ranks, I can’t see why Santos cannot do the same and reclaim their rightful position when the 2006/2007 season gets underway in earnest. On a rather positive note, its lekka to see African Stars making inroads into their former glory days and had Lady Luck not turned her cheek on the Samba Boys with a little bit of sympathy from the man in black – Stars would have restored a good portion of lost pride in great fashion in the final of the lucrative FNB Cup last Saturday. A very dubious penalty decision against the Samba Boys put paid to the team’s aspirations for their first major trophy in as many years, but the Katutura giants can take solace from the fact that they gave the expensively-assembled Civics outfit a good run for their mega bucks. Seeing Colin “Collymore” Benjamin playing for Hamburg in the World’s most prestigious club competition, the European Champions League is something that I would always treasure for the rest of my ageing days. On the national side, there has been a remarkable improvement in the Brave Warriors’ performance since the appointment of Zambian mentor Ben Bamfuchile and if the team’s performance during the early stages of the campaign for the 2008 African Nations Cup finals in Ghana is anything to go by – football lovers should start putting some moola aside for a three-week long holiday in the West African country come 2008. However, the same cannot be said about the junior teams and something must be done to remedy the situation in this regard – there is absolutely no proper structure in place for youth development with coaches hell-bent on getting results which has resulted in the fielding of over-aged players at the expense of youngsters. The fact that the Namibian Football Association did not even bother to enter a team for the qualifiers of the African Youth Cup in Togo next year clearly demonstrates the Association’s casual approach towards Youth Development. Next door across the road, a defiant Dirk Conradie and his buddies continue to make the doubting Thomasses sit and eat humble pie after the National Rugby Fifteen qualified for their third successive appearance at the prestigious World Cup finals in France next year. As usual, boxing continues to do their witties in the boxing ring and this scenario appeared to have left other sporting disciplines green with envy – athletics officials with the bohemian Brra Alpha aka “Barry White” Kangueehi leading the pack are so fascinated by the success of boxing that they have now resorted to achieving their objectives by trading blows through the back pages. The least said about netball the better ………………. . Cricket remain son the right track and could become a force to be reckoned with in One Day Internationals if the team plays more test matches, while Hockey also continues to make progress despite the continuous lack of Astroturf pitches in the country which could have a serious impact on international participation. Dear readers enjoy your Xmas and keep a healthy distance from Tswala while navigating the sticks because one lapse of concentration could result in catastrophic consequences. Sharp, and all the best my outies, I’m running a bit low on ink and urgently need to refill after a hectic year.