Year of Ups and Downs

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek In many respects, the year 2006 was an up and down one for Namibian sport, both on domestic and international level. Save for the rugby team’s qualification for the 2007 World Cup, and the gold and bronze medal victories at the Sydney Commonwealth Games, there is little else to write home about Namibia’s performances. The year will be remembered more for developments on the international scene, particularly in the boardrooms of codes like athletics and soccer. In both these codes, the intervention of the international governing bodies, IAAF and FIFA, had to be sought to steer them on the right course. Sadly, although there is some direction in soccer with the election of a new NFA President, the fight for the reins of athletics is set to continue into the new year and is again likely to draw in the sports minister John Mutorwa and IAAF Africa area representative Leonard Chuene. Following is a brief analysis of what transpired during the year, locally and internationally; Athletics The fight for the leadership continued with performances on the field overshadowed by boardroom politics. Namibia’s only hope at the Commonwealth Games, Agnes Samaria withdrew from the games due to injury. Namibia’s chances on the track looked pale and with the All Africa Games and Olympics Games scheduled for 2007 and 2008 respectively, Namibians can prepare for a disappointing appearance at the to international competitions. Long distance runner Hilaria Johannes provided the only sunshine for the athletics fraternity with a good a performance in South Africa at the Two Oceans marathon. No wonder she had little competition in scooping the sportswoman of the year award. Football The year 2006 was a year of transition for Namibian football, which has provided hope for the future. Soon after Judge Petrus Damaseb resigned as the Namibia Football Association (NFA) president the game was thrown into turmoil asa group, which called its self the ‘Concern Group’, tried a palace coup. However, the government through the ministry of sport intervened as well as the football governing body Fifa. The timely intervention brought some stability to the game until the Fifa Roadmap, which was overseen by its development officer Ashford Mamelodi, was implemented. In the end former Damaseb number 2, John Muinjo, won the presidency and brought the much-needed stability to the game. On the football pitch, the Brave Warriors regained some pride after beating Ethiopia in the qualifying round of the 2008 African Nations Cup. Despite losing to the Democratic Republic of Congo 3-2, the performance was satisfactory and there is now real belief that the team can qualify for Ghana in 2008. All thanks to the new national team coach and the NFA leadership. On the domestic front, Civics continued to become a dominant force and after scooping the Namibia Premier League early in the year gave their fans an early Christmas gift by wining the FNB Cup. On the international front the FIFA 2006 World Cup provided the sporting highlight of the year.