By Carlos Kambaekwa
It’s that time of the year again where sport enthusiasts would like to get their last dose of their favourite sporting disciplines by reflecting on the year 2007 before its drawing to a close.
The year 2007 has been particularly cool taking into account some of the implemented initiatives including major achievements when it mattered the most – on the playing field.
It was so special in that not only did it mark our National Rugby Fifteen’s third successive participation at the Rugby’s World Cup finals, but also saw the perennially under-achieving Brave Warriors carving themselves a place in the 26th edition of Africa’s biggest showpiece.
Despite the much-publicized tickets scandal on the eve of Namibia’s participation at the finals in France – the boys dusted themselves off and got on with the task at hand despite all the odds staked against them.
Even though the Namibian Rugby Fifteen failed to win a single match during their four-match losing streak in the group stages – the gutsy Namibian amateurs won the hearts of many rugby enthusiasts with their never-say-die attitude against their more fancied opponents.
The team’s performance did not go unnoticed and several players were snapped up and offered lucrative professional contracts abroad which only augurs well for the future of Namibian rugby.
The Warriors made the doubting Thomases sit and chew humble pie when the mainly amateur laden outfit surprised friend and foe by stopping one of the founding members of the Confederation for African Football (CAF) Ethiopia, right in their own tracks in a last-minute dash to launch their 2nd assault at the continental showpiece in Ghana next month.
The Namibian Football Association has in some measure come of age with the national junior teams also moving up the corporate ladder in several international competitions and if the Under-20 team’s performance at the recently concluded Confederation of Southern African Football Associations (COSFA) is anything to go by, then the future of domestic football certainly looks brighter than ever.
The National Women’s football eleven has finally come of age, with the Brave Gladiators seeing off Botswana’s Lady Zebras in the first qualifier for the African Women’s Championships to set up a historic meeting with continental powerhouse Nigeria in the next round.
Civics football club rewrote the history pages when the Khomasdal-based outfit won the domestic elite league for the third year running with a couple of matches in hand.
Off the pitch, the usually bungling Association has made some strides in terms of administration with the near flawless organization of the just concluded maiden edition of the COSAFA Under-17 tournament.
In an ongoing quest to qualitatively decentralize its development demographics, the Association dispatched a team of young footballers, hardly out of their teens, to the biennial Danone Tournament in France earlier this year with the primary aim of exposing boys to the rigours of international football at an early age.
Namibian football also reached another milestone when it finally smashed the required quota of ten FIFA Accredited match officials – surely an achievement on its own.
Let us call a spade just that, and not a sizeable spoon or any kind – there have been casual blunders sporadically but who really cares when the good surpasses the bad. Nonetheless, the Association’s failure to timeously inform clubs about their continental obligation left a bitter taste in the mouth, something not to be taken lightly by any standards to say the least.
The Namibian Cricket Board is still earning global credibility in cricket circles following the National Junior Team’s qualification for the finals of the International Cricket Council Under-19 World Cup finals next year, after the youngsters comfortably won the African qualifying event in August this year.
Namibia also successfully hosted the International Cricket Council World League Division 2 tournament in the capital, and finished amongst the top four nations who earned automatic passage to the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers at the United Arab Emirates in 2009.
The next ICC Cricket World cup finals will be played on the Asian continent in 2011.
The least said about the Namibian contingent to the 9th edition of the All Africa Games in Algeria the better, following the team’s below par showing where they only managed to collect a paltry two medals, courtesy of ageing middle distance athlete Agnes Samaria’s two bronze medals in the 800 and 1 500 metres respectively.
The National Sport Commission’s inability to pinpoint the best sport achievers at the Annual Year-End Sports Awards almost spoiled a near faultless sporting year when a reasonable chunk of the chosen candidates raised a significant number of eyebrows – putting the selectors’ credibility at stake if there was ever any.