By Carlos Kambaekwa
The Namibian boxing authorities laid out the red carpet for visiting boxers and dignitaries who converged in the country for the final leg of the Olympic African qualifiers.
However, local boxers are not entirely impressed and feel charity should begin at home as they bitterly complain about almost everything, varying from a pittance daily allowance, sub-standard lodging, shoddy training facilities and inadequate transport.
The eight boxers representing Namibia have been bundled into a tiny dormitory at the National Youth Complex near Katutura, an exercise that clearly irritated the Olympic hopefuls as they likened the accommodation to a fish out of the water, notably when athletes are preparing for a global showpiece of such magnitude.
The boxers have been in camp for close to three weeks and some of them claimed to have taken unpaid leave from their place of employment – thus losing thousands of dollars in monthly wages whilst their daily allowance is a far cry from a fraction of what they could have earned.
“The Algerian boxers have been allocated a luxury coach while we are left to negotiate our way to the gymnasium on two legs while it has been raining cats and dogs,” charged an irate boxer who humbly requested anonymity out of fear for being victimized.
“We are really getting pissed off with empty promises coupled with lame excuses because it’s now crystal clear these guys take us for a ride, since they don’t take our complaints seriously.
“By the way, these mafias masquerading as boxing officials never bother to come over here and mingle with us just to find out how we are progressing – all they know is telling the press that the boxers are in a good shape and everything is up and running, while the real deal is the opposite,” lamented another disgruntled boxer.
When word spread that New Era Sports was sniffing around the team’s lodgings, a visibly upset Eliah Ilimali the team manager, tip-toed to the boxers’ dormitory and it was evident from his body language that he was not exactly at ease with the journo’s presence in the surroundings.
He demanded to know whether some of the boxers had called the scribe to complain about something unbecoming towards their wellbeing, but after he was told it was just a routine visit his nerves immediately settled and all the suspicion disappeared with the pace of the wind.