By Carlos Kambaekwa
Namibia is to dispatch a strong contingent of 160 athletes and officials to the third edition of the biennial Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) Zone Six Games in Potchefstroom, South Africa, which gets under way on the 6th of October this year.
Mozambique hosted the maiden edition of the youth competition with Namibia replacing mandatory hosts Lesotho as host nation in 2006, after the tiny southern African enclave failed to secure funding for the staging of the competition, which strictly caters for athletes under the age of 20.
The Chef de Mission of the Namibian contingent for this year’s games Ndeulipula Hamutumwa, says the primary objective of the games is to encourage young sportspeople to develop towards stages where they can in future represent their respective nations and the whole region internationally.
The games also seek to enable young people from different member states in the SADC region to meet, mingle and get to know each other with the aim of developing the required community spirit and regional integration.
“It’s our wish to develop a spirit of fair play, mutual respect and Olympism amongst young athletes in the region and to provide opportunities for all SADC member states to unite in working on an agreed common sports programme.”
Hamutumwa says the Zone Six Vision is a symbol of unity, network and promotion of Olympism values, whilst it also serves as a vehicle for the creation of sportsmanship, regional reconciliation and more importantly, to create economic opportunities.
Eight disciplines will be on display, namely, athletics, basketball, boxing, football, netball, tennis, swimming and athletics for the visually impaired athletes.
Hamutumwa adds that the games would be used as a stepping-stone towards nurturing athletes for future international participation following the resolution by the SCSA Zone Six Supreme Council targeting a combined haul of 13 gold medals from the 2012 London Olympics in the United Kingdom.
The athletes participating in this year’s Zone Games are also targeted to represent their respective countries during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India as well as the 10th edition of the All Africa Games in Lusaka, Zambia the following year.
Local sport medic expert, Donatha Ngunovandu, is heading the Namibian contingent’s medical department to this year’s games and the highly knowledgeable sports medic expert says preparations are well on track and athletes will be subjected to several tests to ensure they are in shape in shape ahead of the games.
The Secretary-General of the Namibian contingent to the Zone Six Games Hibertine Mbasuva has requested all selected athletes to submit their travelling documents, including their birth certificates well in advance for accreditation with the deadline set for end of this month.
“The reason why we want all documents is simply because we would like to have able time to peruse the documents thoroughly in our bid to eradicate age cheating, as we view this irritating practice in a very serious light.”
Any participating nation found guilty of age cheating would be summarily disqualified from the tournament, and the ceiling on all participants’ birth certificates is set for 1989 and above.
Mbasuva assured athletes that measures are being put in place by the local organizing committee to protect visiting athletes against xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
In an effort to improve on her overall third place during the 2nd edition, Namibia has set up several training camps in Windhoek billed for September this year.
Namibia ended fourth in the first edition of the games in Maputo, Mozambique.