WINDHOEK – The five-member panel of judges appointed by MTC Namibia and the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) to adjudicate in the annual sports awards were left in total confusion thanks to the highly questionable nominations submitted by the various sports codes, associations and umbrella bodies.
Surprisingly none of the sports codes, with the exception of boxing, have nominated a single candidate in the prestigious category of Sportsman of the Year, a serious omission or error of judgment that could potentially defeat the purpose of the annual event, while the conspicuous absence of many deserving candidates will likely invite justified criticism from local sports followers and athletes alike. Uncertainty hangs over the nomination of Namibia’s veteran professional boxer Harry ‘The Hurricane’ Simon, who has been nominated in the category for Most Improved Sports Personality of the Year Award by the Namibian Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board, despite an unbeaten record of 28 bouts in the paid ranks. Despite his rookie tag, cycling sensation, Costa Seibeb, who has been clanging the chains with poise and maturity and the execution of a seasoned campaigner during high profile international races in recent months, the highly gifted youngster was not deemed fit enough by the Cycling Federation to stake a claim for the Sportsman of the Year award. The 23-year-old cycling sensation was instead nominated in the Most Improved Sportsman of the Year award category, despite being a very strong candidate for the elite Sportsman of Year award.
Awards now bigger and better
Taking a quick glance at the brighter side of the awards, the NSC and sponsors yesterday reaffirmed their commitment towards the empowerment of athletes and sport development when they announced tremendous increments in prize monies for this year’s winners in all categories. This year’s winner in the category Sport Achiever of the Year is guaranteed to walk away with a staggering N$100 000, unlike last year’s winner Johanna Benson who only pocketed N$30 000. Meanwhile, this year’s Sportsman and Woman of the Year awards have also received a major boost, and the winners would now be taking home N$50 000 for their hard work and not the usual N$30 000.
In the category Disabled Sportsman and Woman of the Year there has been some leveling of the ground and as a result this year’s winners will walk away with N$50 000 just like their able-bodied counterparts in the category Sportsman and Woman of the Year. The winners of this year’s Junior Sportsman and Woman of the Year awards will receive an extra N$20 000, and will be walking away with N$30 000 each and not the paltry N$10 000 reward of last year. In its undying efforts to level the playing field, the NSC introduced a new category of Disabled Junior Sportsman and Woman of the Year, which will go a long way in empowering disability sports and aspiring athletes in its ranks.
Winners in this category will pocket N$30 000 each. Unlike in the past when winners in the categories Coach of the Year, Administrator of the Year, Umpire/Referee of the Year and Development Programme of the Year were only awarded gift vouchers, this year the NSC decided to award the winners N$20 000 each.
By Otniel Hembapu