Shooting From the Hip – Wolves in sheep’s clothing and annual sports awards

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STEWARDSHIP is an ethic that embodies the responsible management or care of affairs or resources. A steward does not own anything and is not a boss or master, but a person who acts as the surrogate of

another or others. As a leader, a steward is one who possesses essential qualities, which engender confidence, trust and loyalty and requires magnanimity, justness and fairness and should not be crooked, petty or abusive. A good steward develops, guides and rewards justly and fairly for excellent performance, while censure and punishment are a measure of last resort.

Yours truly has deliberately chosen to use the concept of stewardship to interrogate and take a critical view of the leadership crises among dozens of sporting disciplines in our country. By and large, our sports administrators lack gravitas or ‘the densities of the unspoken’ and this is what separates good leaders or stewards from petty tyrants and bogus leaders and managers of dubious pedigree. What is required and needed at this critical juncture in the development of sports in this country is for leaders of true character and substance, courage, moral uprightness, dignity, seriousness and an unquestionable reputation for logical thinking and getting things right to stand up and be counted. As the saying goes, for evil to triumph it only requires good men and women to remain silent and uninvolved. As it stands, Namibian sports is oversupplied with hopelessly too many mediocrities and pseudo-leaders who are hell-bent on surrounding themselves with their cronies and are selfish and without vision and therefore unable to serve in the truest sense of the word. They are not stewards, but a self-serving lot. They can be likened to wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Our sports leaders have failed dismally to develop rapport with the athletes and other key stakeholders, while the deliberate and constant sidelining of the fifth estate of the realm – the media, has culminated in many a sports administrator pressing the self-destruct button at the slightest provocation. Tonight, Namibians will be waiting with bated breaths when the country’s leading athletes are honoured for their achievements during the sports season under review, but once again what is genuinely meant to be the flagship event on our annual sports calendar is being hampered by sports administrators’ inability to think rationally. Or else, how does one explain the conspicuous absence of Namibia’s most valued rugby player Jacques Burger, who is enjoying a stellar season with his English club Saracens in one of the world’s top rugby leagues, let alone the fact that our Captain Fantastic, was deservedly voted player of the month recently in that faraway neck of the woods. It also goes beyond any comprehension as to why the Namibian Football Association (NFA) did not nominate football wunderkind Reginald ‘Kokorot’ Willemse, in the category for the junior men’s award. Young Kokorot is making headlines with his South African club Ajax Cape Town, where he is a regular starter for the club’s Under-17 side under the tutelage of former Bafana Bafana left back David Nyathi.

One cannot help but laugh at the nomination of Harry ‘The Hurricane’ Simon in the category for Most Improved Sportsman of the Year award. Hello!! Harry is going nowhere very fast. He has reached the end of his tether. At his age we can hardly speak of improvement. That category is more suitable for a young, promising personality and not a troglodyte nearing extinction! This is not meant to detract from his admirable achievements in the past, for he is doubtlessly and will remain one of Namibia’s most successful professional boxers to date. Granted, the brother is unbeaten in the Lord knows how many fights (29) since he won his first world title way back in 1998, but those at the helm of the Namibian Boxing Federation are probably blinded by blind loyalty at the expense of what logic would normally suggest.

To rub more salt into the wound, some sporting disciplines are so sloppy in their nominations that they don’t bother to peruse the criteria and requirements – hence the nomination of foreigners for awards, while it is clearly stated that such nominations are ineligible. This type of reckless nomination and laxity is detrimental to the credibility of the awards, including the affected athletes. All these shenanigans could have been avoided if those in charge of umbrella sports bodies and associations had bothered to apply the barest modicum of effort and logical thinking by seeking advice from those in the know to shield them from this unnecessary self-inflicted embarrassment that has left them with egg on the face.

Namibia’s top cyclist Costa Seibeb, is in my opinion a serious contender for the prestigious Sportsman of the Year award, but he was inexplicably overlooked and left out of this particular category and was instead nominated condescendingly for the Most Improved Athlete of the Year award, which amounts to undervaluing the athlete’s genuine achievements. In conclusion, let us hope that valuable lessons have been learned from this veritable ‘comedy of errors of judgment’ so liberally committed by those self-styled sports gurus, that is if the men in navy suits truly have the best interests of the athletes at heart, as they in fact should as good stewards. Some of them even have the temerity to nominate themselves shamelessly for awards at the expense of deserving athletes. Wolves!. I rest my case.

By Carlos Kambaekwa

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