By Carlos Kambaekwa
WINDHOEK – A local sports personality and ardent rugby follower Keith Allies is appealing for the total destruction of white domination in domestic rugby, fingering the tortoise-paced transformation process as his point of departure.
The uncompromising sharp-tongued veteran sports administrator says those that are heavily saddled with discriminatory tendencies usually bring racism into sport, while administrators are meant to raise awareness that addresses the notion of fair play.
Allies calls for an urgent investigation into the inner doings at Lichtenstein-Strasse in Olympia. To back up his concerns, Allies produced a list of discouraging statistics revealing that 24 years after independence in 1990 the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) has dismally failed to transform the game.
His bone of contention is the apparent unequal representation of black Namibians as can be attested by the low number of players who have represented the Welwitschias since independence – a paltry figure of 10 to be precise. It took the NRU a full decade before giving black Namibians a run in the national senior rugby team. Statistics reveal that Morris Kapitako was the first indigenous player when the giant prop made his debut in a low-key test against Zimbabwe in 2000.
This after Namibia had already clocked a massive number of 124 international matches under its belt. Two years later, forward Domingo Kamomgua made his appearance tailed by the trio of Heikie Amakali, Mbaroro Katjiuanjo and Enrico Goab in 2005.
Wacca Kazombiaze made his debut in 2006 against Kenya before Muinjo Kasiringua, Munee Tjiueza and Shaun Kaizemi were all given a run against Spain last year. Tjiuee Uanivi completes the list after making his debut against lowly ranked Germany in Windhoek last year.
Strangely, all these players’ debuts were recorded against lesser opponents Kenya, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Germany and Morocco – raising legitimate questions as to whether their inclusion was not a tailor-made selection to appease the masses.
“For starters, Uanivi and Kaizemi were included in the recent tour to the United Kingdom (UK) but the pair hardly featured. Transformation must have a purpose, and talent identification should be fully representative of the country’s demographic layout,” adds Allies.
Approached for comment, NRU Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sybrand de Beer did not deny the validity of the assessment. “It’s true and indeed a very sad scenario. Honestly speaking, the transformation process did not properly cover a wide range of the Namibian society as we would have preferred but plans are underway to remedy that unfortunate situation. NRU will introduce tangible development programmes at various schools and clubs alike in an effort to speed up the process, where clubs would be obliged to have youth academies in place that will be funded by the union.”
De Beer acknowledged that the NRU for some strange reasons managed to transform rugby from white to brown players but not sufficiently to black communities. “That can be possibly overcome by the inevitable establishment of high performance programmes for junior rugby players,” he added.
Meanwhile, the NRU faces the dilemma of adhering to a set of strict requirement policies in the Vodacom Cup. The rules require participating teams to field at least seven players of colour (three forwards and four backs) during the Welwitschias’ much-anticipated campaign in the South African provincial second tier Vodacom Cup – a development competition tailored for emerging players.
However, NRU General Manager John Williams shrugged off the suggestions saying the said transformation policy is only applicable to South African teams.