The old adage in African culture that when a child leaves his parents’ home to enter uncharted territory, he must do so with the blessings of their father, played its hand with Namibia’s International Rugby Board (IRB) World Cup-bound team.
The entire travelling entourage to the United Kingdom yesterday paid a courtesy call at State House to bid farewell and receive the blessings of the Namibian Head of State, Dr Hage Geingob.
The sports-crazy President, who is also patron of the Namibian Rugby Union (NRU), was his usual joyous self when he welcomed the team at a special luncheon, which was also attended by invited Cabinet ministers including the sports minister Jerry Ekandjo.
In his send-off address, the President wished the team the best of luck but was quick to remind them of their responsibility while representing the Land of the Brave on foreign soil.
“We are very proud of you because you are going to represent Namibia at a world stage, not only on the field of play but as true ambassadors. Some of you have made sacrifices by taking time off your busy schedules, while some have left their professional clubs all over the world to come and represent their motherland.”
Though admitting that the competition will be tough, Geingob said he has been watching the Namibian World Cup-bound team in action in matches leading up to the competition, and expressed optimism about the team’s progress.
“I’ve been watching you and what I’ve observed is a different team from what we had in the past. I’m very confident this team has what it takes to put up a gallant display and do us proud when the games get underway.”
He further expressed the hope that Namibia would at least fashion a win from one of their group matches, given the composition and strength of the current squad.
“It’s my dream to beat the All Blacks and although my busy schedule would not allow me to be present and support the team in person, I will keenly follow your progress. If you make it to the knockout stages, time permitting I could be there to support you,” Geingob added to loud applause from those in attendance.
The NRU president Bradley Basson applauded Geingob for the gesture and reiterated the importance of sports.
“I’m confident the boys will do us proud because we have been training extensively and I will take this opportunity to thank our government and all stakeholders for their support and valuable contribution towards the team’s participation in the global showpiece.”
Basson handed the team’s replica jerseys to both Geingob and the line minister Ekandjo as a token of appreciation.
The team leaves for England, United Kingdom, next Tuesday and open their fifth consecutive assault in the global showpiece with a tie against cup holders New Zealand on September 24.