…NNOC accused of nepotism
The dust refuses to settle in the wake of Team Namibia’s announcement of the names of the athletes selected for participation in the much-anticipated upcoming Bahamas Commonwealth Youth Games.
Parents, athletic coaches and observers are up in arms crying foul play after the grounding of what they see as more deserving athletes, but whom the NNOC omitted from the traveling entourage.
They have pointed fingers at the secretary general of the Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) Joan Smit, who has been appointed chef de mission to the multi-sport global showpiece.
People have also raised questions about why they overlooked the country’s best-qualified athletics coach, Letu Hamhola, at the expense of less qualified coaches.
“I’ve no qualms with the selection of Lucky [Gawanab], after all, I’m not a youth coach but then again, what is the use of taking a coach whose athletes will not be in action?” Hamhola said.
However, the main bone of contention is the surprise omission of emerging sprinter, Sade De Sousa, whose name was removed from the list by the Olympic committee despite being listed amongst the representatives Athletics Namibia (AN) chose.
Granddaughter of retired African Stars and South West Africa (SWA) lethal toe-poking goal poacher, Ace Tjirera, young Sade, 16, is a sensational sprinter and was rated amongst Namibia’s best medal hopes at the International Youth Games.
Hamhola pulled no punches as he knuckled into the NNOC accusing the powers that be at Tacoma Street of nepotism and being shortsighted.
“It should be noted that Athletics Namibia uses a scoring table from the IAAF as the appropriate barometer to select athletes for high profile international events.
“It’s against this background that the names of deserving athletes were submitted to the NNOC, so it is beyond any comprehension as to how and why the NNOC effected changes to the list,” he said.
The much adored dreadlocked athletics coach also tore into the hierarchy at the NNOC accusing them of bureaucracy.
“This is exactly the same thing that happened to Tjipee (Herunga) when the girl qualified for the Rio Olympics – only to be denied a chance of a lifetime by officials who have no clue about the dynamics of athletics,” Hamhola added.
By his own admission, Hamhola believes that on current form Sade deserves to be in the team and adds that her grounding could have far reaching ramifications.
“She is by miles the best sprinter in the business currently and her suspicious omission could gravely damage her level of confidence,” he remarked.
The NNOC stands accused of tampering with the initial list of athletes submitted by AN, deliberately altering the list and adding field athlete Natalie Louw.
The latter’s current form is in stark contrast with her discarded competitor Christel Klein, who boasts an impressive leap of 1.76 meters.
Another shocking omission is that of sprinting sensation Raymond Hummel from Erongo region who boasts an astonishing time of 46-seconds in the 400-metres.
“This is a travesty of justice and something must be done and those trying to deny these young athletes the opportunity to represent their motherland on the big stage must be held accountable,” charged an irate athletic official who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Insiders are aggrieved that sprinter Ivan Geldenhuys has been given the nod ahead of Hummel, who has recorded faster times than any other local athlete this year, including Geldenhuys.
“The overall composition of the team is not a true reflection of either our strength, genuine quality or the country’s demographic makeup. Until such time sports authorities intervene, these serial injustices will continue unabated,” Hamhola charged.
Contacted for comment, Smit wasted little time in leaping to her own defence, strongly maintaining that they did not doctor the list of athletes names that was submitted but transparently facilitated it as they were originally submitted by AN.
“AN is being economical with the truth, those are the names we received from them, and it is shocking for them (AN) to claim we removed or changed the athletes names on the list initially submitted. They should tell the truth,” Smit fumed.
Joan Smit Head of Mission
Lucky Gawanab Coach/Manager
NNOC altered list:
Ivan Geldenhuys Athlete (400m)
Natalie Louw Athlete (High Jump/Long Jump)
Albertus Smith Athlete (Javelin)
Names of athletes initially submitted by AN:
Sade De Sousa