Suburbs enraged by ‘previously disadvantaged’ axiom

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Otniel Hembapu

Windhoek-The headship of Namibia’s rugby premiership runners-up, Western Suburbs, have blasted a local daily newspaper for favouritism in its conduct, saying the broadsheet displays no morals when it comes to so-called ‘black’ rugby clubs.

Suburbs’ rage stems from an article carried in a local Afrikaans daily newspaper, which suggested that the Khomasdal club’s qualification to this year’s South African Rugby Union (SARU) Gold Cup was partly by virtue of them being a previously disadvantaged club and not necessarily being the 2017 Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) Premier League runners-up.

The Gold Cup is a top competition for non-university rugby union clubs in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe and since domestic league champions University of Namibia (Unam) are a varsity team, the organisers of the Gold Cup automatically chose to go with runners-up Western Suburbs to represent the country at this year’s competition, since they are not a university team.

The very same protocol was also followed last year when Unam won the league but could not participate and Wanderers, who were last year’s runners-up, ended up taking their spot in the competition. This year Suburbs will represent Namibia in the Gold Cup through the very same etiquette.

But according to the Suburbs management, who issued a strongly worded statement over the weekend, the said newspaper article deliberately chose to brush aside clear facts explaining the competition’s qualification criteria and rather opted to paint Suburbs’ hard-earned qualification as just a mere token by the Gold Cup organisers, since they are a ‘previously disadvantaged’ club.

“Suburbs have over the past 10 years built up a reputable brand which encompasses discipline, attitude, teamwork and excellence in what we do. We have set ourselves objectives to be competitive and a force to be reckoned with, which we proudly have achieved over the past decade. We qualified for the Gold Cup with dignity and pride based on the rules set by the organisers. The reporter referred to us as a previously disadvantaged club and ‘that is how we probably qualified’. This is absolute nonsense. This was and is not a qualification criteria at all. Our players worked hard with dignity, dedication and pride for the position,” reads the statement.

The club’s management further said: “The reporter seems to justify our participation as a favour with reference to a previously disadvantaged club. When we beat Wanderers in the past or during this season, was there any reference made to previously disadvantaged? No, not at all.

“When Wanderers participated during 2016, did we make reference to them as an advantaged club that qualified? No! We should refrain from racially orientated remarks. If we ought to demand bigger participation of players of colour in the national team on similar requirements, of a non-existent Transformation Policy, we are labelled racist. So please do not tag us racially. It must be made clear that Wanderers qualified on exactly the same grounds during 2016 as Suburbs in 2017.”

The 2017 SARU Gold Cup will be the second season of the competition since its name change, having previously been known as the Community Cup. The competition is the top competition for non-university rugby union clubs in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. This year’s competition will retain the same timeslot as the 2016 edition, taking place between September 9 and October 29, 2017.

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