Windhoek-As the curtain to the year 2017 comes down, New Era Sport would like to take you our esteemed and loyal readers down memory lane as we reflect on the high and low moments in the local sports fraternity during the year under review.
As has become customary, especially when the good supersedes the bad, we will start our review with the many achievements witnessed on the local sports arena this year, starting off with the breathtaking achievements of the country’s former triple world champion Julius ‘Blue Machine’ Indongo, who this year became Namibia’s first-ever boxer to simultaneously hold three world titles after the lanky Namibian outfoxed Scotsman Ricky Burns to capture the WBA world super lightweight title, adding it to his IBF and IBO super lightweight belts.
Indongo had earlier in December 2016 knocked out Russian pugilist Eduard Troyanovsky to snatch both the IBF and IBO super lightweight belts, a feat that paved the way for the Burns fight the following year.
With his three world championship belts (WBA, IBF and IBO), Indongo and his promoter, the award-winning MTC Nestor Sunshine Boxing and Fitness Academy, embarked on an ambitious journey to the United States, where he would face American cat-footed boxing sensation Terence Crawford in a historic full unification bout.
Both Indongo and Crawford put all their titles on the line to give birth to a historic full unification fight, featuring Indongo’s WBA and IBF belts and Crawford’s WBO and WBC titles. Before entering the ring to confront Crawford, Indongo had already engraved his name in world boxing history books by become the first African boxer to fight in a full unification fight featuring the world’s four major titles.
Unfortunately, the lion-hearted Namibian did not manage to bring the belts home as he went on to suffer a 3rd round knockout against the tricky American.
Also on a positive note, Namibia’s senior women hockey team this year hogged international headlines when they trounced regional rivals South Africa to book their place at next year’s International Hockey Federation (INF) Indoor Hockey World Cup, slated for Berlin, Germany – where they will be the only African representative at the World Cup.
Still on the positives, Namibia’s Paralympic athletes continue to be the pride and joy of the country as they stamped their authority on the international Paralympics arena. Just this year, Ananias Shikongo, multiple medallist at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil, was again back in the thick of things when he scooped a silver medal at this year’s IPC Athletics World Championship in London and in the process booked himself a place at next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
At the same games, Johannes Nambala, who in 2013 became the first Namibian to win a gold medal at an IPC Athletics World Championships, also brought home two silver medals from this year’s championships.
Also dominating headlines this year were the Brave Warriors, who defied all odds to qualify for next year’s African Nations Championship (CHAN) finals to be held in Morocco in early 2018. It will be Namibia’s maiden appearance at the continental football showpiece. Coach Ricardo Mannetti this year also managed to steer the Brave Warriors to their first ever Dr Hage Geingob Cup victory.
Overall, the Brave Warriors have become a serious force to be reckoned with in regional competitions such as the Cosafa Cup and if their current rich vein of form is anything to go by, Namibia is destined to become one of the major forces in continental football.
Another high moment for local sport fanatics was when the country’s veteran female marathoner Helalia Johannes, who has over the years remained the face and pride of the Namibian marathon, flew the country’s flag high when she finished second overall at the highly competitive Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, where she came second, and for ending in 12th place at this year’s Vienna City Marathon in Austria.
Another notable highlight this year was when the country’s U/20 rugby team was crowned African champions during the U-20 Barthes Trophy, despite losing out on a bronze medal at this year’s World U/20 Rugby Trophy in Uruguay.
Also blazing the local boxing scene was Namibia’s award-winning promoter Nestor Tobias who for the umpteenth time was voted and awarded as the Best Boxing Promoter in Africa by the WBO, while credit should also go to Salute Boxing Academy (SBA) for bringing a new lease of life to local boxing while also giving upcoming and veteran boxers an opportunity to showcase their talents.
The local sports fraternity also experienced its fair share of challenges and tribulations – especially the football fraternity and by extension the entire sports scene.
Chief amongst this year’s setbacks was the repulsive developments at the offices of the Namibia Premier League (NPL), but luckily through the intervention of President Hage Geingob and other valuable stakeholders, especially through the financial backing of MTC and FNB Namibia, local football managed to make its long awaited comeback and granted hundreds of footballers a lifeline.
Another setback this year was when the Office of the Ombudsman compiled and launched a report that highlighted the concealed evils of racism, tribalism and discrimination within the local sporting fraternity. It is sad to note that racism and tribalism are still rearing their ugly heads within the local sports fraternity almost 28 years after Namibia’s hard-earned freedom.
Not only does the ombudsman’s report expose the sad truth but it also goes further to pinpoint the causes of such racial and discriminatory incidents and outlines how and which government institutions should pull up their socks in order to fasten the process of arresting this disgraceful social ill.
The revelations in the report were made based on findings from public hearings that were held countrywide by the ombudsman to establish the level of discrimination that still exists in local sport.
There are a whole range of issues that needs serious attention and corrective measures to be taken by the various authorities tasked with the responsibility of maintaining the growth and success of Namibian sport.
Nonetheless, let me once again take this opportunity to wish you, our esteemed readers, advertisers and all stakeholders a Merry Christmas and Prosperous 2018!!!