Cash crunch keeps Beach Volleyball from Olympics

By Michael Uugwanga

DIRECTOR of Beach Volleyball in Namibia James Verrinder said if it was not for financial difficulties Namibia could be in the 2020 Beach Volleyball Olympic Games Qualifiers.

Beach Volleyball has been an Olympian sport code since 1996 after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to include it as a regular Olympian code. The 2020 Olympic Games will take place in Japan from 24 July until August, with Volleyball being one of the codes at the Games.

Beach Volleyball in Namibia is still facing huge challenges, such as  matching the already established sport codes in the country like Football, Athletics, Cricket, Boxing, Tennis, Swimming, Archery, Rugby and many more, due to lack of understanding about the code among spectator audiences, but the Namibia Volleyball Federation (NBF) has been working tirelessly in promoting the code.

Speaking in an interview with Confidente Sport Desk ahead of two upcoming beach volleyball events, namely Windhoek Draught DTS Volleyball for all 2020 (6-a-side) on 1 February and Timeout Mixed Grand Slam (Beach Volleyball on 22 February at the Deutscher Turn und Sportverein (DTS) pitch, Verrinder said he hopes to see NVF taking part in major competitions if funds become available.

“We are hoping to participate in some international tournaments in 2020, but again, money has held us back from entering into the Tokyo Olympic Qualification tournament this time. We had a very successful female senior beach volleyball team four years ago. Our female national team participated in the qualification tournaments for the Rio Olympics but did not make it.

“However, for the first time they qualified to the African finals in Nigeria and finishing in seventh place out of the 10 participating countries, which was impressive for us, judging by the little resources we have. Beach Volleyball has grown dramatically in Namibia over the 7-8 years. We have a good number of volleyball athletes that participate in both 6-a-side volleyball and beach volleyball. The depth of athletes has grown and we now have a good number of athletes that play beach volleyball on a regular basis and not just participate in a tournament once a year.

“The NVF has worked hard to provide clinics in most of the regional associations over the past two years and we are aiming to host NVF beach volleyball tournaments in Oshakati, Rundu, Swakop, Windhoek and Oranjemund in 2020. Our best result to date is the silver medal we won at the first African Beach Volleyball Games in Cape Verde in June 2019 and as a result we were awarded with the Tafel Lager Team of the Year at the NSC Sports Awards,” said Verrinder.

NVF has about 30 registered beach volleyball teams countrywide. NVF does not receive any monthly grants from the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) for administration purposes, but whenever the team goes to represent the country abroad or hosts an international event its players receive national colours as part of the rules and regulations of the Sport Act.

“Over the last few years we had between 20 and 30 teams participating in various competitions. Approximately, we have around 15 men playing beach volleyball, ten that play mixed beach volleyball and we also have about six females playing beach volleyball.

“We are still waiting to confirm the prize money for 2020, in 2019 the prize money in men’s category was N$1,500 for first place, second place N$1,000 and third place N$500, while in the social league the first place team in the women’s category was N$750 for first place, second place N$500 and third place N$250.

“The largest challenge we face is financial. We want to support and develop beach volleyball with everyone in the country, but finance is difficult to support athletes, buy and maintain equipment and travel. Similar problems to most sports code, but particularly difficult for a new sport to push through.

“Bank Windhoek has been sponsoring NVF Beach Volleyball for over eight years. We are very pleased to continue working with them and are thankful that they are supporting both NVF indoor and beach volleyball. The female team this year also finished sixth at the All-African Games in Morocco in August 2019,” said Verrinder.

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