Uutoni begs for more money
THE disappointment of having national sport teams fail to honour their international commitments could rear its head once again, if government fails to allocate sufficient funds towards national teams that are scheduled to compete internationally during the remainder of this year, and by extension early next year. Namibia has in the recent past seen the national Under-23 football team denied an opportunity to campaign for the Africa Cup of Nations, the tournament will determine which countries will represent the continent at the 2022 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. The Under-23 national side were pitted against Angola late last year but they withdrew from the scheduled encounter due to lack of funds. The national Under-20 team also had to sacrifice their ambition on the altar of economic austerity by withdrawing from the Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup in Zambia in 2018, while the Under-17 side was also not able to compete in the regional tournament for financial reasons a few years ago. In the 2019/20 budgetary allocation the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service received N$286 million, with N$255.2 million for its operational budget and N$30.8 million for the development budget. During his budget motivation statement early last week, Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service Erastus Uutoni pleaded with fellow parliamentarians to direct sufficient funds, as needed by the various sport teams to honour their international sporting commitments that apparently did not receive any budgetary consideration during the previous financial year. The minister pointed out that the country had made great strides and qualified for international games scheduled for this year, and therefore a capital injection was required to ensure the teams’ intensive preparation, which involves mainly training camps and offering performance incentives. “It is imperative for Namibia to participate in these activities and a failure to participate will result in penalties against the country that are normally higher than the participation costs,” warned Uutoni. Under the hammer are the Brave Warriors and Welwitschias (senior national rugby team), who unfortunately will not get any funding for their respective participation in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and the senior national team scheduled to compete in the 2019 International Rugby Board (IRB) world cup in Tokyo, Japan. The Sport Minister singled out Namibia’s participation at the 2019 African Games slotted for Morocco later this year. “It is clear that the allocation to the ministry will not be sufficient to cater for the participation of the Brave Warriors, set to take part in the 2019 AFCON Cup, as well 2019 Rugby world cup.” To add salt to the injury, the minister said the senior hockey women team with their exceptional ranking of 42 in the world and number one ranking on the continent, as well as being crowned African Open Series champions last year, are eligible to participate in the 2020 Olympic qualifiers, taking on Spain in June. He added that the Namibian Paralympic team would participate in two major competitions that serve as qualifiers for the 2020 Paralympic Games during the current book-year, and were scheduled to take part in the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in November, including the African Paralympic Games scheduled for January next year. “The teams need to go into training camps, which amongst others include competition against other national teams,” Uutoni reminded the House.