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.