Thursday, January 19, 2006 - Web posted at 8:47:18 GMT
2006 Commonwealth Games preparations in disarray
- CORRY IHUHUA
NAMIBIA’S preparations for the Commonwealth Games in Australia are in disarray because no participating code has received a cent to prepare for the games, which start in just over a month.
So far, all codes taking part in the Games have been running training programmes on their own budgets, while some track-and-field athletes and boxers are low on morale as they cannot afford transport costs to training grounds and also do not have adequate training facilities.
The Commonwealth Games will take place from March 15 to 26 in Melbourne and the Namibian delegation is expected to leave on March 4.
At this stage, the Namibian National Olympic Committee (NNOC) has not announced the names of the competitors from the different codes that will compete Down Under, but has already announced the list of travelling officials at a lavish event held in the capital late last year.
Government channels funds to the Namibia Sport Commission (NSC) for the preparation of athletes in all the different codes that have been identified to take part at the Games.
A total of 54 competitors will represent Namibia from eight codes.
The codes are athletics, boxing, shooting, swimming, gymnastics, bowling, cycling and rugby.
Government was supposed to release at least N$1,4 million (specifically for the Commonwealth Games) to the NSC to cater for local preparations, while some of the money will be used for accommodation and transport for athletes and officials in Australia.
According to Namibia Boxing Federation (NBF) national co-ordinator Ambrosius Kandjii, this year’s preparations followed a predictable path.
"Each year it is a matter of last-minute preparations from our authorities.
These people just do not realise how important it is for teams to prepare for such events.
It is a waste of money to send boxers or any other athlete to such a global competition after only having them in camp two or three weeks before the event.
There won’t be any dedication, commitment and of course any medals.
It will basically just be a holiday," he said.
He said there was chaos in 2003 ahead of the All Africa Games and Namibia performed woefully and the same was repeated at the 2004 Olympic Games, with all track-and-field athletes producing shocking results.
In 2005, Namibia once again performed below par due to last-minute preparations for the African Championships, but boxing saved some face by winning one gold medal and two silver medals.
Like Kandjii, Athletics Namibia (AN) secretary-general Elizabeth Kamutuezu is upset about the lack of commitment and urgency of the authorities in allocating funding to the codes to be better prepared before the Games.
"This time, we should have had several training camps with the aim to have the athletes well prepared because there is not much time left.
It is pointless to deal with authorities who do not have the interest of the athletes at heart, let alone the pride of the country which will be at stake at the Games," she said.
Namibia’s Director of Sport, Vetumbuavi Veii, told The Namibian Sport yesterday that the money was being transferred to the NSC.
“We already initiated the process for the transfer of the money from the Ministry of Finance and we are confident that it will reach the NSC soon,” he said.
NSC administrative secretary Rusten Mogane said he was aware that there was a big outcry from the various codes on the preparations funds, but his office was waiting for the Government to transfer the funds to it.
“We had a meeting yesterday (Tuesday) and we have the assurance that the money will reach us soon,” he said.
Mogane gave the assurance that the codes will receive the funding next week.
But Kandjii says it will be of little help, because the rules preclude his boxers from taking part in any fights 30 days ahead of the tournament.
Boxing needed at least N$300 000 at the beginning of this month to organise three high-profile training camps for the seven boxers who are going for the Games, while athletics have budgeted N$200 000 for their athletes, which at this stage only include Agnes Samaria and Elizabeth Monghudi.
Others still need to meet qualifying times at meetings that are still to be organised.
When asked about the preparations of the different codes, the Chef de Mission for the 2006 Commonwealth Games, Joan Smit, admitted that they were “far behind”.
"We have delays in the payment of monies to codes for the preparations to be carried out effectively.
But we are working on it and we hope that all will be there before we leave," she said.