Paralympics team deserves more funding
For three games in a row, our Paralympics team has made a strong case of why the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service should focus more on them, than their able-bodied counterparts.
The Paralympics team has won at least a medal at each of the last three Paralympic Games since 2008, while the Olympics team has failed to scoop even a single medal.
The head-to-head statistics show that the Paralympics team is leading the Olympics team 3-0, as they did the country proud in the past three Paralympic games.
The success of the Namibian Paralympics team bears testimony to the hard work by the National Paralympic Committee of Namibia, which has had to make do with meagre resources.
As an example, government allocated only N$1,3 million for the preparation of the Paralympics team, ahead of the Rio Games, and yet our athletes still managed to win medals.
In 1992, Namibia only had two representatives at the Paralympic Games, and failed to win a medal. Namibia was absent from the 1996 and 2000 games, because back then, our people did not take Paralympic sports seriously.
Reginald Benade was the only Namibian representative at the 2004 Paralympic Games, in the discus throwing competition, while in 2008 Namibia won its first Paralympic medal (a bronze) in Beijing.
The country won gold and silver medals in 2012, when Johanna Benson took the London Paralympics by storm.
Rio was another successful campaign, with a total five medals, which saw the country ranked eighth in Africa and 53rd globally on the medals table.
This is a clear sign that the Namibian Paralympic team is clearly overshadowing the country’s Olympic team.
The achievements of the Paralympic team deserve to be rewarded by the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, through more funding.
On the basis of results alone, Paralympics is the future for Namibia in terms of medal performances, while able-bodied athletes have a long way to go to reach the same level.
The truth is that able-bodied athletes have been making up the numbers at recent Olympic Games, literally wasting taxpayers’ money in the process.
It will be interesting to see how the government and corporate world goes about rewarding our Paralympic heroes.
South Africa is a great example of how you treat those who have achieved greatness at global sporting events. Jerry Ekandjo can learn a thing or two from his South African counterpart, Fikile Mbalula, who is energetic and passionate when it comes to his portfolio.
Again, I mean no disrespect to our motherland, but I think a few of our athletes sometimes wish that they were competing for South Africa, because of the recognition and support those athletes in that country get from their sport ministry.
It is not just government that plays a huge role in the development of athletes in South Africa, but the corporate world has also responded positively.
This is one of the reasons why that neighbouring country has been better than us in sport for many years.
The National Paralympics Committee of Namibia has proven its worth and I believe it is time that they are given the respect they deserve.
Let us celebrate and show our appreciation for the likes of Ananias Shikongo and Johannes Nambala, who made us proud at the Rio Paralympics.