Japan, Namibia sign deal to help sport

LIMBA MUPETAMI

WINDHOEK

Namibia signed a cooperation agreement with Japan in October last year to address the lack of modern sport facilities, well-trained coaches and opportunities for athletes.

The executive director of sports, Audrin Mathe, spoke to Namibian Sun about the differences between this agreement and the one that was signed years ago with Jamaica.

Mathe explained that the agreement between Namibia and Jamaica focused on training coaches at institutions of higher learning more than anything else.

He said the agreement with Japan will provide technical expertise and access to exchange programmes.

He added that the cooperation agreement will also offer support such as hosting teams if they are competing in any country near Japan.

For example, if Namibia is to compete in a competition in China, the team can be hosted in Japan for training camps and acclimatising to the weather.

Mathe added that as soon as the two governments sign a new agreement, it will be shared with the media.

In the past, the cooperation that Namibia had with Jamaica saw athletes such as Hitjiverue Kaanjuka, Globine Mayova, Lelanie Klaasman, Tjipekapora Herunga, and Dantago Gurirab training in Jamaica. The aim was for the athletes to win medals at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Their quest to reach the Olympics was unsuccessful. Herunga achieved the Olympic qualifying standard three times, but the Namibia National Olympic Committee, which requires athletes to qualify twice, refused to acknowledge two of those results achieved at the 2015 All Africa Games in Congo-Brazzaville. The continental competition was not recognised as an Olympic qualifying event.

At other competitions that followed, athletes struggled with funding to continue competing.

Some sports pundits said the athletes sent to those competitions were past their prime.

One athlete Namibian Sun spoke to said they struggled a lot. He added that he completed a course in safety and security whilst in Jamaica, though.

The team training in Jamaica was accompanied by local coach Letu Hamhola, who is now actively involved with the Paralympic athletes of Namibia.