By Sakeus Iikela and John Colin Namene
THE Ministry of Youth, Sports and National Services and the Municipality of Windhoek cited insufficient funds and lack of government support as the main reasons for the poor condition of stadiums in Namibia.
The deplorable state of sports facilities, especially the Sam Nujoma Stadium, is one of the reasons Namibia has been banned from hosting regional and international football matches locally.
In April this year, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) fined the Namibian Football Association (NFA) $ 85,000 for using the dilapidated Sam Nujoma stadium to host a qualifying match for the Cup. of the African Nations (Afcon).
This stadium and many others around the country have since been declared inferior and are no longer suitable for hosting international matches.
The Sports Ministry has been criticized over the years for not prioritizing the development and maintenance of sports facilities in the country.
Last week, a director of the sports ministry, Jo-Ann Manuel, blamed the situation on a lack of adequate funding.
Speaking during a heated debate on The Namibian’s news show, ‘The Conversation,’ Manuel said the ministry had not received any significant budget allocation for the development of the sport over the years.
âThe idea that we are doing nothing is not an accurate reflection of the situation on the ground. . . Ultimately, the budget is passed by parliament. There are just too many stakeholders, complicating the process, âsaid Manuel.
She said CAF’s specifications accurately reflect what is happening on the pitch, but warned it could get worse for Namibia if the issue is not resolved quickly.
âDo we have the money? We do not receive manna money like others in Egypt. We have to go to parliament and the finance ministry, which votes on the budget. It has been years since we got a budget suited to our needs. If he was responsive, we wouldn’t be in that position, âshe said.
âThe problem with sport in this country is not the administration, it is not the players either. It is with those who have the keys to the budgets of this country.
Manuel said the government’s priorities appeared to be in disarray.
According to her, the “budget ceiling excuse” normally invoked by the Ministry of Finance and Finance was also a problem hampering the development of sport in the country.
âYou will go to them and tell them that you need a budget of N $ 7 million, but then they will tell you that there is a cap. This country’s budget system is unresponsive to the community and needs to change. As administrators, we want to do the job, but we have to be empowered, âshe said.
Windhoek City Parks, Sports, Recreation and Cemeteries Director Uakazuvaja Kazombiaze said the municipality has also struggled to secure funds for the development of the sport over the years.
He said, however, that the Sam Nujoma Stadium situation is unique as it is the only large stadium in the city that is used for “all events” – from most Namibian Premier League (NPL) matches to political rallies. and other non-sports. -related activities.
Overuse of the stadium, Kazombiaze said, means it doesn’t have enough room to breathe, which shortens the lifespan of the artificial turf.
Astro artificial turf, the field rug, has a lifespan of about seven years.
âSam Nujoma Stadium has never received the periodic rest it deserves. It was also used for other recreational events. The lifespan of scientific turf also depends on its use. It determines whether the sod can stay longer or needs to be removed sooner. We have taken a position that if we repair and install the (turf), the stadium will only be used for domestic league or first division matches, âhe said.
To replace the turf at the Sam Nujoma stadium, Kazombiaze said the municipality would need at least N $ 12 million.
This is because the product that was installed in 2005 is no longer on the market, he said.
âThe product on the market, approved by Fifa, has legislative standards relevant to current football situations around the world, and is therefore more expensive than what we bought in 2005.
“These budgets were motivated, but maybe because of the challenges of the local authorities in all aspects, sport was not a priority, but since the 2016/17 budget we have continued to budget the Sam Nujoma stadium for the modernization of artificial turf, “he said. .
Kazombiaze said the Sports Ministry should also develop and modernize the stadiums of other local authorities to ease the burden on the Sam Nujoma stadium.
âWhy do all the games have to be played in Windhoek? Municipalities and local authorities should also motivate the ministry to offer international sports stadiums. The stars are not only born in Windhoek, âhe said.