Namibia's fistball fraternity anticipates an eventful year starting with the season-opening tournament this Saturday.
The two major events on the fistball calendar are the N$500 000 raffle fundraiser and the participation of the Namibian national team at the World Championship for men in Austria from August 7 to 14.Namibia, who will be one of 12 teams participating at the global event, have already named a provisional squad that was assembled last year and the selection process is about to start in all earnest in the coming months.
Special training sessions and training camps are scheduled from mid-March, with the final squad being announced in early May.
According to national team coordinator Christoph Kubirske a lot of hard work awaits the national team hopefuls. "We will need to rebuild the team since a number of seasoned internationals have retired since the last World Cup in 2007," Kubirske said.
This weekend's tournament will present the selected players with a chance to impress caretaker coach Stefan Groegli where clubs from Windhoek and Swakopmund will determine the tournament champions in the two categories.
The games start at 08h30 and will be played at the SFC Sport Club in Swakopmund.
According Michael Baas, president of the Fistball Association of Namibia, the half-a-million raffle represents the single biggest fundraising initiative undertaken by the association thus far.
The final draw for the raffle is scheduled for the end of March.
"The profit from the raffle will put us on a sound financial footing, enabling us to concentrate more effectively on the development of the game," said Baas.
Significant headway has been made in the sport code since 2009, when the U/18 Youth World Championship was hosted in Namibia. Notably an U/14 league has been established to nurture young talent, whilst the U/18 national side finished in a credible fifth place at the World Championships in Spain last year.
"We want to build on that," Baas added. " and that is why the funds generated will benefit youth development and the national teams."