The Kutwano Sport Association for the Disabled recently held a fourth Zambezi regional athletics championship at the Katima Mulilo Sports Complex.
Five constituencies - Katima Urban, Sibinda, Linyanti, Kabbe North and Katima Rural - with around 50 athletes and 10 officials took part in the track and field events on 6 and 7 March, which saw action in the javelin, shotput, 100m and 200m disciplines.
Kutwano chairperson Manga Christina Mataa says the competition has grown steadily over the years as more athletes join the fray with each passing every edition. Through this championship, Zambezi hopes to increase its representation in the national set-up.
Presently, the region has two athletes in Namibia's athletics team for the upcoming South African Sports Association for Physically Disabled national championships set for Bloemfontein from 25 March to 4 April.
"We have so many young and old athletes coming out and wanting to be part of the selection of the regional team. The event serves the only opportunity in the Zambezi region for people with disability to part take in a sporting event for fun, and as a way of rehabilitation in general," said Mataa.
The Namibia Paralympic Committee offered technical support and classification of the athletes through its secretary general Michael Hamukwaya.
He said it is always encouraging to see regions take the initiative, especially during testing financial times where sport funding from government has been drastically cut.
"The association is doing its mandate by hosting this championship, and giving every athlete in the region an opportunity to be up for selection and everybody enjoying sport. This is the only championship for people with disability in this region, and it is good to see that it has become an annual event," Hamukwaya said.
Mataa hailed local business personality Bangee Kamunu "for always supporting these athletes from the constituency with free accommodation and meals at his establishment at Katima Mulilo".
While this "generous support" is appreciated, the region still faces many challenges, like a lack of regional council support for transport to sport facilities for competitions, while there is also a limited understanding by many residents of sport for people with disabilities.
There was "no family support for these athletes at the stadium during competitions, and not much awareness is done in this part of the country regarding the policy on disability.
Another major challenge is that there are very few qualified coaches specialising in disability sports countrywide, and also a lack of volunteers willing to help develop the sport. This is largely due to the fact that funding for development and recruitment in this sector is very poor.