Namibia: Disability Sports Must Be Empowered Countrywide

DISABILITY sports structures need to be strengthened all over the country in order to identify talent needed to keep producing quality champions who can perform with distinction at international competitions.

Despite the poor investment, our athletes with disability rarely disappoint the nation at that level, and continue to fly our flag high.

In 2012, Johanna Benson brought gold and silver from the Paralympic Games in London, Britain. At the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, it was Ananias Shikongo who brought home a gold and two bronze to the Land of the Brave. His 'brother', Johannes Nambala, also won two silvers in Rio.

Earlier this year in the United Arab Emirates, Ruben Gowaseb won the Special Olympics half-marathon gold for the second successive games.

These achievements are a clear indication that our athletes living with disability need to be strengthened and supported.

The secretary general of the Namibia Paralympic Committee, Michael Hamukwaya, must be appreciated for how well he has done with the little resources at his disposal.

He continues to play a leading role to uplift disability sports from grassroots level. Without him, we would maybe not have produced the champions we have today.

Parents need to motivate their children living with disabilities to engage in sports because it can change their lives.

Many prefer to hide their children from public activities like sports, which then makes it difficult to expose their talents.

Sports can help reduce poverty or improve their lifestyles, like our champions who today are able to look after their families.

All sports lovers and commercial entities should double their efforts to back up disability sports' stars, and make sure they are well-prepared for upcoming competitions.

I strongly believe that these athletes are our best chance at making sure our nation's flag is hoisted aloft at next year's Olympic Games.

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