Namibia: Gymnastics Federation Still At War

THE Namibia Gymnastics Federation is again in turmoil and divided into two factions, says Namibia Sports Commission chief administrator Freddy Mwiya.

He said the media should disregard any communication from the NGF which has not gone through the NSC, including yesterday's press statement by NGF executive president Sonja Olivier cautioning the public and businesses against getting involved with unspecified individuals whom she claims are masquerading as council members.

She said it had come to their attention that these individuals have "selected gymnasts to represent the Namibia Gymnastics Federation and/or Namibia at international club competitions, abroad" with the blessing of the NSC.

Mwiya acknowledged that Olivier remains the executive president, but that given the infighting, a blanket gagging order had been placed on the NGF until the dispute is resolved.

"Whatever she said should not be considered as the position of the NGF. That press statement is null and void," stated Mwiya.

In her statement, Olivier, who was elected in February, implied that the NSC favours the 'pirate' faction over that which she presides.

These officials have gone as far as collecting funds from unwitting parents and representatives of the athletes, she said.

"These selections are rumoured to have been sanctioned by the Namibia Sports Commission. No such teams can be approved if not approved by council," Olivier declared.

"No selection of any gymnasts has yet been approved by council, and parents are cautioned not to assume any selection unless approved by council.

"Gymnasts' parents are strongly cautioned not to effect any payment for travel, accommodation or uniforms towards participation requested by any person who cannot prove written authorisation by council.

"The Namibia Gymnastics Federation will accept no liability for any payments and/or decisions made by parents of gymnasts, based on misrepresentations," Olivier stated.

Conversely, Mwiya said "she is causing havoc", having recently fired seven of her executives, and replaced them with an unrecognised group. To that end, the NSC has alerted the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).

"We wrote to FIG to inform them to ignore her communication.They are aware of the situation on the ground, and will be informed of any changes," Mwiya countered.

The NGF has a meeting with the NSC and the Namibia National Olympic Committee set for 9 November when a remedy is expected to be ironed out.

A lasting solution to the NGF's unending squabbles appeared to have been found on 23 February when a new leadership was elected, following years of administrative unrest.

According to Olivier, the NGF council consists only of Selene Williams (secretary general), Dimitar Nenkov (national technical director), Dr Nicolene Labuschagne (national medical director), Juanita Kusch (aerobics president), Dione Dichtl (men's artistic president), Britt Adonis (rhythmic president), Jana Grunschloss (women's artistic president) and Valereis Geldenhuys-Venter (honorary president - advisory).

But Mwiya said the recognised 15-member NGF Council remains unchanged from that elected at the annual general assembly in February.

Neville Andre is still Olivier's deputy, with Sharifa Wentworth (vice president - finance), Meagan Bierbach (vice president - public relations) and Wieta Snyman (vice president - liaison) completing the top hierarchy.

Also on the NGF council are Djamel Meziane (section president - men's artistic gymnastics), Shariefa Mouton (section president - women's artistic gymnastics), Leonie Botes (section president - rhythmic gymnastics), Vaughan Ahrens (section president - trampoline and tumbling), Marianne Bock (section president - aerobic gymnastics), Selene William (secretary general), Vesselin Kostin (national technical director) and Nicolene Labuschagne (national medical director).

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