AS WE TAKE a breather from 2019, let me take this opportunity to thank The Namibian newspaper for having granted me space to share my thoughts with readers during the course of the year on the challenges and the opportunities that exist for sports in this country.
As the year comes to a close, I would like to leave you with a few thoughts for 2020.
In a meeting held in Europe recently, sports people were represented on a platform that is geared to encourage a healthy lifestyle through sports and its contribution to the UN SDGs [sustainable development goals].
The meeting looked at ways that evidence can be gathered to convince policy makers on the value of sports and recreation.
I'm just saying, if we are to convince treasury to consider increasing the budget allocation for sports in this country, there is a need for adopting a measurement framework that can provide evidence of both the social and the economic value created through sports and active recreation.
Investors need to be assured that we have the capacity and skilled manpower to execute the mandate required.
Without having to repeat what others have said over the years, there is a need to fast-tract the amendment and enactment of the Sports Act and to make sure that the act is in tandem with modern practices.
Only with clear policy guidelines can regulation be developed to help measure the value of sports in this country.
I'm just saying it is time that an earnest discussion on the importance of sports to the economy is put up for debate by our lawmakers.
Namibia is a signatory to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which has at its heart a component on a healthy lifestyle, which the World Health Organisation argues could contribute to the reduction of 'premature mortality from non-communicable diseases' and associated healthcare costs.
I'm just saying there is evidence that participating in sports, including traditional sports games, is associated with improved psychological and social health. So let those traditional games come to the fore during this festive season.
As a country, we need to look at opportunities that are available that could assist in optimising the performance of our athletes, which in return would ensure a strong social return on investment. Everybody around the world has realised that the future of sport lies in 'big data', but we are being left behind because we are not making wise investments in sports.
Our country is also a signatory to the MINEPS [Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport] framework, which calls for, among others; the need for inclusive access to sports, fitness and active recreation opportunities for all; achieving social, economic and environmental impact through the provision of sports, fitness and active recreation opportunities for all; and building the capacity, strengthening the governance and protecting the integrity of sports.
However, it is sad to note that infrastructure development continues to not accommodate sports and allocation of space for sporting and recreational facilities.
This can be blamed on the lack of a clear policy direction, in the national policy.
I'm just saying it is time that the public, private sector and all stakeholders involved in sports, take stock of the past 29 years and draft a clear strategy that will drive sports in this country to the next level.
We can achieve global excellence consistently if our Sports Act is aligned to national policy, and if we build the necessary capacity and put people in positions to execute mandates rather than strive for political or personal gain.
Namibia has a chance to be a force to reckon with come 2030. Let's start now.
I'm just saying,
*Mathew T Haikali is a sports consultant and managing member of Just Imagine Sports. [email protected]