Namibia: Sport Comment - Exercise Is Not Just About Exercise


THE year 2021 seems to be continuing very much in the same vein as 2020.

Restrictions are in place and Covid-19 is still looming large for Namibia and the rest of the world.

There is, however, a ray of light in the form of schools having reopened.

Children are back where they are supposed to be with their friends, peers and teachers - laughing, running, jumping, learning and trying to hold onto some normality, which has been missing for so long.

The academic aspect is essential for children, but remote learning took care of that.

What has been missing is games, playing, interaction, sport and teamwork.

This is an essential part of a child's education and making sure they become well-adjusted adults.

It's not just sport, it's the interaction with other children and teenagers.

Sport, physical exercise and games don't just burn off surplus energy, they teach youngsters valuable life lessons - lessons they cannot learn in a classroom.

This is why it has become essential to get them running, playing and moving, all while socially distancing and adhering to Covid-19 regulations, of course.

The ministries have realised the importance of physical education and school sport, and have joined forces with the German Development Cooperation to ensure that physical education and sport become an integral part of pupils' overall education again.

We only have to look at ourselves and look back at the sport we played, or the games we engaged in friends and peers . . .

We learned about sharing, teamwork, victory, as well as failure.

In fact all the things we value in adults when interacting that are not purely academic are learned through games and sport, and by engaging with each other - something that has to mostly be done in person and is difficult to teach, nurture and develop through Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

A football game cannot be won by one player alone, even if you are the star striker, you need your teammates to assist in scoring goals.

When you win, you celebrate together, and when you lose, you commiserate together and see how you can do better next time.

Processing wins and losses, and motivating yourself and your teammates are essential to growing up - whether it is in a formalised sport setting or just informally playing games.

Through the Sport for Development in Africa regional project in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture and the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, the Integrated Physical Education and School Sports (Ipess) programme was created to emphasise the importance of games and sport for all pupils - irrespective of their abilities or talent.

That is why the Ipess programme is being rolled out at more than 2 000 schools in all 14 regions, starting at primary level all the way through to secondary level.

This long-term project will see a new generation of children participate, learn and grow through physical education in one form or another.

Their teachers will be given the necessary training and manuals, and will become champions of physical exercise to motivate and develop pupils.

The all-round development of pupils will give them qualities they need to succeed as adults - not even mentioning to keep them away from certain illicit temptations and bad habits that can wreak havoc on their futures.

Together we can make the kids embrace physical education and school sport, and make them learn, go and grow!

*Titus Mwahafa is the Regional Programmes Africa adviser for sport development at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

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