More than just being quick

20 July 2021 | Opinion

Windhoek • Titus Mwahafa

With the Olympics about to start, our golden girls show us that sports is about much more than just being quick.
Come Friday, all eyes will be on Tokyo, Japan. The Olympic flame will burn brightly and athletes from around the world will be eager to put more than four years of training and dedication to the test. Our Namibian national team will also be represented with our Golden Girls Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi amongst some of the favourites to win medals. They are fast, very fast… but not only do they excel physically, they are mentally tough and very resilient.
This is one of the side-effects of sports. To pursue sports at the level that our Namibian Olympians practise, takes so much more than physical ability. That is only the start. This is where mental resilience comes in, but so does discipline and staying away from temptations and shielding yourself from bad choices.
It is a lot to adhere to and requires many sacrifices, but to be part of the absolute best group of athletes, that’s what it takes. It is not necessary for everyone to be active at that level, only a tiny fraction of us even has the ability to soar this high. However, taking some of the discipline and learnings that these sports stars have embraced, will help focus Namibia’s youth and learners.

At schools level
The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture together with the Ministry of Sports Youth and National Service are working together with GIZ to promote physical education and sports through their Integrated Physical Education and School Sports (IPESS) project.
This project has been created because children participate in sports or activities that helps to guide and nurture children. It is the only way to create champions for our nation. Not necessarily sporting champions, but children who understand the need for teamwork, participating in activities without having to worry if they are the best.
If they are engaged in school sports and activities, it means they are being kept away from bad influences, such as drugs and alcohol. It builds mental resilience by teaching them about winning and losing as well as simply having fun.
With the Olympic Games starting, we will be glued to our TVs as the Namibian team walks into the stadium.
The Games will be very different than usual because of Covid-19, but the fact that they are having the Games shows that it is possible to exercise and do physical activities, even during a pandemic. The hope that the Olympics communicates during these strange times cannot be underestimated.
That is why the IPESS programme is being rolled out throughout Namibia to more than 2 000 schools in all 14 regions. Starting at primary level all the way through to secondary school. Even if some of it may need to be done virtually and through animations, there are ways to keep the next generation of sportswomen and sportsmen focused, active and moving.
It’s not just sports, it’s the interaction with other children and teenagers. Sports, physical exercise and games don’t just burn off surplus energy, they teach youngsters valuable life lessons. These lessons are lessons that both Christine and Beatrice have already learned and with their recent setback, they have demonstrated that they can and have risen above it.
Teaching not just the Namibian youth a valuable lesson about physical and mental resilience, but being role models for the adults as well.
I, for one will be solidly focused on the TV and watching Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi as well as our other excellent athletes excel and live the Olympic ideals and embody the concept of; ‘healthy body, healthy mind.’
Hope the rest of Namibia will join me.
*Titus Mwahafa is Advisor for Sport 4 Development in Africa of the GIZ.

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