As an avid sports fan and participant in all kinds of sports and games, I am delighted to see the developments in Namibia over the last few years. Sports dominate my life to such an extent that I even chose a career where I am involved with sporting activities and games in one way or another every day.
Over the last few years, we have seen schools embrace physical education in a manner that had been long forgotten. Both educators and the learners are becoming excited about sports, the games and after-school activities.
The reason for this has been the work that the sports ministry and the ministry of education, arts and culture, UNICEF and GIZ “Sport for Development in Africa” (S4DA) have all collectively carried out.
Together, they have developed a more formalised format for sporting activities through sporting manuals. This gives the educators and trainers a handbook for Physical Education (PE) classes at school, or after-school activities.
Giving children, whatever their sporting or physical abilities the chance to run, jump and play is essential. Creating access to physical activity is imperative for a child’s overall development and that is why the stakeholders have joined forces to promote and make physical education an integral part of the school curriculum.
Through sports and play, children learn about teamwork, they are also taught about the dangers of modern life such as drug and alcohol abuse. The S4DA and the Integrated Physical Education and School Sports (IPESS) programme teach these things and emphasize these lessons.
Namibia is now also in the fortunate position that our children have sporting greats to emulate and look up to. Namely, our great Namibian athletes, names of these athletes used to only be known within Namibia, but now sporting commentators across the world speak their names respectfully as Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi smash record upon record in the field of athletics.
This international recognition of our athletes means that our children want to be like them and compete for Namibia in the future. Becoming world-class athletes and sporting greats starts with playing games and formalising the sporting activities from a young age.
This is possible where good trainers, coaches and educators have the knowledge, training and motivation to nurture and grow children’s sporting talent in a safe and nurturing environment.
Essentially, it comes down to safeguarding children in sports. All children have the right to participate, enjoy and develop themselves through sport, in a safe and inclusive environment, free from all forms of abuse, violence, neglect and exploitation.
The educators and trainers are trained in this aspect of sports and physical education as well, and through IPESS and others, this has been rolled out across the 14 regions of Namibia. Through a series of trainings and engagements across Namibia, physical education teachers, facilitators and other guardians have been trained.
This training will continue in the coming years and the ministries involved will keep pushing sports and games as part of the overall school curriculum. I know they will be successful as I will continue to be a passionate trainer myself, just as I have trained many educators over the last few years across the regions.
In the future, we will not only utter the names of Frankie Fredericks, or Mboma and Benson with respect but through games and sports, new world-class athletes will be able to shine. Even if we can’t all be world-class athletes and sporting greats, we can have our children become healthier through sports, games and play.
*Titus Mwahafa is an Advisor: Sport for Development in Africa at GIZ