2011 was once again an eventful sporting year full of drama, achievements and incidents, on and off the field, that put Namibian sport in the spotlight. Some achievements brought honour to the country, but there were also others that put Namibia in a bad light.
Here we take a look at some of the events that made the headlines, in the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of 2011.
The Welwitschias captain had a great year, helping his club Saracens win the English Premiership for the first time, while he was also their player of the year. He was the star of the Namibian team at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and was selected by several scribes as one of the players of the tournament. In November Burger won the Sportsman of the Year award at the Namibia Sport Awards.
Namibia’s paralympic athletes put in some excellent performances at international events throughout the year. In January Ananias Shikongo and Reginald Benade won medals at the IPC World Championships and in September Shikongo became the first Namibian athlete since 1991 to win a gold medal at the All Africa Games. Besides them, Johanna Benson and Martin Aloysius have also qualified for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. But besides their achievements on the track, they have also made a major contribution to Disabled Sport in general, raising their profile and bringing them into mainstream sports.
National Cricket teams
The U19 cricket national team qualified for the U19 ICC World Cup which will take place in Queensland Australia in August 2012, when they beat Kenya in their last match at the World Cup qualifiers in Ireland in August.
The senior national team were invited back to the ICC Intercontinental Cup after they won the ICC Shield competition.
They also went through to the final T20 World Cup qualifiers after coming second at the African qualifiers, with LP van der Westhuizen breaking numerous individual batting records on the way.
The triathlete had a successful year after he won the U23 category at the African Championships in Mozambique in August. A month later he went one better, winning a silver medal in the senior category at the All Africa Games. He has also made his mark on the international triathlon circuit and at the tender age of 19 he is still bound to improve, so keep an eye out for him in future.
After a disappointing World Championships where she finished 29th overall, Tjipe Herunga was back to her best at the All Africa Games in Maputo where she won two bronze medals in the 200m and 400m. She set new Namibian records in both events and also qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games in the 400m.
Helalia Johannes won the Two Oceans Half Marathon for the fourth time in the last six years in a new record time in April. In August she won a bronze medal at the World Military Games in Rio de Janeiro and in September she once again won bronze at the All Africa Games. In October she won the Dublin Marathon in a new Namibian record time and in November she was crowned Namibia’s Sportswoman of the Year. Watch out for her at the 2012 Olympic Games.
The Namibian Welwitschias had a disastrous campaign in the South African Vodacom Cup rugby competition as they lost seven and drew one match to finish bottom of the log.
In June they went to defend the IRB Nations Cup in Romania but here they only managed one win against Portugal, while losing to Georgia and Romania.
At the Rugby World Cup in September, Namibia put up a brave fight but still lost all their matches by sizeable margins to finish with the worst points deficit at the tournament. They lost 49-25 to Fiji, 49-12 to Samoa, 87-0 to South Africa and 81-7 to Wales.
The boxers that represented Namibia at the All Africa Games in Mozambique proved to be a huge disappointment after they failed to win a medal at the continental showpiece.
All five boxers bowed out of the competition before they reached the semifinals where they would have been assured of at least a bronze medal. It was the first time in 12 years that Namibia failed to win a boxing medal at the continental showpiece.
The boxers had an eventful run up to the tournament when they complained about the appalling conditions they were camping under and this resulted in two of them being removed from the team before the tournament even started.
Namibia hosted the U20 Cosana Netball Championships at the Wanderers Sports Club in May. Despite being the hosts, Namibia failed to win a match and ended last with Malawi winning the tournament.
Namibia struggled in the 2010/11 CSA competition, finishing 10th out of 14 teams in the limited overs version of the game and last in the three-day competition.
The Brave Warriors crashed out of the 2012 Afcon qualifiers after suffering two heavy defeats against Burkina Faso (4-0 away and 4-1) at home. Their FIFA world ranking dropped down to 140 although it improved towards the end of the year after victories against Gambia and Djibouti and a draw against Lesotho.
NFA overage fiasco
The whole debacle of the Namibian team that won a youth tournament in Germany being overage certainly left a bad taste in the mouths of many football lovers in the nation. The one thing that shocked many was the reaction of Barry Rukoro when confronted with evidence. He said it was not his job to investigate players’ ages. Hopefully in the New Year the NFA will be more vigilant in the blatant cheating in the junior ranks of the game.
MTC vs FNB
MTC and FNB started off the season warring on who has the right to have their logo on the front of the NPL teams’ jerseys. Both companies withdrew sponsorship to the teams that did not wear their logos. At the end of the day, three teams decided to go with FNB while the rest stuck to MTC.
Rugby Exco resigns
After a dismal showing at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, where Namibia lost all of its matches, the entire Namibia Rugby Union executive committee resigned shortly before a planned annual general meeting in November. They could not produce the audited financial reports after it emerged that they could not pay the auditors. Soon after the announcement, MTC, the biggest sponsor of Namibian rugby withdrew their sponsorship.
NFA vs CAF
The NFA vowed to fight tooth and nail to make sure that they are allowed to participate at the 2012 Afcon tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon after the Confederation of African Football twice dismissed their appeal over the eligibility of Cameroonian born Herve Zengue to play for Burkina Faso.
The NFA has now filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport which is bound to cost more than N$380 000.
Basketball was dragged into controversy when former Namibian Basketball Federation secretary general, Penda Hangala attempted a coup to remove the current NBF executive in an extra-ordinary congress. However the Namibian Sports Commission said that they did not recognise the new committee as it had been illegally elected and therefore Keri Tjitendero and his executive remained.