Namibia created history by winning all the titles at the South African Under 13 Badminton Championships in Cape Town last week.
It was the first time ever that a team had won all the team and individual titles on offer at the South African Championships and further underlined the growing force that Namibian badminton has become on the African continent.
The president of the Namibian Badminton Federation Jurgen Leicher said he was astounded by the team’s success.
“We had high expectations of the team but never thought that they would win all the titles on offer. Our results are the best in the history of Namibian badminton and this Under 13 team of ours became the first badminton team to take every title possible in a South African interprovincial. We are extremely proud of the kids,” he said.
Competing against the top provinces in South Africa, Namibia won both the A and B sections in the team competitions.
In the individual competitions, Herschelle Witbooi and Johanita Scholtz dominated the female and male categories and won the overall sportsman and sports woman of the tournament titles.
The 10-year-old Witbooi won the boys singles title after beating another Namibian, Peace Shimweno in the final. Witbooi and Johan Koortzen won the boys doubles title after beating Namibia’s Peace Shimweno and Ndapanda Ndudzu in the final, while Witbooi and Scholtz won the mixed doubles title.
The 12-year-old Scholtz won the girls singles title, the girls doubles title with compatriot Sonique Spanenberg and the mixed doubles title with Witbooi.
At the end of the tournament, Witbooi and Scholtz were the top ranked boys and girls players, while Spangenberg was ranked third amongst the girls.
Namibia also competed in the Under 11 competition which just took place on an individual basis. Here, Tiaan Joubert was ranked second amongst the boys and Dehan van der Merwe fifth, while Surika Snyman was ranked second amongst the girls and Joale van Dyk fifth.
Successful development programme
Leicher said the team’s success was due to the hard work that national coach Lynn du Preez had put in over the past few years.
“These young players have been part of our development programme for the past three years. National coach Lynn du Preez has worked very hard with them and it shows that the future of badminton in Namibia is very bright,” he added.
Namibia’s latest achievement followed on their earlier success at the South African Under 15 Championships in Johannesburg in April, where Scholtz once again dominated the female category.
She won all three events that she entered and was selected as the top female player of the tournament. Another Namibian player, Tonderai Ndudzo was the runner up in the boys singles final, while Ndudzo and Witbooi reached the semifinals of the boys doubles competition.
Namibia will now compete in the African Under 15 Badminton Championships in Cameroon from August 25 to September 2, and Leicher is confident that they will do well.
“Nita has a great chance to win all three titles again and I think that Tonderai can also do well. Their top competition will come from South Africa, Ghana and Mauritius,” he said.
Leicher said that South African badminton officials were not too happy about Namibia’s recent successes.
“South Africa used to dominate badminton in Africa, but now they are getting a hiding from us and they are not too happy about it. The president of their badminton federation has asked me if we don’t want to enroll some of our children at their badminton school in Pretoria, but such a decision will have to be made by their parents,” he said.