Heavy rains halt soccer training

26 February 2020 | Local News

Soccer training has grounded to a halt in the Kavango regions after heavy rains consistently soaked sports fields, affecting both amateur and semi-professional teams.

Ewi lyaNooli observed how a number of sports fields in and around Rundu have turned into pools of water due to consistent heavy rainfall.

Although rain is blessing to farmers, soccer players and sports lovers have been left frustrated.

Football teams have been forced to postpone training sessions until the rain subsides and the water is absorbed into the ground or evaporates.

Rundu resident Kauko Shikukumwa expressed his concern about the impact the consistent heavy rains are having on sport development in the Kavango regions, especially on football players.

Shikukumwa described football as a good distraction for youth, who are kept away from alcohol and substance abuse.

He said the flooded pitches are having a negative impact on communities.

“We have a lot of young people who have turned to football to escape bad influences, but now with soccer practice being halted, the chances of peer pressure to join those who take in alcohol and drugs is very high,” he said.

Shikukumwa, who also plays football at the Dr Romanus Kampungu Secondary School sports field, said lately football training is always being postponed.

“The rain has disturbed our training. People come from very far places to train here, but because of the rain, they are reluctant to come,” he said. Shikukumwa also accused local leaders of not being serious about sport development.

He said after 30 years of independence, both Kavango regions are subjected to using one grass pitch stadium at Rundu.

Those entrusted with running sporting activities in the two regions over the years have failed to attract investors to construct grass soccer pitches, he said.

“It cannot be that we only have one sports stadium in the Kavango regions that has a grass pitch. We have the river, which means watering the pitch should not be a problem. How serious are our leaders in terms of sport development for the youth?” he questioned.

He added that the Rundu sports stadium, which has the grass pitch, is also not free for public to use, as one has to pay a fee.

“How do you expect a soccer team from the Kavango regions to go and do well in Windhoek on a grass pitch if they are used to playing on the ground either barefoot or with tekkies? We need to change how we view things in this country,” he said. Shikukumwa said if sport administrators had taken the issue of grass pitches seriously over the years, the Kavango regions would have produced world-class players, as opposed to the few who have made it.

“We expect to one day participate in the Fifa World Cup, yet we are not doing anything at grassroots level,” he said.

He suggested that the sports ministry invest heavily and upgrade existing sandy pitches to grass pitches.

University of Namibia Rundu campus football team coach Alfeus Haiyambo said a town such as Rundu, with many teams, needs at least four or five grass pitch soccer fields.

Haiyambo said he is unable to prepare his team well for football matches and tournaments because of the flooded soccer pitch where he trains his players.

“Our field is a problem at the moment. Players who travel long distances are also not showing up in numbers out of fear of the rain. We really need grass pitches that do not get flooded easily,” Haiyambo said.

He also called on various leaders to advocate for more quality sports fields.

Last November, Ewi lyaNooli reported on the sports ministry's plans to construct a multipurpose youth centre at Nkurenkuru in the Kavango West Region, at a cost of about N$29 million.

Kenya Kambowe

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