New dawn for marginalised Kunene athletes

03 May 2017 15:30pm
By Uerikoha Tjijombo
WINDHOEK, 03 MAY (NAMPA) – Life expectations have changed for five young men who represented the marginalised communities of Kunene during the Athletics Namibia (AN) National Track and Field Championships in Windhoek recently.
Besides it being the first time for the young men to take part in formal athletics, it was also their first time to see the country's capital.
Paseuatjo Mbendura, Kuariouje Herunga, Mahindi Tjipuike, Isaak Ndiaombe and Turitjimue Zatjinda are from the Ovatwe, Ovahimba and Ovatjimba communities in the Kunene Region.
In a telephonic interview with Nampa, Ndiaombe, who came fifth in the 5 000 metres, said he has realised that he has a brighter future than just running after cattle.
“I now realised that I can make a living through running,” Ndiaombe said excitedly.
Mbendura said it was important to take part and get familiar with the recipe of formal running and steal techniques from those who are in the industry already.
Zatjinda, who sounded very optimistic about his career as an athlete, said he is looking forward to the next engagement with the group’s coach in Opuwo.
“I want to do my region proud as I now feel that I am human enough to compete against national athletes who are well trained, compared to me who only trained for a fortnight,” he said confidently.
Kaura Kaura, a former athlete, said he and some of his acquaintances spotted the potential of the five young men who have never run formally before.
“The guys are ordinary cattle herders from the marginalised communities who have never had a chance to take part in athletics,” Kaura told this agency recently.
He said they decided to follow the call of President Hage Geingob that “no one should feel left out” and thought of identifying potential athletes from marginalised communities in Namibia and expose their untapped talent.
“We are happy with their performance throughout the entire event, considering that they never had an opportunity to be trained properly to reach the best they can ever be,” Kaura remarked.
He said the aim of the athletes now is to become the best and make a living out of their hidden potential.
The athletes’ head coach, Mao Tjiroze told this reporter that it was not an easy thing to explain the dynamics of athletics to the young Kunene five.
“We just never had enough time to train these athletes,” Tjiroze said.
He was, however, happy with the performance because the aim was not to win, but to introduce the runners to the system of formal running.
On what lies next for the talented men, Tjiroze said training camps will be arranged to sensitise them on what is needed for them to perform better next year.
Meetings will be held with the relevant ministries and organisations such as AN to see how potential athletes from marginalised communities could be involved at national level.
A talent scouting exercise will be conducted in Tsumkwe sometime in June, while another for Otjozondjupa is still to be determined, Kaura told Nampa.