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OPINION| Sports Creates Equality And It Starts At School Level

JACOBINA TANGI UUSHONA

THE month of March is when celebrate International Women’s Day, frankly getting one day in March is not enough in my opinion.

We celebrate women in business, women in technology, women who work at home raising a family, women in politics and women in sports. It is the sporting aspects that I am interested in as I believe and I know it to be true for me; that sports is an enabler, equaliser and can drive you to achieve things you never thought possible.

We look at Serena Williams and marvel at her being the ‘Greatest of All Time’ (GOAT), not just in the female category. She’s arguably the ‘greatest’…full stop. Like so many other women, she inspires me and gives me a sense that I can achieve anything. Just because boys, men and even girls and women might laugh or make comments about my sporty clothes, my ‘unfeminine’ basketball shoes, doesn’t mean I should listen.

I also don’t have to rise above it and ignore them. That time has passed. I call them out on it and ask them why they act like that, the answers and replies that I get are never persuasive enough for me to hang up either my tracksuit or sneakers. They push me to achieve more.

I came to sports at a relatively young age and it was a perfect outlet for all the excess energy I had, having always been a bit like a dynamo, so much energy and nowhere to expend it. Basketball proved to be a great outlet, where I could learn and start to combine skills that I never knew I had. It gave me a sense of belonging, pride and a feeling of power.

After lots of hard work I was able to develop my ‘mad’ skills and become a starting player. This gave me so much confidence, not just as an athlete, I knew I could achieve things off the basketball court as well. It led to taking my academic career more seriously as well. It is true what they say; ‘healthy mind, healthy body.”

This is where we get to the point where I am saddened to not see other girls follow the path of growth through sports. Rather they hang around, saying they hate sports, or getting sweaty, don’t believe they have the skills or use a myriad of other excuses not to engage in sporting activities. There is a change coming, I see the eagerness with which girls participate in running drills, doing exercises and play basketball at Basketball Artists School.

The place that has nurtured and help me grow into the young confident, smart and athletic woman that I am today. However, this is not all, the Ministry of Sports and the Ministry of Youth and National Service are promoting physical education and school sports. They are drafting the Integrated Physical Education and School Sports (IPESS) policy right establishing a national framework on how PE and school sport should be implemented and have joined forces with the German Development Cooperation and even the private sector has got on board as sponsors. Green Enterprise Solutions is a major sponsor of this vital project to provide access to games and sports for all learners, irrespective of their level of ability or talent.

This includes young girls and women as well, no one gets left behind or gets to idly sit on the sideline. This programme will hopefully uplift, engage and motivate other young girls. Creating healthy, smart, sporty and well-educated women.

There will come a time when we celebrate and applaud women every month and every day and not just on 8 March. Until that day is here I will keep advocating for women and girls and promoting sports as the way to enhance their development.

  • Namibia Economist
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