This week in the Khuta – Who cares about oil when we have Benson?
It was rather emotional to see and hear the sights and sounds accompanying the return of the Paralympics team from London this week where a relatively unkown Johanna Benson became an overnight sensation after winning silver and gold medals in the T37100 and T37200 events.
With her achievements, the little girl from the dusty town of Kuisebmond wrote her names in the annals of Namibian sport. By winning silver and gold medals at this year’s games, Benson went one better than the legendary Frankie Fredericks and this put her success in perspective. The fact that government and members of the public have now come to recognise and reward her talent, makes it even more sweeter.
In a country where you have most youths indulging in pre-marital sex and alcohol abuse as if they were competing in some sort of competition, Benson’s fairytale rise to become a national sporting icon has been inspirational. It is proof to the youth – if any was needed – that hard work and excellence in everything that you do, despite your circumstances, literally pays off at the end of the day.
Although government has been criticised in the past for not taking sport seriously – and there is justification to that – the house, the diplomatic passport and money that Benson got from government alone proves that government takes success by our athletes very serious, and it is something that the business community should also emulate.
In a week when the euphoria surrounding the supposed oil discovery in Namibian waters was dealt a fatal blow when Chariot announced that they had abandoned drilling on the Kabeljou well after no commercial hydrocarbons were discovered, Benson’s achievements gave the country something to smile about and forget about the oil disappointment.
By winning the silver and gold medals at the London games, Benson brought honour to our country, and just like Fredericks before her, she has also raised our country’s profile internationally and for that she needed to be rewarded. It will be interesting to see how the local business community will respond to Benson’s achievements in the next few days.
Now that we have seen what our athletes can do, I think it is time that both government and the private sector allocate more money to sport so we can produce more athletes of Benson’s calibre. We should not only wait for the athletes to achieve something before we reward them but let’s rather give them an enabling environment that will allow them to excel in their chosen sporting codes.
Why would a talented athlete waste his future when he knows that talent won’t be rewarded? He would rather concentrate on education because at least his future will be guaranteed. Benson’s achievement and the rewards and recognition that are coming as a result, will hopefully inspire more young talented athletes to take sport serious.
Namibia can be a household name in sport if we start investing more in the athletes instead of the token sponsorships that we have seen over the years.
Come on Team Namibia!