Social development through sport – The Namibian
THIS WEEKEND, ONE of Namibia’s most beloved outdoor recreational family events is taking place.
The Paratus Namibian Cycle Classic, a community service and fundraising event of Rotary Club Windhoek, will again attract participants of all ages, genders and demographics.
Since its launch in 1999, the Cycle Classic has been organized every year. Over the past two years, while respecting health and safety measures, the number of entries has been restricted.
Rotary is a humanitarian service organization that brings together business leaders and professionals. There are seven Rotary clubs in Namibia, and the members are known as Rotarians.
A nonsectarian and nonpolitical organization, Rotary clubs are committed to providing community service, promoting integrity, and advancing goodwill, peace, and understanding in the world.
The Cycle Classic organizers, made up of Rotarians and other volunteers, have worked hard to prepare for the record number of participants expected this year.
As in past years, funds raised at the event will be used to fund community service projects and other causes across the country.
Cycling is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and has been a grassroots Olympic sport and one of five sports contested at every Summer Olympics since 1896.
Namibia’s vast open spaces make cycling an attractive recreational option and mode of transport.
But in terms of equipment costs, cycling is beyond the means of most Namibian families.
There are other sports options than cycling, and we must not lose sight of the general picture, namely that sport is an important tool for social development.
Playing a recreational sport is a great way for children to learn life skills at an early age, where most cognitive and social development takes place.
Playing sports promotes essential social skills and behavioral norms, such as teamwork, cooperation, fairness, tolerance and respect for others – all character traits needed throughout the course of life. .
Sports disciplines have set rules and clearly defined penalties and sanctions for exceeding the mark.
Thus, from an early age, the consequences of foul play, aggression and bad behavior are taught.
Clubs and schools in the affluent suburbs of Windhoek and other towns have good sports facilities.
But the reality is that the same cannot be said for townships and informal settlements in the capital or elsewhere.
Apart from an open space with homemade goal posts, to be frank, there is nothing – a dearth of much-needed recreational facilities.
Without dwelling on the lack of equipment, let us deploy energy, creativity and resources, however scarce, to find ways and means to turn the tide.
Sport is a unifier and contributes to nation building, as it has the potential to accelerate the development of a shared sense of identity.
Sport development and recreational facilities should be at the top of the development agenda.
A good starting point could be public-private partnership programs linked to tax breaks for donors.
Where there are facilities that have deteriorated due to lack of care and maintenance, it is important to convince communities that it is their responsibility to take ownership of a facility.
Nations around the world, as well as the International Olympic Committee, have used sport as a tool for social change for years.
So should we.
* Danny Meyer can be reached at [email protected]