THE country’s preparations for the FIFA World Cup 2010 are beginning to irk South Africa’s Local Organising Committee (LOC), which claims to have received little input from Namibia, a country viewed as one of the greatest tourist attractions in the region.
FIFA spokesperson Delia Fischer recently announced that FIFA and Match Hospitality, its official hospitality partner, were trying to work with South Africa’s neighbors to ensure supporters enjoy a “truly African experience.”
“This includes tours to Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana, but not Zimbabwe at this stage because of the economic and cholera crisis in that country,” said Fischer, adding that all 32 World Cup teams would be based in South Africa, “as we are busy ensuring this country has the infrastructure and is safe enough to host teams. However, we will be monitoring the Zimbabwe situation.”
Nonetheless, Namibia is accused of being “very slow” in revealing its position to 2010, despite its obvious value to the FIFA World Cup. The Super Eagles of Nigeria recently cited most of Southern Africa as being “out of touch” and said it would send Assistant coach, Daniel Amokachi to South Africa and Zambia to shop for training facilities in the region, ahead of their make-or-break 2010 qualifier against Mozambique on March 29.
A 2010 technical committee was set up by Cabinet in Namibia almost two years ago, headed by Permanent Secretary of Sports, Dr Peingondjabi Shipoh. Informanté recently learnt that the Committee is yet to have a major meeting to date, and that Shipoh and his team “are still waiting for new instructions from the Cabinet Committee on 2010.”
“I am yet to report to my political boss. When the Cabinet Committee meets, it is there that we will expect new directives,” said Shipoh.
The Cabinet Committee is headed by Sports Minister, Reverend Willem Konjore.
Efforts to reach Minister Konjore proved fruitless before going to print but Deputy Minster Pohamba Shifeta, noted that there had been delays with regard to Namibia’s 2010 position.
“The report is finalised. Cabinet Committee has to meet and make recommendations, which will be passed to the Cabinet where the government will make its final position on 2010, and then revert back to the technical committee. But we are really going slowly,” he said.
N$3.3 million was approved as part of a Consultancy Study on 2010, but it is unclear whether a final report was ever issued. “That figure was not spent all of it. It was calculated by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and National Planning Commission before we took over,” said Shipoh.
Namibia’s failure to market itself at last year’s Football Expo in South Africa, together with the country’s latest air safety record and the current global economic crisis, are contributing to the country’s challenges in preparing for 2010.
“Namibia is not so much optimistic about 2010…it does not look so good. There is not any major practical strategy that we are currently executing to attract sport tourists,” Digu //Naobeb, CEO of the Namibia Tourism Board was quoted as saying.