Venue dispute threatens U21 Waterski World ChampsBy: HELGE SCHUTZ
THE Namibia Waterski Federation (NWSF) was recently awarded the right to host the 2013 Under 21 Waterski and Wakeboarding World Championships in September next year, but the event could be in jeopardy if a long standing dispute is not settled soon.
At question is the issue of ownership of the Namibian Wa- terski Club since Tungeni Africa Investments, a Namibian-owned Black Economic Empowerment company signed a public-private partnership agreement with Na- mibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) in July 2008, to manage the Von Bach Dam.
According to the president of the NWSF Martin Schmidt, they had been leasing the property from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism for the past 20 years, but Tungeni now claimed ownership of the property which they dispute.
“Tungeni claim it’s their land; they made a deal with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to take over MET’s tourist facilities. And then all of a sudden they claimed that our club formed part of the tourism facilities which we dispute, because we have been leasing this land from the Ministry of Works for the past 20 years,” he said.
The situation came to an embar- rassing head during the Namibian National Waterski Championships in April last year when MET mem- bers ordered some South African guests to leave. This incident once again repeated itself at this year’s Namibian National Champion- ships in April.
Schmidt said they are discuss- ing the issue with the Ministry of Youth,NationalService,Sportand Culture and that he was confident that the situation could be salvaged. However, he said that if they did not receive a guarantee from the gov- ernment by the end of November, he would have to cancel Namibia’s hosting of the event.
“I’m feeling pretty positive and I believe that the Ministry ofYouth and Sport will support us but I’ll need an answer soon. If there are no securities in place by the end of November I will have to cancel the event because I don’t want the same thing to happen as in the past,” he said. Schmidt said it was a great honour to host the U21 World Championships and that it would be a major boost for Namibian waterskiing.
“We are expecting about 100 of the world’s top waterskiers from Europe, the United States, Russia and Australia, amongst others. The top skiers are all professional, so the competition will be extremely tough,” he said.
Meanwhile Schmidt said they were proud that Natascha Rot- tcher had won the Junior Sports- woman of the Year award at the MTC NSC Sport Awards on Friday night.
“I was so proud, it was really a super evening. Natascha has put in a lot of effort and she fully deserves it,” he said.