Bridging the Gap winners announced

Irvine Ndjavera of the ministry of sport (centre) and Willy Mertens of Debmarine Namibia (fifth from right) hand over equipment to some of the school winners of the Bridging the Gap initative. Photo: Helge Schütz

Debmarine Namibia on Tuesday handed over sport equipment amounting to close to N$1 million to various schools that participated in the Bridging the Gap sports tournament last year. 

Debmarine Namibia launched the Bridging the Gap programme in 2019 with the aim of developing sport at schools, initially just focussing on football and netball but later also adding athletics.

The first tournament was held at Ongwediva in 2019 where 463 schools and 6 560 pupils from all 14 of Namibia’s regions participated.

After the interruption of Covid in 2020 and 2021, the programme continued in 2022 at Swakopmund, and last year in Windhoek, when 300 schools and 770 pupils from all 14 regions participated.

The CEO of Debmarine Namibia, Willy Mertens, said sport instills discipline, respect, friendship, leadership, resilience, teamwork and the ability to overcome adversity – qualities that are essential for pupils’ growth and development.

“This youth sport initiative provides a platform for young individuals to connect, exchange ideas, build relationships and explore different regions – a perfect embodiment of our commitment to Making Life Brilliant,” he said. 

“Another important aspect for this youth competition is a strategy by Debmarine Namibia as a school outreach opportunity to promote awareness on career opportunities in marine diamond recovery focussing on Grade 8 to 12 pupils,” he added.

The overall winners of the 2023 tournament were the Kunene region in football, with //Kharas as the runners-up; Khomas in athletics, with Otjozondjupa as the runners-up; and Khomas in netball, with Omaheke as the runners-up. 

Each school represented in the winning regions received sport kits and equipment worth N$10 000, while all players and officials received footwear of N$1 500 each. 

Each school represented in the runner-up teams received sports equipment to the value of N$5 000, while all players received N$750 worth of footwear.

The total prize money for schools amounted to N$720 000 and the prize money for pupils amounted to N$190 000, for an overall total of N$910 000.

“I firmly believe in the power of sport as an agent for social change. As the private sector, we have a responsibility to assist the government in socio-economic development, which not only provides career opportunities, but also helps to alleviate youth unemployment,” Mertens said. 

“Sport is one area that we have supported over the past years. With clear goals and renewed effort we can harness the potential of sport to improve the lives of our youth,” he added.

Mertens said they will negotiate with their partners at the Namibia School Sport Union on the way forward for the programme.

“This initiative, initially planned for three years, has proven its worth. We look forward to returning to the engagement table with our partners to review this initiative to map the way forward. We entrust the leadership and facilitation of this sponsorship to our capable partners, the Namibia School Sport Union and its affiliates,” he said.

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