NSSU netball selection under fire

Action from the Capricorn Schools Netball League. File photo

The Namibia School Sport Union (NSSU) has come under fire from a group of concerned parents calling on the minister of sport, youth and national service, Agnes Tjongarero, to launch a thorough investigation into schools netball.
Alta van Zyl, the sport coordinator of Windhoek Gymnasium, on Monday sent an email addressed to Tjongarero, as well as the chairperson of the Namibia Sports Commission, Cilas Wilders, the secretary general of the Namibia Olympic Committee, Joan Smit, and the technical adviser of Netball Namibia, Pully Mogami, in which they query the selection process for national under-17 and under-18 teams participating in the Telkom Netball Challenge in South Africa next month.
Van Zyl says a list of 37 players was selected, but after numerous complaints it was enlarged to 65 players.
She, however, maintains that the selection process was flawed and haphazard, and is now asking what criteria was used to select the players, who the selectors were, and when and where selection took place.
“We have contacted the NSSU, but have received no feedback. It is our impression that these players were randomly selected by the national committee, and names were added by the regional convenors on their request.
“In addition many of them are from schools where national committee members are involved. On the other hand, Khomas was requested to only add three under-17 and three under-18 players, and Khomas adhered to that request,” Van Zyl says.
“It is of great concern that some of the best players in the country, who are in the national under-19 squad, were not invited. Surely they should also be considered for the list, as these players played in the Namibian Newspaper Cup and were scouted during the event.
“Unfortunately, before the list was released, there was only one school tournament in Namibia where players could have been scouted and that was the Super League Tournament of 18 May, where only 20 schools participated.
“Is that how we are selecting national teams, or are players supposed to be chosen on merit?” she asks.
Van Zyl says schools netball in Namibia is in disarray.
“Our schools netball has been in disarray since January 2023. Since then national trials have been cancelled, as well as the regional play-offs. Our girls were left in the cold, while rugby and hockey continued with their national selection and international participation.
“Our appeals and complaints are clearly falling on deaf ears. A few of the national committee members quit due to these practices which go against their beliefs of what is right and fair, and the new committee is totally out of its depth to get us back on track,” she says.
Requesting a “thorough investigation into schools” netball as the main sport for girls in Namibia, Van Zyl is asking for a clear audit regarding the NSSU’s distribution of finances among the different sport codes, adding that the NSSU was not developing the sport at grassroots level.
“Netball Namibia has restructured and is using pathways to ensure that the national team’s feeding sources are ready and well managed, but the NSSU, which is responsible for grassroots development, is not playing its part. What steps are being put in place by the NSSU to change this?” she asks.
A source, who preferred to remain anonymous, says before 2023 regional trials took place annually, with the top two schools invited to national play-offs in Windhoek, from which national age group teams were selected.
This has, however, ceased, with no organised schools leagues or trials taking place in the regions any more.
Currently there are only two schools leagues in the country – the Capricorn Super League in which 25 schools usually compete, and the Khomas League, with more than 100 teams participating.
Van Zyl also asks why the parents of Craven Week rugby players are allowed to contribute N$7 500 to their tour expenses, but netball teams are not allowed to tour if the NSSU cannot cover all expenses.
Ministry spokesperson Jessica Jossob yesterday said the ministry could not comment on the matter.
“The said letter has not even reached us,” she said.

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