Prioritising Sport as a Strategic Objective at Unam

Vincent Shimutwikeni

Sport has long played a significant role in the lives of students and the community alike at the University of Namibia (Unam).

Integrating sport as a strategic objective holds numerous benefits far beyond the traditional boundaries of the playing field.

Unam should elevate sports to a more prominent position and prioritise it in its strategic plan.

After almost every weekend, you’re likely to find news or social media coverage of Unam’s successes. Whether it’s a hockey victory, a hard-fought rugby encounter, or a soccer match.

The Unam Rugby Club men’s squad has won the Namibia Rugby Union Premier League four times since 2016, establishing themselves as a dominant force in the sport.

Desiderius Sethie – a Unam rugby player – represented Namibia at the recent Rugby World Cup in France, as well as at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Unam won the inaugural Namibian women’s rugby league championship in 2023. In 2017, the Unam ladies’ hockey team won the Bank Windhoek Field Hockey Premier League.

On the basketball court, Unam has won the Khomas Basketball Association League and the Independence Cup.

The university’s netball squad collected silverware in the 2023 Super 10 and has won the Khomas netball league at least three times.

Over the years, some of its players have represented Namibia’s national team. Unam’s athletics club proudly sent three athletes to represent Namibia at the Botswana Golden Grand Prix.

Its football club reached the finals of the Bidvest Cup in 2015. In the 2017/2018 season, they secured third position and continue to make significant strides in the Namibia Premier Football League.

These are but a few of Unam’s numerous accomplishments in sport.


Sadly, however, Unam’s reviewed Institutional Strategic Plan 2019-2024 does not speak to the enhancement of sport, nor are there key policies related to sport on a strategic level.

Sport plays a crucial role in the holistic development of students.

The University of Pretoria’s focus on sport and sport development and their world-renowned high-performance centre is a major drawcard for student athletes to study there.

Priorities related to sport in the university’s UP2025 strategy include providing access to qualifying student athletes; supporting student athletes at educational and coaching level to ensure their success; leveraging sport science research; transforming the university into a place with an inclusive and winning culture, a university with a reputation for excellence that has a positive impact on society.

Some may argue that the primary focus of universities should be academic.

However, the integration of sport as a strategic imperative remains crucial.

By adopting a well-balanced approach that incorporates sport into a university’s strategic blueprint, a more dynamic and comprehensive educational environment can be cultivated.

This approach not only improves student recruitment and retention (attracting high-calibre students), but fortifies alumni relations and generates revenue.

Sport fosters a strong sense of belonging and is often a deciding factor for prospective students when considering where to study.

At present, sport at Unam garners significant attention, media and otherwise, elevating the university’s visibility both nationally and internationally.


As Unam formulates its post-2024 institutional strategic plan, it should strive to establish sport and physical activity as a pivotal factor in achieving its goal of elevating the university’s standing within sport at local, national and international levels.

This objective should be realised through excellence in teaching, cutting-edge research, active industry engagement and effective commercialisation efforts.

Unam should actively explore and play a pioneering role in promoting international partnerships with universities focused on sport.
It should also lead to forging research collaboration, nationally and globally, in sport.

Moreover, Unam should assume a role as a thought leader on topics encompassing genetics and human performance, sport engagement, and equity and inclusion in the realm of sport.

Viewing sport as a central strategic objective involves acknowledging its importance in realising broader university goals.
To make this approach effective, it should be formally integrated into Unam’s framework.

All in all, ensuring alignment with various internal functions and departments within the university is crucial.

This involves securing sufficient financial resources to enhance sport programmes, estate services focusing on upgrading Unam facilities to world-class standards and academia, especially in fields such as the sciences, and conducting research to advance knowledge in sport-related areas, among others.

Without making sport a strategic imperative, Unam’s sports programmes may struggle to thrive in the highly competitive and ever-changing industry landscape of sport.

  • Vincent Shimutwikeni is a legal and compliance officer at Unam and a sport enthusiast. This article is written entirely in his personal capacity.

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