Sport Comment – Bridging the talent harvesting gap

Sport Comment – Bridging the talent harvesting gap

I’ve observed and recognised the importance of providing a platform for the development and identification of young talent in sports.

It is with great concern that I have to address the absence of a national youth tournament catering specifically to the under-17 category, for both boys and girls in various sport codes, moreover in relation to football and netball – which are arguably the codes with most participation in our country.

As the mother bodies of both football and netball in Namibia, the Namibia Football Association (NFA) and Netball Namibia (NN) have an important role to play in ensuring the presence of under-17 youth tournaments.

The under-17 age group is a crucial stage in a young player’s development, where they are starting to hone their skills and showcase their potential. Without a dedicated national tournament for this age group, we are missing out on the opportunity to provide a key stepping stone for these young players to progress to higher levels of competition.

We believe that a national youth tournament is essential in promoting and nurturing talent at a grassroots level. It not only provides a platform for young players to showcase their abilities, but also serves as a scouting ground for future stars who may represent our country at international level.

In light of this concern, I would like to offer some solutions to address the absence of the under-17 national youth tournament:

Collaboration and communication between the two national associations to encourage the two national associations to work together in organising a joint national youth tournament. This would not only reduce the burden of hosting and organising such an event on one association, but also provide a diverse and competitive platform for young players.

Utilising existing regional tournaments, if any. Hopefully some regions already have established youth tournaments. We suggest that these tournaments be recognised and promoted as a potential platform for scouting and identifying talent at a national level.

Partnership with schools: The NFA and NN can partner with schools to promote the development of under-17 tournaments. This can include organising school-based competitions, providing coaching and refereeing courses for teachers and creating opportunities for school teams to participate in regional and national tournaments.

Sponsorship and funding. The lack of funding and resources may be a hindrance in organising a national youth tournament. We urge sponsors and stakeholders to support and invest in such initiatives, as it plays a crucial role in the development of our youth and the future of sports in our country.

In conclusion, we strongly believe that a national youth tournament for the under-17 age group, catered for both boys and girls, is a vital component in the development of sports in our country.

We call upon all relevant parties to collaborate and work towards providing a platform for our young players to showcase their potential and pave the way for future stars.

I am very confident that the NFA and NN can take a proactive approach towards ensuring the presence of under-17 youth tournaments, implementing development programmes, investing in infrastructure, raising awareness and providing support.

By prioritising youth and grassroots development, the NFA and NN can contribute to the overall growth and success of sports in Namibia.

*Joseph Fredericks is a football lover, coach and former first vice president of the Namibia Football Association.

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