Namibia is still basking in the glow of our athletes that have performed so heroically at the Olympics and at the Paralympic Games. We have truly put Namibia on the sporting map as a force to be reckoned with.

It wasn’t just Mboma and Masilingi, who made us proud, the Paralympians who have recently returned from the Paralympic Games in Tokyo have shown what we as Namibians are capable of.

From Ananias Shikongono, Johannes Nambala and Sem Shimanda to Johanna Benson who has been winning on our behalf for many years, we as a nation are proud of their sporting achievements.

This got me thinking, why do these sporting achievements not resonate in our daily lives. Where are these athletes in the work place, how do they manage their jobs and careers on a day to day basis?

Why do people with disabilities seem like they are not part of the majority daily life or in most workforce?

This question raises many concerns and unless they are addressed we as a nation will never fulfil our promise and capability and certainly never achieve Vision 2030 and the UN SDGs.

We cannot celebrate our para-athletes one day and then the next not allow them to shine in the career they want to pursue, simply because there is no wheelchair access.

Or because there are no facilities for persons with disabilities of any kind, no computer or online access for the visually impaired or the sign language interpreters for the deaf community.

With more than 100,000 Namibians with various types of disabilities it is a very large chunk of the population to ignore.

If we look at the UN SDG’s drivers and the principle of Leave No One Behind (LNOB) we need to create equal opportunities for everyone. The three UN SDG’s that focus on this are: 1: No Poverty, 8: Decent work and economic growth and 10 Reduced inequalities.

We need to address these Goals and make sure that we can create an inclusive society that drives our economy and embraces everyone and their differences to become a part of it.

If we are all pulling in different directions, not approaching achieving the ambitious goals Namibia has set for itself together, we are bound to fail.

Just like the Paralympians use guides in the running races and in other sports, working as a team, so do we need to internalise and live and breathe the concept of working together towards the same goal.

The coaches, staff and the families of the athletes and our sporting heroes all form a team that together created a winning combination. If we apply this mentality, attitude and driving force to perform to achieving the UN SDG’s, our Vision 2030 and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, we will truly be on the road to success.

It is vital that various disability institutions, such as National Disability Council of Namibia, Disability Sport Namibia, National Federation of People with Disabilities in Namibia be funded adequately in order to excel in their goals.

Namibia is full of pride at the moment, the athletes and the public are feeling on top of the world. However, to capture this ‘positive vibe’ and basically bottle our success, we need to face challenges head on.

If we do not allow people to participate and contribute to the economy we are destined to never achieve our goals. If LNOB is not something that Namibians live and breathe we will never aspire and achieve the greatness that our athletes have achieved.

We should be united in our goals, achievements celebrated collectively, our failures brushed off and forgotten together as a nation. Only through persevering can we achieve enduring success and growth as a nation and win as a Team!

Tjiueza Tjombumbi is HoD, National Disability Council of Namibia

tjiuezatjombumbi@gmail.com