This very important program focuses on the underprivileged gymnast. Children who would like to participate in gymnastics, but don’t have the means to pay for the classes, will be identified for this program. “Adoptive parents” are then found who will be responsible only for paying the child’s school and gymnastics fees on an annual basis (in other words, no legal adoption of the child or other responsibilities are incurred). The sponsor is sent regular progress reports on both the child’s school and gymnastics performance. Surplus funds donated for the child are used to pay for the competition leotard and tracksuit, as well as travel expenses to competitions within Namibia’s borders. The program does not yet cater for international travel.
It is important to note that this program does not only focus on the child with great gymnastics potential, but rather aims at giving any underprivileged child a chance to take part in the sport. The children need to have participated in the sport for at least one year at a much reduced fee to the club before they are considered for the program. This gives them a chance to show they are committed to the sport and the sponsor’s money is not wasted on a child who only takes part for one month before stopping again.
Gymnastics in Swakopmund is growing from strength to strength, yet the biggest problem facing the sport here on the coast, is a lack of a permanent and proper gymnastics facility. Over the many years that gymnastics has been offered here, the club(s) have had to change location many times.
The reasons are simple.
The reasons are simple.
¨ Sharing of premises – other sports shared the premises with gymnastics. The hassle of packing out and packing away all the gymnastics equipment outweighed the benefits of using the hall, as it wasted precious training time, already limited by the sharing of the hall. Often classes had to be cancelled due to other sports holding events in the hall.
¨ Excessive rent – in some halls, the rent became excessive and the club(s) were forced to find new premises.
¨ Hall no longer available – the hall was sold and the new owner wanted to use it for other purposes.
¨ Limited space – the space was too small for the number of gymnasts involved. High level training requires many hours, but time must also be allowed for the lower levels which tend to have the most children and therefore also provide the most income to keep the sport alive.
The facilities available are therefore a constant problem for the club(s) here at the coast. It has proven very difficult to find a space which is big enough to comfortably and safely carry out all the classes, and yet is offered at an affordable rent. For example, the current hall is affordable, yet far too small, and the lease will expire in June 2011. This lease is not renewable as the building will be torn down to make way for a new development. Even if this lease could have been extended, the current club has grown so much that the hall is practically popping at the seams. With new children signing up almost every week, the need for a permanent and proper gymnastics facility has become urgent. Along with the need for a hall, another urgent need is an the replacement of old equipment, some of which is almost 30 years old.
Namibia at the moment has no international standard training facilities for gymnastics and we are therefore forced at great cost to go to other countries for high level training. The permanent training facility will be used not only for the local people on the coast, both privileged and underprivileged alike, but also for the national training of the country’s elite gymnasts from time to time.
The Brick-by-Brick hall fund is a DRGF program focusing solely on the building of the facility needed. Donations of money and bricks and/or other building materials are all welcome.
This program was the brainchild of Dongina Risser, and is directly linked to the Brick-by-Brick hall fund. For many years Dongina had the idea that if caring people would donate just a Dollar or Euro to the cause, then pretty soon, there would be enough funding to build a permanent training facility in Namibia. Recently, the Swakopmund Gymnastics Club hosted three visiting gymnasts from the USA, and these girls took it upon themselves to raise awareness for the Dollar-for-Development program upon returning home. The idea is to encourage clubs from all over the USA to try to donate as many dollars from their club as possible. The club who then collected the most dollars would win a prize. The same idea will also be initiated in Europe in the future (ie Euro-for Development).
Along with Dollars or Euros being donated, the DRGF also collects donations of secondhand leotards. These leotards are then sold at very reasonable prices to gymnasts here in Namibia, and proceeds are all paid into the Brick-by-Brick hall fund.
If your club is interested in taking part, please contact us for more details.
This future program, once the main focus of building a hall is more or less taken care of, will offer a financial assistance stream to talented gymnasts of any background. Unlike the Adopt-a-Gymnast program which focuses on the underprivileged child, whether talented or not, the TGFA program will target those children who show enormous potential to go far in representing Namibia on the highest levels. These children may come from underprivileged as well as middle income families. As they tend to travel more often for international competitions, etc, and the costs incurred are not always all subsidized by the government, the DRGF will offer the TGFA program to ensure that no talented child is left behind. Its aim is not to cover all the costs for all the kids, but to help alleviate the strain of the high expenses of international travel. The amounts applied to each child may vary dependent on their needs.