Ex-coach and football enthusiast Woody Jacobs has little hope in the resuscitation of domestic football saying it will soon resort to a mere hobby and something done in the presence of time.
Namibia Premier League (NPL) spokesperson Cassius Moeti however remains optimistic that the league will secure sponsorship soon and the whistle will be blown again.
The long wait for the NPL to kick-start has remained a hanging question for the country and it seems many have lost hope in ever seeing the league kicking off.
The league was struck by a financial dilemma last year following the withdrawal of MTC. Since then, the league administrators have failed to get a full sponsor to enable the league to start.
Since MTC’s withdrawal, the league administrator dished out promises to the nation that the league was to start in September 2016. This promise never saw sunrise. They (NPL administrators) then promised that the league was to start in November and this also never happened. The third promise was that the league will finally start mid-February 2017 but it seems this too was another canard.
Early this month, league chairman Johnny Doeseb was quoted on the national broadcaster saying they have not yet been blessed with the funding to start the league.
“The league can only start as soon as the NPL signs a sponsorship that can afford the budget approved by the AGM for 2017/2018 Financial Year,” said Moetie.
According to Moetie, with currently only N$3 million, the NPL will need a minimum of N$18 million and maximum of N$24 million per annum for not more than 3 years in order to start.
He added that they have been hard at work engaging business people and private companies to come on board but the figure needed “is not small change,” hence the long wait. Of the many who were vocal last year about the elephant on the pitch, Jacobs said he has somewhat lost hope because of the lack of support from government and the politicians.
“We have given up. We have been talking but there is no support. The President’s stance on the matter is even more discouraging. So one can say that the sports administrators failed us, but even the little hope I think they had in government bailing football out no longer exist,” shared Jacobs.
Jacobs is saddened by the fact that the Hage Geingob Cup, which is a one-day tournament is able to get sponsorship close to N$10 million but the President is unable to even plead with companies to fund the league. “Now when the country is in a national crisis, he tells us to look up to ourselves but people sponsor his cup that favours mostly players from abroad. It really is a pity. I think our leaders do not understand what football can do and even the line minister does not seem worried. But these are people we voted into power.” The situation has become dire that he has advised many players to look for jobs of any kind following some who now and then knock on his doors for financial assistance.
“I advise the players to look for any job because we cannot rely on football anymore. Football is going to become a hobby now, something we are going to play part time when we have time.”
He however praised teams who are still paying their players in this difficult time.
Jacobs is calling for a paradigm shift saying it is time sport became part of the manifestos, NDP and the Harambee. He made reference to countries such as Ivory Coast that have teams playing in leagues and their players are able in return to pump millions back into developing sports in their country. “So maybe we should all blame ourselves for failing football.”
Moetie shared the same sentiments saying the sponsorship problem affecting NPL is not an exclusive fault the league office should be accused of. “The NPL clubs form the foundation of the league. The question is, how strong is our football foundation to support the heavy walls representing NPL. I am not sure whether we have a strong foundation. Our clubs need strategic thinkers as leaders and it is long overdue that club owners head-hunt such individuals to administer football at club level. This is now the time,” said Moetie.