A concerned group of football lovers made up of coaches, ex- and active players, referees, medics, team owners and managers, the media and fans met yesterday evening for an impromptu indaba to open dialogue on the state of football in Namibia at Eldorado Secondary School in the capital. Since MTC decided to withdraw their provision of N$15 million to sponsor the country’s flagship league, Namibia Premier League (NPL), football has been in stagnant mode and thus raising questions on the future of soccer in the country.
Besides the status quo of football in the country, players, coaches, referees and all bodies directly involved in football have asked authorities to come on board to rescue the league, which is their only source of income to support their immediate families. The indaba thus deliberated on sensitising the audience of the current state of football and identifying key problems that might have led local football into the current predicament that it finds itself in. Both first and second division games have not woken up from their long breaks and promised dates of the beginning of the league have long passed. The discourse was steered by ex-Black Africa coach Woody Jacobs, who explained the sentiments behind the gathering that did not meet his expected audience. “I believe it is public knowledge on the status of football in the country. It is thus for that reason that we are seated here today so that we are able to talk and find solutions that we can present to the relevant bodies.”
Business personalities in attendance expressed their disappointment in the state of football saying their businesses are also affected. They said that they can no longer sell soccer attire to teams because there is no soccer. Those who sell kapana or soft drinks at the stadiums can also no longer make business to feed their families. Taking a different angle was Namibia Football Players’ Union (NAFPU) Secretary General Olsen Kahiriri, who said that there are bigger problems besides the availability of the funds to get the NPL to kick-start. “We must start addressing the issues that led us into the current problem.
We need to do this to avoid finding ourselves in the same problem should the league secure funds. To start off, we need to have people with the appropriate knowledge to run football. We should not shy away when we have leaders who are failing us.” Kahiriri’s sentiments opened up even deeper conversations with other stakeholders questioning why the NPL had to wait for last minute before looking for a sponsor. Many questioned the quality and timing of the negotiations to secure sponsorship to have been poor primarily because there is no standing committee within the NPL that deals with the negotiations.
According to the crowd, this work is done by the chairperson of the league himself. The discussion trailed along issues such as the need to sensitise the authorities that the football fraternity is another employment sector that could eradicate poverty and that if no immediate remedy is found, thousands will be forced to go on the streets and turn to crime. The indaba concluded with the selection of a steering committee of seven members that will take up discussed matters with the relevant authorities in hope of rescuing local football. The dialogue also adopted the name ‘Football Stakeholders Forum’ as the identity to deliberations moving forward.