Namibia Football Players Union (NAFPU)Secretary General Olsen Kahiriri said it is time footballers be fairly represented and paid accordingly as it is done in other countries.
The retired politician has long blown the horn on what he terms as ‘precarious working conditions’ that footballers endure with their right of association ignored. He has been on and off with football administrators on legalities ignored when it comes to players rights and pathetic salaries.
NAFPU in partnership with Wits University had their three day workshop that sees to grease the jaws that turn between employers, employees and trade unions without discrimination. Kahiriri said often employees including football players are discriminated because of their association.
“Everyone who works anywhere should be represented. However, when civil society movements come up, people always want to label you. When you affiliate yourself to a certain trade union that is not in the books of the ruling party, you are classified as anti-government. All we want is our players’ voices to be heard and their rights protected.”
He said following a call from FIFA, NAFPU’s relationship with the Namibia Football Association (NFA) has reached a matured stage were both parties are now able to dine on the same table on conversations in the interest of the players. NAFPU has demanded the NFA to set up a dispute resolution chamber that will see to it that all players are protected.
The bone of contention that still exists is the low salaries paid to players who have no other means of income except the peanuts they get when representing the country. Kahiriri also said that when it comes to playing in the country, there seems to be unequal treatment between players who play locally versus those that play abroad.
“When it comes to Namibian players, there is a difference between the player who plays in Thailand compared to the one who plays in Windhoek. Yet when the two represent the country on the same field, their salaries are not paid at the same time. The one that is foreign is given the privilege to get more benefits than the local one. They are paid upfront and they are better taken care of. That is discrimination and we want all the players to be paid the same. Because the most important thing we see in a player is the talent.”
While this issue has been trailing long according to Kahiriri, the secretary general says it is also time we start paying the players reasonable salaries. He says this will attract the best players to the team.
“We must understand that football is a short career therefore after football, the player must have a proper living standard. But how are their lives going to change when they are earning N$5000. These guys attract the whole country and they earn N$5000, the same money taxi drivers make in two weeks. Is that what we call professionalism in sports?”
“When you start paying the national player an amount such as N$15 000, the competition is high to get in the national team and we will attract the best players to be able to sacrifice their skills for the country.
If we reward these boys with serious money, then they will take things very seriously,” said Kahiriri.
NAFPU will look forward to engage football stakeholders and other trade unions to see how parties can work hand in hand for the interest of all employees.