By Fikameni Mathias
For now, the emerging Hopsol Youth League will no longer be referred to as a ‘bush league’ after receiving affiliation status to the Khomas Football League in a letter authored to them last month.
The league’s marketing executive Harald Fuelle confirmed with The Patriot yesterday in a telephonic interview that they have received affiliations status pending final registration.
“We received the letter from the Khomas Football League last month in which they grant us affiliation. This means our players are now able to participate in national competitions. As a league, we accept the letter in good faith and are looking forward to finalizing the registration,” said an enthusiastic Fuelle.
According to Fuelle, they will only fully register next year seeing that the Hopsol league is nearing the end for the year. Without sharing exact details, he added that there are a few bottlenecks they need to iron out before the league is registered with the Namibia Football Association (NFA).
“For us, it is not a thing about personalities. It is about the 2500 players we have. It is about them being able to excel. So we are very happy that now our players can also be selected for national participation,” he said.
Launched in January 2017, HopSol Youth Soccer League kicked off the same year with a sponsorship of N$1 million over three years by HopSol Solar Power, a private company in the solar industry.
The league is run by BKK Auas Sports Trust consisting of former Hamburg professional player and Brave Warriors captain and now recently added to the national team technical brains Collin Benjamin; Wieland Klinger, a youth soccer head coach at DTS; and Guido Kandziora, a sport director at DTS.
On and off the pitch wrestles emerged after footballers from the league were denied the opportunity to represent the Khomas region at the then upcoming Skorpion Zinc under-17 Cup due to never-ending football politics that referenced the league’s non-affiliation status. The narrative at the time was that the league started off without the blessing of the NFA, which said its players will be excluded from national age group tournaments. The ban was later extended to regional teams.
At the time, the league was labeled as ‘bush football’ because of its non-affiliation to the Namibia Football League through the Khomas Football League. Subsequent meetings between the NFA and Hopsol league organizers to remedy the situation failed to yield a consensus, leaving the youngsters between a rock and a hard place.
Although the NFA pronounced that there were no regulations prohibiting Hopsol players or any other NFA non-affiliate from participating in activities organized by the governing body, it is clear that the deliberate sidelining of the young players was perhaps a result of a manufactured rule that only the Khomas Football League can explain.
These eventuality fueled suggestions that the alienation of Hopsol was based on personal differences between Hopsol and the decision-makers at the governing institutions.
With registration still pending, sources close to the developments say the money factor has again made rounds, which explains partly Hopsol’s reluctance to immediately register with the regional body.
“We understand that NFA now wants affiliation fee, which is normal. But the money they are asking is too much for a league that runs its own affairs. This thing was always about money and somehow these guys just want to eat the Hopsol sponsorship money,” confided the source.
Allegations of this nature are nothing new to the fracas, with an initial narrative that the delayed affiliation was on the basis that the NFA wanted to sabotage the league, simply because they didn’t like the founders.
“Now they have realized that they cannot run the league, so they will impose heavy affiliation fees. There is nothing wrong with paying affiliation fees, but there must be clear guidelines to justify the high fees they are asking,” added the source.
Since the league’s inception, it has become more evident of the quality of players fielded by Hopsol and their exclusion form the Namibian Newspaper Cup this year and other regional competitions have taken a toll on the region’s performance.
The creation of the Hopsol was aimed to provide a platform for soccer development for u/9 to u/19 age groups.
The league broadens the current scope of organized youth soccer and revives the school’s soccer culture which has been non-existent for some time. It thus comes of great benefit to the current state of soccer development, especially at grassroots level that mirrors the societal disparities within the country.
Analysts have weighed in saying further delays to resolve the Hopsol-NFA saga based on differences between personalities could only do more damage to football in general and grassroots level in particular.