By Staff Reporter
The Windhoek Champions League may have been an initiative to keep players in the capital city busy, but the way it has captured people’s imagination indicates that it is destined to become bigger and better in the future with plans of making it a permanent feature on the local football calendar.
The Windhoek Champions League was initiated by the executive committee of the Khomas Football Region following the dormancy of the Khomas regional (second division) league. The main idea was to keep players busy and active and keep them off the streets and away from social vices such as alcohol and drug abuse or promiscuity.
The Khomas Football Region requested permission from the Namibia Football Association’s Normalisation Committee to establish the Windhoek Champions League as an interim arrangement to keep the players fit and busy while authorities were sorting out the statutory issues that would lead to regional conferences as well as the NFA Congress where a new football leadership would be elected. The Normalisation Committee responded positively by granting permission on condition that the Khomas Football Region would be responsible for the supervision of the Windhoek Champions League as well as to ensure that the games are played under the rules and regulations of the Khomas Football Region and that of the NFA.
In addition, the Khomas Football Region would also be responsible for stadium bookings as well as referees plus the handling of disciplinary issues arising from the tournament, guided by the NFA statutes.
With that permission in writing, the Khomas Football Region was quick out of the blocks and attracted a total of 22 Windhoek-based teams to form part of the innovative idea.
Four of the 22 teams – Khomas Nampol, Windhoek United, Ramblers and Eleven Champions – are southern stream first division teams, while the rest are from the Khomas Second Division.
The Windhoek Champions League is fashioned along the same lines as the African or UEFA Champions League with four groups of six teams each. The teams play two legs of round robin matches and the two teams from each group advance to the knock-out phase. The teams finishing third and bottom qualify for the Plate Category to keep the players busy. Windhoek Champions League chairperson, Lazarus Xoagub has expressed excitement about the League which he said surpassed his wildest imagination. He said what was just a small initiative to keep players busy has attracted widespread attention from other regions who want to replicate it for their own teams.
Initially he said, the Windhoek Champions League is aimed at discovering new combinations and talents for teams and for coaches to try new tactics. In general, teams from lower leagues are highly motivated by this idea and they are highly energized every weekend. “Most of the officials use these games to keep their players fit while there are many supporters who come to watch the matches,” Xoagub said.
He added that some premier league teams have also expressed interest to join the Windhoek Champions League as part of their pre-season preparations in future.
According to Xoagub, the initiative has also created generating opportunities for small traders and some unemployed youths who sell softdrinks and food during matches over weekends.
With regards to the progress of the games, he said the league has now concluded its first leg of matches and the window has been opened for teams to release or sign new players. The second leg will already commence tomorrow (Saturday) with matches taking place at various venues in Windhoek.
In terms of facts about the first round of matches, no team has been able to achieve a 100 per cent win record and all teams in all four groups can still mathematically qualify for the knockout round of the champions league. Windhoek Correctional Facility, Impala Chiefs and Golden Rivers are the only teams that have failed to get a single point during the first round of games and they are one defeat away from being eliminated from the race.
Namib Eagles, African Rassap, Young Generation, Khomas Nampol and City Boys are the only teams that have so far not tasted defeat while Khomas Nampol and Swallows have conceded the least goals thus far.
The team with the most goals so far is Young Generation with 21 goals while Golden Rivers have conceded 25 goals, the most in the first round of games.