• July 9th, 2020

Editorial - Football at the crossroads

Mahatma Gandhi, the late great Indian revolutionist and renowned anti-colonial nationalist lawyer, once said “I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles, but today it means getting along with people and taking people from where they are to where they have never been”. 

Allow us to tap from the wise words of Gandhi and remind both leaders of the suspended Namibia Premier League (NPL) and the Fifa-appointed Normalisation Committee (NC) for the Namibia Football Association (NFA) that the country’s football fraternity is at the crossroads and in dire need – not of leaders – but leadership. 

With the country’s topflight league suspended and on the brink of losing both its principle sponsors MTC and FNB Namibia, and an equally failing national football association currently being ‘baby-sited’ by a Fifa-installed Normalisation Committee, it is at this point safe to say Namibian football is waning and the situation could worsen if the status quo remain unchanged. 

The marathon court case between the NPL and the NFA, which started with egotistic failed negotiations and quickly escalated to the High Court before eventually hitting the break wall at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, has time and again confirmed how self-centred, unpatriotic and short-sighted leaders of both these organisations are. Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision to dismiss the NPL’s urgent appeal with costs finally puts the matter to rest and now calls for the NFA and NPL to return to the boardroom and jointly craft a common destiny that will serve the broader interest of Namibian football. 

Looking to the future, especially in light of tomorrow’s 28th ordinary elective congress where the NFA’s next president will be elected, it is of crucial importance to call upon whoever president-elect to make it his sole business to address the short supply of good corporate governance, integrity, transparency, honesty, efficiency and visionary leadership at Football House in Katutura. 

The incoming leadership will need to understand that organised football, just like any other structured civil society with foreign links, many a time appears to be an easy pathway to a corrupt life lived for personal enrichment and a shortcut to a lavish retirement. 

But I must warn that they should at all cost steer clear of such temptations. The downfall of Namibian football over the years has proven to be the lack of a clear roadmap, from the grassroots level up to the senior national teams. 

Away from the power tussles and maladministration, it becomes clear that the previous NFA leadership did not have a broader blueprint for the long term and how it intended to take local football to global heights. I am convinced that the current Fifa-funded models of development at NFA are not entirely bad and off the mark, but the human agents tasked with implementing those policies at the Football House are often the problem.   Therefore, a paradigm shift of attitude and culture is needed at NFA and is upon the incoming president and his team to ensure they restore the fading image and integrity of the association by publicly outlining their strategic plan for Namibian football and how they plan to achieve set targets. It cannot be business as usual, as Namibian football is faced with lots of challenges. 

It therefore calls upon the incoming leadership to find ways to address issues of inadequate funding, human capital capacity, club licensing systems for local leagues and the deteriorating relationship between the FA and the NPL for the greater good of footballers. It is also of paramount importance for the new leadership to develop closer ties with the line ministry and all other relevant agencies to address the thorny issues of infrastructure development and capacity building, especially at youth level. Equally, closer ties must be developed with the Namibia Schools Sports Union (NSSU) and in that space, in order to effectively address grassroots football development because without involvement of schools, it will be difficult to achieve much.

Staff Reporter
2020-02-21 12:13:00 | 4 months ago

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