WINDHOEK – Football remains the world’s most popular sport code with an estimated four billion fans across the globe, and while many of the beautiful game’s top names are the most recognisable faces on the planet, they are many a time not always viewed as citadels of intelligence and responsibility.
Off the pitch and away from the stadium turnstiles, footballers are more famous for living large lifestyles and roving around in top-of-the-range sport cars.
However, as always the case in many instances, there are exceptions to this rule and the intelligence of some footballers may surprise some, and Namibia is alike no exception either.
Former Brave Warriors and Tigers Football Club industrious striker, Muna Katupose, is a man on a serious academic mission and will stop at nothing to annihilate the misplaced perception that footballers are destined to become vagrants once their playing days are over. The highly experienced 30-year old enterprising front man, who had stints with the Namibia Premier League (NPL) outfits Black Africa, African Stars, Tigers, Eleven Arrows, Oshakati City and Unam FC, also enjoyed a remarkable career with the national senior team, spanning well over a decade which saw him being part of Namibia’s 2008 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) squad.
Muna, a twin brother to local football star Tara Katupose, has been in India since May last year pursuing a degree in Medical Radiology and Technology at that country’s CT University in Punjab and is set to complete his studies in the next five years.
Speaking to New Era Sport, he explained that football is a short career and the need to have contingency plans is important for any footballer or sport person in general. “Sport, in general, is a short career that can end in a blink of an eye. You might be in an accident and not play anymore and that’s where education comes in handy,” said Katupose.
He was speaking to this publication on what it takes to be a footballer in Namibia and the necessary plans footballers should have to best secure their futures.
“You must never rely on football alone, especially in Namibia. Just imagine like right now, there hasn’t been any football activities for a whole year and 90% of players rely on the salaries they get from their respective teams but since there is no football going on, it means no salaries will be coming in for them,” highlighted Katupose.
A teacher by profession, he advised fellow footballers to have other options in place, suggesting those with lower grades can alternatively go to institutions such as Vocational Training Centres (VTCs).
Katupose added that he decided to further his studies in order to live a better life and provide a secure future for his family.
“It’s better to have something that can make your life easier, for example, a good qualification will give you a good job which can help you earn more. I’m doing all this for my kids in future and my mother who sacrificed a lot securing a future for me,” he said.
“Education is the key to success. Please, fellow players, get out of your comfort zones and do something that will benefit you after your playing days are over. The sad part about Namibian teams is that if one gets injured, they forget about you and that leaves players in a tough ordeal of having to foot and sort out their own medical bills, which tend to be way harder and difficult to bear when one doesn’t have medical aid. This is why it is always important to have a back-up plan,” he advised.
With an extensive background in teaching, after completing an education degree at the University of Namibia (Unam), Katupose revealed that was not his original future plan.
“Before studying for the education degree, I was accepted for Radiology at Unam and studied it for four months before quitting due to financial constraints. I opted for education because I was offered a government loan. I decided to take up all the time and save up for the Radiology course, which I am paying out of my own pocket right now.”
Katupose is not the only footballer locally who has a career off the pitch. Brave Warriors former captain Ronald “Stigga” Ketjijere has since become an established lawyer by profession, while ex Black Africa’s Quinton Kuruseb embarked on a career in Auditing.
Meanwhile, former Civics and Ramblers striker Alfred Ndyenge is an established entrepreneur, who is venturing into retail and lifestyle enhancement. Likewise, former Blue Waters talisman Knowledge Ipinge was recently voted councillor for Walvis Bay Urban constituency and remains a dedicated businessman.
Sport women with careers off the pitch
As much as sport is male dominated in Namibia, there are few women who have either embarked on the journey of fostering and penetrating into the industry through education. Former Brave Gladiator captions Helvi Eliakim and Stacy Naris always made sure their studies came first despite their first love being football.
“During my teaching career, I fell in love with sport but I decided to go back to school again because education is and will always be key. As a footballer, I picked up an injury and I have to thank education as it was my fall back zone. I would advise my sisters in different sport codes to take it upon themselves to get some kind of academic qualifications,” said Eliakim, a teacher by profession who is now a full time student at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) pursuing Sports Management.
Meanwhile, Naris completed her degree at Namibia NUST in Communications, she has decided to use it in something she loves and is now the acting Secretary General of the Namibian Football Players Union (Nafpu), contracted as a Communications Officer.
New Era Sport also established that U/20 national player Carmel Donn is currently a final year student about to obtain her pilot license, while Brave Gladiators’ coach Mamie Kasaona is a teacher by profession at Berthold Himumuine Primary School in Katutura.