Otjiwarongo outfit Life Fighters Football Club's chairperson Anton Kake yesterday had to employ last-ditch efforts to avert a crippling strike after the team’s players launched a massive one-day protest over unpaid wages.
The players’ unpaid wages date back to December last year, and they had threatened not to honour this weekend’s fixtures against coastal sides Eleven Arrows and Blue Waters should their salaries not be paid by end of business yesterday.
The players also refused to train yesterday morning, and demanded that the club’s management first provide a concrete explanation as to when their outstanding salaries will be paid, and how such a disconcerting situation will be avoided in future.
“We are currently on strike because they have not paid our salaries for December last year and we are not even sure if they will pay us in February. All the players are here at the field and have all refused to train. We are unable to buy groceries or send our loved ones any money to help themselves because we have just been playing but not getting paid. It can’t continue like this; we want our money today or otherwise, we won’t play this weekend’s games,” said one of the disgruntled players.
Another player, who spoke on condition of anonymity, demanded that the club’s management come forth and engage them on the way forward, especially about their outstanding wages from December 2022 and other pressing issues.
“It is difficult for us to continue training under these conditions and as human beings and as players, we can no longer continue like this. They need to do something about our situation. They promised to pay us last week,but nothing happened. All they did was give us a mere N$500 to ease the pressure and avoid embarrassment from the public. But today (yesterday), we said it will not continue like this, and we won’t go onto the field until our salaries are paid,” fumed the player.
Upon further enquiry with the under-pressure Kake, he revealed to this publication that last-ditch efforts were made by the club’s leadership to bring the situation under control and as at lunchtime yesterday, all the players had received their outstanding December 2022 salaries.
Kake said that they have tightened all loose ends to ensure that the upcoming January salaries are paid on time, and that further operational disruptions are avoided.
“We are aware of the situation on the ground, and this was caused by a few issues. But as I’m speaking to you right now, every single player has received his salary for December 2022. Those who do not have bank accounts will receive their money in cash through envelopes. To be quite honest, there was a problem with the monthly grant that we normally receive from the league as it did not arrive on time and that caused a lot of problems. But the situation is now under control and all players have received their money and that also means we will be in high spirits as we honour our fixtures this weekend,” said Kake.
Action in the Debmarine Namibia Premiership will continue this weekend, as log leaders African Stars take on traditional rivals Orlando Pirates at the Unam stadium in the capital tomorrow.
Popularly known as the Katutura derby, Pirates will be looking to break Stars’ momentum with a possible victory and Pirates gaffer Woody Jacobs remains optimistic that his charges can pull off a surprise.
“Playing against Stars is always a tricky one, but we have to remain optimistic and have to believe in the quality and potential of the squad that we have. Anything is possible, and we look forward to the challenge,” he said.
Also in action tomorrow is Eleven Arrows who take on Life Fighters at the Jan Wilkens stadium at Walvis Bay, and Blue Waters, who will host Julinho Sporting at the same coastal venue. Tigers will face Young Brazilian at the SKW stadium while Citizens square off against Black Africa at the Khomasdal stadium.
Civics will take on Young African, also at the Khomasdal stadium, while Okahandja United will confront Unam at the Nau-Aib stadium in Okahandja. Mighty Gunners will host Tura Magic at the Mokati stadium in Otjiwarongo.
On Sunday, Blue Waters face Life Fighters at the Jan Wilkens stadium which will be followed by a clash between Eleven Arrows and Julinho Sporting at the same venue.
At the Unam stadium in the capital, Orlando Pirates will face Young Brazilian, while Tigers will host leaders African Stars. Citizens will take on Young African at the Khomasdal stadium, while Civics will play Black Africa at the same