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My candid view - Why a new NPL is not a bad idea after all

2020-08-07  Otniel Hembapu

My candid view - Why a new NPL is not a bad idea after all

In case, and I really mean just in case, the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) fails in its last-ditch effort to try and mend the strained relationship between the Namibia Premier League (NPL) and the country’s football governing body, the Namibia Football Association (NFA), then we, as a country and as football fanatics, should be open and ready for new and alternative football enterprises.

Yesterday, the NPL announced it has established and registered a new professional league with the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA), and that it had also applied for membership with the NSC. The NPL’s newly established professional league, registered as a Section 21 company under the country’s Companies Act of 2004, will be entirely independent from the NFA. I’m also informed the NSC has been hard at work, talking to and consulting both parties with the hope of avoiding Namibia having two functioning football leagues in the future, which many feel a disaster for the development and smooth management of the local game.

But in the unfortunate event the NSC fails to strike a lasting deal with both entities, football-loving Namibians will be left with no choice but to seek for the return of football through various avenues available to them. I have, for the past few weeks, been saying the tussle between the NFA and NPL has presented Namibians with a unique opportunity to reflect and decide what the future of Namibian football should look like. But truth be told, worldwide relationships between football associations and premier leagues are dwindling, sometimes because of man-made politics, but sometimes I think these infightings are a clarion call from Mother Nature to football associations that the time is ripe for them to change and modernise their ways of doing business with their member leagues.

The outdated old-fashioned style of football associations continuously being castigatory regulators and abusing their constitutional bargaining powers to maintain a stronghold on the throats of the leagues is slowly starting to backfire. I say it’s time for football associations worldwide, NFA included, to move on with the times and modernise their ways of conducting business.

Just look around the world and right here next door to Botswana and others, premier leagues worldwide are all calling for freedom to freely go commercial and independently sell their brands to sponsors – and in the process, improve the livelihoods of the players without getting a cautionary side-eye from their mother bodies (football associations). That is the reality of my good friends, nothing else.  Almost 30 years down the line, it has become clear that the current business format and the genetic blueprint of the NPL have not yielded the results we all wanted to see. The NPL, which was just expelled by the NFA a few weeks ago, was, in all honesty, a failing product – with nothing new to offer to would-be sponsors, except the old and outdated propositions as all came to know. 

In fact, the expelled NPL was lucky to have the likes of MTC and FNB around for such a long time. It’s either the NSC and sports ministry quickly better find an amicable solution between the two bodies, or they (NSC, sports ministry) should allow the newly established NPL professional league to pursue its destiny and bring about the desired change we all want to see. Football must professionalise.
It can’t be business as usual for the next 30 years; we can’t have an amateur premier league for the next 30 years, and we can’t sit around with a product incapable of selling itself to sponsors. Something drastic must be done – and if the new NPL professional league will have the answers to our problems of the past 30 years, then give the new league the blessings it so deserves and the NFA should be ordered and reminded not to make life difficult for the new professional league.

I’m not saying the new NPL professional league will have all the answers to our problems, but what I’m saying is Namibian footballers are in dire need of a new direction, new opportunities and a new environment whereon they can amplify their careers. Let’s reflect and decide how we want to see Namibian football to look like for the next 30 years and that time is now. Until next time, sharp sharp!! 

2020-08-07  Otniel Hembapu

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