Allow me space in your esteemed newspaper to critically analyse the not-so-pleasant incident that had tongues wagging in the football fraternity concerning the Black Africa Sports Club (BASC) brand and, by extension, the handling of the matter by Southern Stream Football First Division (SSFD) supremo and Namibia Football Association (NFA) vice president Murs Markus.
As an administrator who has been around in the game and who is familiar with the rules, regulations, and statutes governing football, I cannot fold my hands, sit back, and watch attempts aimed at destroying one of the most successful soccer brands in the Namibian football landscape in general.
Egoistic individuals within the mighty BASC caused internal power struggles, prioritising their own self-importance over the brand itself and showing little regard for football and its rules, regulations, and statutes. BASC prior to the annual general meeting (AGM) had a clear roadmap indicating the time frame with expectations, calling for registration of members, expectations from paid-up members, etc. to self-correct and to pave the way forward. This information has been circulated on all social media platforms and to all who matter. A new executive committee was elected, and the rest, as they say, is history.
On Saturday 27 November 2023, I went to Ramblers Field to watch the kick-off of the Southern Stream First Division, with the matches scheduled to take place between Ramblers FC vs. Namibia Correctional Services FC and BASC vs. Latinos FC.
The much anticipated official match between BASC and Latinos FC did not take place, but it had all the episodes of the drama never witnessed before in BASC history and that of Namibian football in general, thanks to the disgruntled and hell-bent members of BASC through word-of-mouth association and executive(s) and official(s) at Football House who are in cahoots to paint a very dangerous precedent in Namibian football. Two distinctive BASC teams took to the field, one clad in black and red attire with no branding, which reminded me of the ‘no name/branded’ substitute can food products available on the shelves of local retail outlets such as Pick n Pay and Shoprite.
The outfit most likely came from one of the Chinatown outlets, giving it the appearance of an identity crisis. The other team donned the visible and traditional BASC strip that represents the rich history of the club and the ‘Lively Lions’ known to the football fraternity. It was a chaotic scene that I didn’t want to see anywhere close to any sports club in Namibia.
The ties that bind
After the relegation from the Namibia Premier Football League (NPFL) in the 2022/2023 soccer season, BASC prepared itself to campaign in the SSFD and was fired up and raring to go. When it learned of the underhand tactics of the ‘no name/no brand’, the genuine BASC wrote to SSFD Markus, requesting the postponement of its scheduled league matches to iron out the issues that were brought to his attention. Ironically, he turned a blind eye despite having all the documents submitted at his disposal. He single-handedly denied the genuine request from BASC and allowed the matches to continue. As a U-turn and because of pressure exerted by the sympathisers and supporters of the club, the match billed for Sunday was eventually postponed indefinitely. This clearly demonstrated indecisiveness, hypocrisy, and arrogance.
Markus is the chairman of the SSFD and was elected as the vice president of the Progressive Forces-led new executive committee of the Namibia Football Association (NFA). Both positions he holds are key and require decisive action, and he has executive members at both levels to consult in lieu of the rules, regulations, and statutes of the SSFD and NFA. He should, without fear or favour, interpret and apply the rules of the game and, at times, advise his colleagues as the most senior colleague who has been around in the game. While I acknowledge his abilities in execution, when he becomes indecisive and takes sides, he assumes complete authority and places himself in a highly vulnerable position.
After having perused the letters from BASC to Markus as depicted on social media and WhatsApp correspondences, it paints a gloomy picture towards his person and the very important offices he holds. It just doesn’t add up. He is at the helm of one of the best-administered first-division leagues in the country, SSFD, and should replicate the same when handling matters of extreme importance. He should not directly or indirectly meddle in the affairs of an independent establishment, which is contrary to the rules, regulations, and statutes he must uphold and defend. The truth always has a funny way of coming to the fore. To see the nature of disorder and end it is the beginning of intelligence, and equally, to see that which is false as false is the beginning of the truth. How can leaders expect to be believed if they have a false start right from the beginning? Ties shouldn’t be allowed to bind in desperate times for all the wrong reasons. When you see the truth of something, you are standing completely alone.
‘Progressive Forces’ led NFA leadership
I have said it before, and I will repeat it again. There is regressive behaviour in some of the ‘Progressive Forces’ leadership, and this will not augur well for football in Namibia, amidst the good intentions and unity preached by president Robert Shimooshili. They have the tendency to put fuel on fire. They fail to hold each other to account when they are wrong and totally out of line with the rules, regulations, and statutes governing football. They must be able to look each other in the eye irrespective of their influence, status, or positions in the leadership and must self-correct and admit when they are wrong or erred in the best interest of football. Protecting each other will not take us anywhere as a footballing nation. It shouldn’t be about ‘we campaigned for you’ or ‘I brought you in’ or ‘you came into the leadership because of our slate or on our ticket’.
Wrong should be wrong, and it can never be right. They cannot blindly follow each other and be right while they are wrong and continue interpreting the rules, regulations, and statutes the other way around.
In the run-up to the elections of the NFA executive leadership, Shimooshili’s response to the prospect of his campaign asserted that he did not do any campaign as he believed the people who nominated him to stand would vote for him.
“It was not my request to get the nominations. The members who nominated me have been asking me to stand for some time now. I finally agreed because they have been persistent,” he said.
He further emphasised good governance, trust, accountability, and a conducive environment where the stakeholders have access to NFA and their input is valued.
I hope and believe that Shimooshili will not be hamstrung by his sentiments and his good intentions. People asking him to stand for the presidency must not derail his good vision for Namibian football. The people he did not ask to nominate him also campaigned and voted for him. It’s normal to allow agreements and disagreements to dictate the course of informed and meaningful debates. Mr. president, familiarise yourself with the rules, regulations, and statutes governing football; be on top of your game; take charge; take control; and call naughty bricks to order. Do not tolerate the locked-in thinking and tombstone mentality advanced by those with hidden agendas. Mr. president, you will thank me one day! What your vice president is doing is contrary to your assertions of good governance and trust.
Purported late registration of players
It was widely speculated on social media about the late registration of players after the deadline of the first window period closed, with reference to two distinctive BASC saga. Again, this is the highest travesty of injustice and fair play in the game of football and the bending of rules at will. This is unacceptable and must be investigated, and those responsible for this mishap and raping the rules must be brought to book.
Way Forward: Urgent Appeals Committee/Tribunal
As things stand regarding the BASC saga, all is not well, and it is not good for the brand itself, and it reflects very badly on the powers that be at SSFD and NFA. Football has started. SSFD as well as NFA rules, regulations, and statutes are very clear, and there are guidelines as to what needs to happen in certain scenarios such as this. Can the NFA leadership forthwith sort out the mess within this week? They created this mess, and they are party to it. It’s in the best interest of football to sort this out now! Establish the veracity of the facts through the available mediums, and once and for all, put this matter to bed in the best interest of football. Be advised always to discern sense from nonsense, exercise emotional intelligence, and above all, be the servants of football with the Federation of International Football’s (Fifa) motto of ‘Fair Play’. Even if you don’t want to, at least pretend to exercise this ‘Fair Play’.
Abuse of power is not always right and is not a good and honourable thing to do. Let football be the winner at the end of the day.
*Jefta McGregor Gaoab is an independent football fanatic. He writes this opinion piece in his own personal capacity. The views and opinions contained herein are not those of New Era Newspaper, its advertisers, or any of its stakeholders.