A petrol jockey from Omaruru, Mike Akale, is on a quest to remove Omaruru youths from the streets by hosting soccer tournaments in the small, secluded Erongo town.
The 37-year-old soccer enthusiast started the project out of worry that young Namibians engage in harmful practices, predominantly drugs, as there is nothing constructive to occupy themselves with.
“Omaruru is a small town that has a lot to offer, and the youth can be such agents of change. I want young people to move off the streets. I told them there is nothing beneficial about using drugs. Most of the young ones are into drugs, but not so much alcohol here,” the devoted man told the Youth Corner.
The benevolent Akale started organising tournaments last October, and has since noticed a change in some participants’ behaviour as they adapt to the new routine of frequently playing the game and getting more disciplined.
“As I am talking to you now, I gave them a ball, and they are busy practising,” he said, adding that his residence, which has become a haven for them, is only a few metres away from the soccer field.
He has thus far hosted and financed four tournaments out of his own pocket, and is planning on hosting the last one for the year in October.
“I have invested the little cash I have into tournaments, and never got a profit. During the last one (April 2021), I got a lot of people around - people I have never seen in my life.”
Akale is disappointed with the ministry responsible for youth and sport as well as business people who have been shutting their doors on him when he sought assistance, and he only credits the Omaruru Pharmacy, which has sponsored medals and trophies.
“Locals are not interested in investing in sports; I have tried all the shops. Omaruru Pharmacy, at least, contributed in terms of medals and trophies. Businesses are all benefitting as people are supporting their establishments.
“The town benefits a lot from people coming because of the tournaments. I am still trying to wrap my head around why people who can help are hesitant. Maybe there is something we are doing wrong. In our last tournament in April, a total stranger came and gave the teams food - a stranger - while locals don’t even bother,” said the disappointed, yet appreciative and teary Akale.
He told Youth Corner the boys are ready to play for the Brave Warriors.
“I need a hand to assist me, and the youth and sports ministry should chip in so that we can take these talented young Namibians out of the streets,” pleaded Akale.
National Youth Council (NYC) executive chairperson Sharonice Busch was moved by the work of Akale, especially sponsoring events at own cost, while his occupation is a petrol jockey.
“What Mike is doing is laudable, and we, the NYC, commend the efforts of young people. The Namibian youth should emulate this kind of passion and commitment that you can see from the story of Mike. Community leaders should take note of the good work done by members of the community; they need to come on board and support such initiatives,” shared Busch.