Let me recall the precise words of then Prime Minister Dr Hage Geingob, when he addressed a sizeable audience of sport administrators, officials and sport scribes, of which the author was amongst the attendees, at the old Nictus building in the center of Namibia’s commercial capital Windhoek many moons ago.
Geingob, now Namibia’s seating President, at that occasion took us through the ropes in the area of decent behaviour, standard protocols and good governance during an extensive three-day grill.
“Sport, football in particular, possesses the desired potential to mend strained relationships between rival nations. The beautiful game of football is a unifier and can be used to settle political, racial and tribal conflicts,” Geingob said that day.
The message was loud and clear, it’s needless to note that it was also during the same time when all local sport codes were accommodated under one national umbrella body, the Namibia National Sport Council (NNSC), which was the precursor to the Namibia Sport Commission (NSC).
Yours truly has been keenly following with a pinch of concern the pattern of arguments advanced by sympathisers of both parties, the Namibia Football Association (NFA) and the expelled Namibia Premier League (NPL).
There’s an aggressive and potentially dangerous element of hidden tribally driven loyalty towards the entire process. So far, the author is yet to witness any of the self-styled “football fixers” providing tangible suggestions as to how these two parties can find common ground rather than deliberate divisive tactics.
We should at all costs guard against creating divisions within national structures because the moment one tackles issues of national interest with one eye fixed on personal returns, impartiality goes through the exit door.
Did I hear somebody saying that the world football governing body Fifa does not tolerate government’s interference in the domestic affairs of its citizens? That’s an absolute cock and bull story, or wait a minute, maybe we should be flexible and slightly adjust the phrase from “interference” to “intervention”.
When our national sport teams are unable to fulfill international assignments under the auspices of the same Fifa because of financial constraints, football bosses are always quick out the blocks begging government to financially intervene.
But alas, when it suits them perfectly well, notably in times of ugly disputes government’s intervention is suddenly rubbished as interference.
Namibia has been and remains a very peaceful country but the ongoing nauseating tribally motivated squabbles and personal attacks on social media could have far reaching repercussions if the breaks are not applied soonest.
People are no longer looking at the bigger picture as to why is our most prized pastime asset finds itself in the current quagmire. This is now the most appropriate time for all political parties to roll their sleeves and stop the rot.
Considering the skeleton size of our paltry populace, Namibia cannot afford to entertain two separate football entities. Yours truly is making a humble appeal to all former footballers and administrators to intervene and act as mediators between the seemingly uncompromising NFA and the expelled thick-skulled NPL because at least, you guys have played the game at the highest level and should have a better inner understanding on dispute resolutions.
If it’s true from what I learned from a reliable source that one of the ringleaders of the self-anointed Progressive Forces group bragged that they were indeed the chief instigators of the NPL expulsion, then I’m inclined to conclude that our treasured asset is heading towards a slippery slope journey.
Football has the ability to serve as a unifier and the example of Japan and South Korea co-hosting of the Fifa sanctioned 2002 World Cup is testimony to this adage. The two countries had been traditional enemies and distant friends since Japan’s 35-year occupation of the Korean peninsula, which ended after World War II.
However, with both countries jointly hosting the 2002 World Cup marked the turning point of their strained relations and chalked off all political tensions between them, that’s the power of the beautiful game. I rest my case.