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Stop the rot: Open letter to the NFA Executive Committee

2018-10-30  Staff Reporter

Stop the rot: Open letter to the NFA Executive Committee

Dear members of the NFA executive committee, I am writing this Open Letter to you as custodians of our football, the game we love. I want to state from the onset that apart from being part owner of Tura Magic, a club in the Namibia Premier League, I hold no official position that entitles me to address you in this manner and you may therefore find my way of approaching you at odds with your Statutes.

Nevertheless, I write to you as a very concerned football lover. My name and face are synonymous with football in this country. And I am not saying it to bring glory unto myself. People know my passion and love for Namibian football. 
I am that one individual who will watch football at Sam Nujoma stadium while the rest of Namibians are glued to their television sets, watching a top English Premier League or Spanish La Liga or South African Premier Soccer League game. I am that one individual who takes my kids and drive to the corner of Monte Christo and Otjomuise Roads on the outskirts of Windhoek to watch Informal Settlements League matches where players wear nothing else but passion on their sleeves.

I believe in the power and ability of Namibian football to transform the lives of our young men and women. I know it because 25 of those young men play for my team, Tura Magic. The lowest earner at my club takes home something slightly above N$1000 per month. 

And that person does not hold a degree of any sort and does not have any hope to find a job in the formal employment sector. Soccer is his only way out of poverty and however little, the money he earns sustains an entire family. That money comes from the sponsors, our own pockets and from friends and family members who see the value of what we are trying to do. 

That is just Tura Magic. There are 15 other teams in the Namibia Premier League, 36 teams in the Nationwide First Division, and 136 teams in the Regional Second Division. That gives you over 3200 young Namibian men women who have put their hopes in football for survival. 

Considering our economic challenges and our education levels in the country, the contribution of football to alleviate poverty, create employment opportunities, put bread on the table and buy nappies for babies should be commended. Hardly a day passes without being confronted by people who express concern about the state of football. 

I have stopped walking in town because I am embarrassed to face questions about the state of our football. And I am not even close to being a member of the football leadership. Soccer in Namibia is not a self-sustaining industry. At least not yet. Soccer is very dependent on the goodwill of government (for national teams) and on business entities for clubs. 
In some cases which are actually very prevalent it is club officials and parents of players who dig deep into their pockets to fund the operations of their clubs. Soccer does, however, have the potential to be self-sustaining. 

We have perhaps not yet discovered the formula to make it profitable as is the case in other countries where football is taken seriously. Soccer could do a lot more for Namibian youths if we create the necessary environment for it to grow into a profitable and sustainable enterprise. With our over dependence on other sectors, we cannot afford to, or behave as if we are a law unto ourselves as football people. We walk cap in hand to people’s offices begging for money. 

Despite being the largest sport in Namibia, football still depends on the mercy of others. The 18-month hiatus of the Namibia Premier League, because of lack of sponsorship is a case in point. Had it not been for MTC’s intervention we would still not see any premier league action today. 

Same can be said for the NFA Cup which was not played for a season until a corporate stepped with a sponsorship. We cannot therefore, for even one second, beat our chests and say we are able to run football on our own, without the input of government and corporate Namibia. What we can do, though is to position it as a brand that no corporate can shy away from. 

The South African Premier Soccer League, I am told, has won the favour of Corporate South Africa to such an extent that in the event that all their sponsors decide to pull out today, they will be able to run their operations for five years uninterrupted with the reserves they have amassed over the years. 

Namibian soccer is unfortunately in a state of chaos, and you, the NFA executive committee, by your silence, are directly responsible for the state that our soccer is in. To state that soccer is on autopilot is an under-statement. Soccer is the latest comedy show that people are entertaining themselves with on a daily basis. 

The president and secretary general of the NFA are engaged in an open war which further undermines the brand of football. We do not know the genesis of the fight between the president and secretary general of the NFA but what is clearly evident is the damage it is causing to the brand of Namibian football. 

It is hurting those of us who look at football as a means to an end for our young people. If you don’t know, every day of no football in Namibia means one day more of no income for our players. Every day of the public spats that you have allowed to play themselves out in the open means one day more of loss of trust by stakeholders and waning of reputation. 
As a football person, I also go around speaking to influential people about the possibility of investing in football. Their message is brutal: “At the moment there is no good song to sing about Namibian football.” 

They also point to all the negative media reports on football. As executive members of the NFA, you are seeing how things are unfolding in the open and you are doing sweet nothing. Confidential information is being used to wage this ugly war. Have you wondered how your stakeholders are looking at you from a distance? Have you ever wondered what they might be thinking of you and how they are afraid to even send you and email which they know will be out in the open for all to see? 

How you considered how your silence is pushing our football deeper into a quagmire? In case you do not know. Let me tell you that you owe your position on the NFA executive committee to the thousands of Namibian football lovers. Not to yourself. You were elected to fulfil the wishes of the football loving public. Your job was simple. 

It was to ensure that there is a conducive environment for young men and women to play and enjoy football. To create an environment that attracts sponsors to football and make it grow so it can become a fully-fledged industry which will support government’s job creation efforts. You are failing, my senior brothers and sister. Perhaps you do not attend Brave Warriors matches. I do. Let me tell you what happens there. When Namibia wins, people lose themselves. Some drink and some do whatever to express their happiness. 

Some lose their voices, some lose their clothes and shoes, all in the name of football. When the team loses, especially at home, people go and sleep early. Some attack the coach and players on social media. I don’t blame them. They love their team and they love their football. 

That’s the way they have learned to express their emotions. But imagine if winning becomes consistent. We will be a very happy nation. But you are failing the people whose happiness depends on football. As custodians of our football, we are tired of your silence. 

Football is being destroyed on your watch. Is this not the lowest point in our football? All the significant gains of the past years are being wiped out by personal fights and destruction of football’s reputation. You are absentee leaders of our football. You see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. 

You are selling our football short. It is not late yet. You have time to start acting in the interest of football. You must do the right think or voluntarily leave those positions for people who have the interest of football at heart. We will not have the patience to wait until Namibian football becomes synonymous to a banana republic. 

That will mean sending over 3000 young Namibians to the streets and sending their hopes up in smoke. We can’t afford that to happen. You must turn around the tide and if you can’t please hand over power to people with fresh ideas on how to transform our football and make it worthwhile for our young Namibians.

2018-10-30  Staff Reporter

Tags: Khomas
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