• July 12th, 2020

Up close with Namibia’s football First Lady - Julien Garises

Namibian football is a great deal of gratitude indebted to Julien Garises, the slightly built soft-spoken madam, who has almost single-handedly masterminded the birth of women football. Garises will go down in history as the first female to be elected to the traditionally male-dominated Namibia Football Association (NFA) executive. Women football in Namibia would not have made significant strides locally and abroad had Julien Garises not been born.In today’s edition, New Era Sport goes toe-to-toe with the First Lady of Namibian football as she relives her thorny football journey in what was then regarded a grey area for would-be female athletes.


A diehard Buccaneer supporter, Julien got exposed to the beautiful game of football at a fairly early age. Born in Namibia’s commercial capital Windhoek, on the 1st of December 1968, in Katutura, Julien was introduced to the game by her football-crazy uncle Lallao Gariseb, an ardent Orlando Pirates Football Club supporter.

“My uncle, Lallao, would drag me along to the old Katutura Stadium whenever Pirates had a date and that’s when I developed serious interest in football. 
She first started playing street football with Namtas /Haubas and other girls at Jan Jonker Afrikaner Secondary School in a boys’ team. 

‘We played street football with boys but my passion for the game only grew stronger in 1991; I started out as an attacking midfielder before shifting between the sticks {goalkeeper}. 
Julien watched the first Women’s Football final between the United States of America (USA) and Norway alongside Mimie Geingos and Makuka Haoses.

The girls were so fascinated and realised that women’s football could be advanced to that level and resolved to start women’s football teams in the country, notably in the vastly populated Katutura.
“We put shoulder to the wheel and tasked Mimie to approach the printed media whilst I went to spread the gospel at various indigenous radio stations. 

After a week, more than one hundred players showed interest and hooked up with the brainchildren of the project. The girls gathered at what is today known as the Shoprite Complex and as they say, the rest is history.

Julien has been involved in the game ever since, boasting a remarkable resume with stints at the following clubs: played for City Girls Football Club, the first women’s football team from 1992 to 1996; she was the first female to serve on the NFA executive between 1994 and 2005, certainly no mean feat. 

The soft-spoken calculated madam was elevated to the position of chairperson of the organising committee of the country’s football governing body NFA between 1999 and 2004 and went on to lead various national teams as head of mission on international excursions. 

And to put the cherry on top of the cake, she was bestowed the distinct honour of Afcon Bid Ambassador 2010. Julien currently holds the following portfolios: match commissioner since 2010; coordinating and placing referees Women’s Super League 2018-2019, and placing referees on Khomas Second Division 2014-2018.

She has been appointed Caf match commissioner for 2020-2021 season, served as vice chairperson on Women’s Football Super League 2018-2019, executive member of Khomas Football 2014-2019.
“The very first person we approached and consulted regarding our plans to kickstart women’s football in Namibia was uncle Hendrik Christiaan. Their office was at the Magnum Tools, opposite the old breweries. Uncle “Chri” took our plea to then NFA president Charles Kauraisa”.

“The portfolio ministry took the lead under the stewardship of Dr Vetumbuavi Veii, and with valuable support, we were able to travel to different regions play matches to select national teams. 
“Our first-ever foreign trip was in 1998, touring Swaziland, where we partook in the Four Nations’ Cup, featuring hosts Eswatini, Namibia, Lesotho and Tsakane Ladies. We were scheduled to play our final match against Tsakane Ladies, but heavy rains led to the cancellation of the tie”.
The team was coached by Sivuthe Katamba with then NFA secretary general Eliphas Aupapa “Bazooka” Shipanga, doubling as head of mission. 

“As it turned out, our efforts to play competitive football was finally recognised by local business mogul and salted freedom fighter, the late Aaron Mushimba. 

“We competed in the Pilchards Cup, where Keetmans Girls, mentored by Gabes Fryer, reached the final to set up a date with United, coached by Ngaa Katjiuongua from Otjiwarongo.
Subsequently, Tsakane Ladies travelled to Namibia and played two friendly matches. In the first match against City Girls, coached by Tony Meroro, the hosts lost 7-1 before suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat in the second match. 

The exhibition match was organised by former Brave Warriors coach Rusten Mogane and Eric Muinjo. “We are a great deal of gratitude indebted to Biza Tsamaseb, who supported women’s football and started the Future Girls football team. There was a total of eight teams in Windhoek. 

“The Ministry of Youth & Sport tasked all the regional support officers to assist with transport and team selection on national level, a directive that enabled all regions to participate. Nonetheless, I must admit there were many people who played significant roles in the development of women’s football”.

Julien says she never got the opportunity to play for the national team, as she was always involved in administration. She was instructed by the NFA to run an eye over the affairs of Women’s football and competitions committee under the leadership of then NFA president Petrus Damaseb.
Julien is currently serving on the Women’s Football Super League and still spreads the message of football through radio and television programmes, and often joins commentators in newspapers on sport topics as requested by local sport journalists. 

Off the pitch, the iron lady of Namibian football is a noted call centre supervisor at Telecom Namibia. We salute this kindhearted, amazing soul, a truly committed servant of Namibian football. Let us honour our heroes and heroines while they are still alive.   

Carlos Kambaekwa
2020-03-06 10:17:51 | 4 months ago

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