WINDHOEK – As the national senior women’s football side, the Brave Gladiators prepare to face Botswana for their 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games qualifier, Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service Erastus Uutoni yesterday paid the girls a visit and delivered a heartfelt sendoff message.
The 20 member Brave Gladiators squad will this Friday lock horns with regional rivals Botswana for the first round 1st leg of their 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games qualifier in Gaborone, before returning home to face their neighbours in the reverse leg on 9 April in Windhoek.
An upbeat Uutoni yesterday took time from his schedule and visited the team at Football House’s Girls Centre Conference Room to personally deliver an encouraging sendoff message and remind them to put the country first in whatever they do.
“As you leave for Botswana, I again want to remind you all to go out there and play for your country with pride. We must play with aggression and show the world and Africa that you guys are indeed from the Land of the Brave. I always say sport can play a vital role in uniting people and branding our country, so this is an opportunity for you guys to go out there and put Namibia on the world map. Go out there and brand Namibia. You should market your country and in the game you should play as a team and do not keep the ball too long. Play to score and win and prepare hard and do us proud. Again, you are from the Land of the Brave, so do not fear anything on the pitch and play to win,” said Uutoni.
Gladiators head coach Brian Isaacs revealed that the team’s Spanish-based poster-girl Zenatha Coleman will be captain and deputised by Emma Naris. Anouchka Kordom who plays in the United States was not considered due to injury.
Sharing notes with the technical team members, the minister added that it was high time players of other racial backgrounds such as “coloureds” and “whites” are included in the team as well.
“We need to pull together as a nation. Whites should also play football, boys and girls and form part of the national team and it is possible and necessary to get a strong foundation for our boys and girls to get into sports. It is achievable, we can do this,” emphasised Uutoni.
The Gladiators leave for Gaborone today with the game set for Friday and the two teams will travel to Windhoek on Saturday morning to come and prepare for the second match on 9th April at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek.
The winner over the two legs will face South Africa in the second round. Zambia or Zimbabwe will then wait in the third round.
Brave Gladiators for Botswana: Mellissa Matheus, Ester Hamukwaya, Lydia Eixas, Ndapewa Katuta, Emma Naris, Uerikondjera Kasaona, Lovisa Mulunga, Lorraine Jossop, Twelikondjela Amukoto, Veweziua Kotjipati, Millicent Hikuam, Beverly Uueziua, Memory Ngonda, Juliana Blou, Julia Rutjindo, Asteria Angula, Kylie van Wyk, Zenatha Coleman, Thomalina Adams and Anna Marie Shikusho.