DATE: April 22nd, 2015
A Bleeding Namibian Football Community’s Open Letter to President Geingob
Dear My President, OUR President.
Today marks exactly ONE month since you became President of this aspiring Republic. Congratulations once again, Our President!
My sincere apologies for only writing this letter now. I felt the first month was going to be busy for you with various priority issues to content with. From media highlights over the past month, I believe I was right to refrain – Our President was indeed very busy.
May I state that I write this letter in my private capacity, and in my capacity as a Khomas Second Division football club owner. I am, however, positive that my views are shared by many club owners and the Namibian football community and its sympathizers nationwide.
Our president, WE NEED HELP! The Namibian football community needs help.
The Namibian football community needs to be CAPACITATED.
Currently, football in the country is structured as follows:
The national association (Namibian Football Association - NFA) governs football in the country, under the “watchful eye” of the Namibia Sports Commission.
The Football Regions (Regional Leagues), the Namibia Premier League (NPL) and its Three (3) 1st Division Streams, among many other bodies, are members of the NFA. Affiliated to football regions are rural and/ or recreational federations i.e. 3rd Divisions. In some regions these are formal leagues from/ to which clubs gets promoted and relegated.
All Football Regions’ Leagues have a maximum of 12 member clubs, with only the Khomas Region with 16 clubs. The three 1st Division Streams - the Southern Stream, the North West Stream and the North East Stream - each has 12 member clubs. The Namibia Premier League (NPL) has 16 clubs.
Affiliation and Administrative Costs vs Financial Sense
Each member of the NFA pays annual affiliation, players’ registration etc.. fees/ levies in the thousands of Namibian dollars, depending on the level the member is at.
The sponsors of the NPL subsidizes NPL clubs with a monthly grant, barely sufficient to help them with administrative costs, transportation (Namibia is a vast country mind you, Our President) and player salaries - as a result, club owners have to cover the extra costs from their own pockets.
The 1st Division clubs get a per-league round/ season grant through the same arrangement, again barely enough for these clubs to travel, and administer their clubs. First division players do not get salaries, for obvious reasons.
The 2nd Division clubs DO NOT get grants nor any financial assistance from the mother body nor its sympathizers. Club owners, unsustainably, take care of all administrative costs and overheads from their own pockets - very shallow pockets for that matter. Year after year, these very clubs unleash buckets-full of talent into the Namibian football players’ pool. Many of them go on and represent the country at various levels. Can we imagine the potential of quality-output if our football was sensibly and healthily funded and monitored?
In summary, there is no sensible financial atmosphere or socio-economic incentives in Namibian football. This surely inhibits the growth and progress of our football. In the current setting, the people involved in the sport are just there for the passion and personal commitment to keep the youngsters involved and focused on positive outlooks. May we commend them for this.
Is there nothing that modern Namibia can do to help these struggling and dedicated men and women (club owners and sympathizers) to take our football to new heights? Is there nothing that our Namibia can do to complement their passion, supplement and encourage them to further address socio economic cries through this wonderful sport?
Players Welfare vs Keeping Kids off the Street
In Namibia, the phrase we commonly hear from lawmakers and national leaders around the issue of football is: “it keeps kids off the streets.”
I beg to differ, football shouldn’t have that simple a purpose. And it sure doesn’t, Our President! If funded, monitored and administered well, it has far reaching socio-economic influence than we presently acknowledge.
As much as they are struggling, the NPL clubs through their meager salaries, have sustained and continue to sustain a number of football talented countrymen who couldn’t make it through other socio economic avenues. May we commend them for this.
Our president, there are at most 30 players in every NFA affiliated football club around the country. Add to that the number of kids hopelessly joyous in several football club academies. Thousands more players are stalling their talents in unaffiliated or informal football clubs or worse in farm/ village shebeens around the country, due to the discouraging costs of bringing them into professional football setups i.e. accommodation, salaries etc.. Are we saying these young men cannot make a living out of their talent? Are we saying, no matter your God given talent, the only route to socio-economic freedom in Namibia is through education and entrepreneurship?
League Winnings vs Final Log Position Incentives
In the NPL, league winners and top four placed teams are rewarded. Barely sufficient winnings, in costs vs reward terms.
In the 1st Division, league winners and top three placed teams are rewarded. The rest goes home with nothing, but a huge bundle of administrative debts to worry about before the next season.
In the 2nd division, league winners and top three placed teams are rewarded, financially ceremonious. The rest goes home with nothing. Add to that the fact that these clubs had to finance all their administrative and overheads costs themselves. It is a nationwide nightmare.
Through sensible funding and monitoring, Namibian football clubs can be better rewarded, thus well-resourced and better capacitated.
Football Leadership & Administration
Our President, does Government have specific interests, plans, expected outcomes or goals in national football?
How does Government ensure, through the Sports Commission, that the activities or affairs within the football fraternity are in line with these interests, plans, expected outcomes or goals? I am well aware that government interference in these Associations is for a lack of better word, forbidden by FIFA – the world governing body of football, but surely there are legal and sensible ways that government can get what they want from football i.e. provided there are outcomes they expect from it? e.g. outcome based funding or key performance indicative funding?
Infrastructure & Facilities
Well, heavens help us with facilities in Namibian football. It is a nightmare, Our President. A nightmare from the NFA administrators, the NPL administrators, the 1st Division Streams administrators, Regional Football Administrators, Club Owners and football sympathizers nationwide.
Our President, may we agree that Sports infrastructure (football infrastructure especially) in Namibia is in dire need of improvement and modernization?
For example: In Windhoek, with over 300000 inhabitants, over 100 NFA affiliated clubs, recreational and informal settlements clubs have only about 6 football fields to share. The situation is worse in the regions, where there is only a single football field per town.
Our president, we are comfortable with the potential reality that perhaps government was swamped with other priority issues over the past 25 years, but surely we should be optimistic that Our President and his government have plans on this front, going forward?
Our President, we are concerned. We are worried. We are suffering. We are strained. Help Us! Help Namibian Football. Help the many men and women out there working days and nights completely straining their personal socio economic situations to “keep the lights on” for the Nation’s football. Help them go better than just “keeping the lights on”.
Our President, we still believe that football is an avenue so powerful that if it is well funded and well monitored, it can eat out a massive chunk off Namibia’s socio economic concerns. An avenue so powerful to unite and bring so much infectious joy to this nation. Kindly capacitate us, Our President.
We are willing to engage. To converse and deliberate. To work towards sustainable solutions, for the long term good of Namibian Football.
Pascal Haingura (Mr.)
Namib Eagles FC
Khomas Football Region