By Dino Ballotti
I found myself at the counter of the Bank Windhoek Hosea Kutako branch on Monday afternoon. The teller, a gentleman in his mid 20’s who was assisting me started a conversation that went like this – “Pardon me asking but aren’t you the coach of a PSL team?” After my polite, “no you must be thinking of someone else”, he was taken a back and continued to ask, “are you not the coach of the Brave Warriors?” After laughing at the second guess I had to ask, “my man do you really watch football?” A now rather confused bank teller who was sure he was in the presence of a TOP coach posed one last question, “but I’ve seen you on TV before and you look like the coach of Kaizer Chiefs, are you seriously not the coach of Kaizer Chiefs!”
As funny as this may sound and as much of a fan I am, both of Ricardo and Stuart Baxter, my man at Bank Windhoek either has the rare ability to predict the future or knows absolutely nothing about local football. I am drawn to the latter but the moral of this story is simple – our local football knowledge is frightening!
After dwelling on the rather odd conversation while sitting on the plane, I kept thinking about this dude and wondered how many other Namibian armchair fans that know very little about our local game we actually have. What do we as local football people need to do to convince the nation that we mean business, and for the misconception of our football being a Mickey Mouse affair to be rubbished and done away with once and for good?
Some self-reflection reminded me of matches I was a part of in years gone by, when we used to eat either ‘bruin broed’ and jam or n’ porsie chips as our pre-match meal. When we used to travel to away matches against Juventus in Swakopmund as 15 players packed in the back of an Izuzu single cab bakie. As well as how we used to camp in coach Joa’s garage, packing mattresses in such a way that 16 men could sleep on 10 single mattresses. Despite these fond memories of those experiences which I will always cherish, a club like Ingwenyama (Tigers) now eats its pre-match meals at the Hilton hotel, we travel to away matches in Mercedes-Benz busses, and camp 2 per room in the Arebbusch lodge before most home matches.
Football in Namibia has developed and will continue to grow, we started off with a measly N$ 560,942.00 sponsorship from MTC for the 2002-2003 season and today can boast a colossal N$13,333,333 million sponsorship for the recently commenced 2013-2014 campaign. The strides taken over the last 10 years bears testimony to the professionalization of our league. One individual that has tirelessly been plotting the transformation of the league is the current NPL Chairman, Johnny Doeseb, a visionary that has made it his sole mandate to professionalize football in Namibia. Behind the scenes he has been strategizing, holding negotiations with important stakeholders and meticulously constructing the roadmap for the future of our premier league. It takes greats leaders to transform companies, and as in football the fruits of your labour may not be appreciated by all, but I can personally tell you that you are a breath of fresh air and your guidance will take us to the next level. A statement you made in a previous board of governors meeting that I need to repeat, “money should not stop us from doing what needs to be done.” When we talk of vision and strategy in a business connotation, such are the words that describe it perfectly.
If we are to reach the ultimate goal of professionalizing the beautiful game in Namibia we need to stop focusing on the negatives of our game and start playing our part. Clubs need to start recruiting individuals that will revolutionize the way we do things, not only on the football pitch, but those that work tirelessly behind the scenes. The kind of people like my good friend Mario Carreira need to be brought back into the structures as he is another charismatic football leader who shares the vision that many can only dream of by aggressively setting up sustainable compositions which will ensure continuity and drive, those in the powers that be need to set outrageous targets and roadmaps that we as a football loving nation must unselfishly support and drive.
The dream is to wake up to a fully professional Namibian Premier League, for each club to own their very own stadium, for all players and club personnel to be full time employees of their respective clubs and for broadcasting giant, SuperSport , to broadcast live NPL matches on a weekly basis. Let us make this dream a reality, remember that all great ideas are first ridiculed, then considered and finally accepted.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015