By John Tuerijama
NAMIBIA Premier League clubs are holding on to the last thread of hope that a solution to their sponsorship woes will be found soon so that the league can start in earnest.
While waiting for football leaders to secure sponsors, some clubs have decided to suspend training programmes while others are forging ahead, praying for a Samaritan to rescue the ailing fortunes of Namibian football.
Football in Namibia has come to a virtual standstill, thanks to the inability of the Namibia Premier League leaders to attract credible sponsors.
Thus far, only one company, Groot Systems, has offered N$3 million for the next three years, totalling N$9 million. That is hardly enough to get the players to start chasing leather around the various fields and stadiums where premier league football is usually played.
The failure to secure sponsorship has also forced some clubs to close shop and to rather wait until there is a concrete sponsorship offer on the table of the NPL bosses.
Confidente Sport has it on good authority that some clubs have sent their players home, promising to call them back when sponsors have been found. Some clubs have committed to pay their players while on forced leave while others have made no payment commitments.
One such club which has sent players home is premiership defending champions, Tigers, whose coach, Brian Isaacs has confirmation the suspension of the training programme.
“There is no use training. That’s why we suspended the training right after the Standard Bank Super Cup final against African Stars. I don’t know how long the suspension will be, but it all depends on how long we will be able to sustain the payment,” he said.
Orlando Pirates FC coach, Woody Jacobs said there is no point in training as there is no football nor is there any income for the club. As to whether players get their monthly salaries, Jacobs said there has been a contractual agreement between players and the new team’s management as far as he is concerned.
Pirates, has had disputes with some players for non-payment at the end of last season. Some have not received salaries for the past four months, it was alleged.
Citizens FC chairman, Dave Goagoseb said his charges are fully focused with their pre-season training.
“We have not suspended our training yet, although it is a very difficult moment for us. We have had discussions with our players about the situation confronting football and they have been understanding.
Although players are still in training, the mood is not so positive but we keep urging them to march on. Really, all that we want is for this problem or the BoG members to find an amicable solution to this problem. We have elected them in those positions and we want to see positive results,” urged Goagoseb.
NPL newcomers, Young African have also suspended pre-season training, according to owner, Maleachi Ngarizemo. “We suspended our training a fortnight ago since there is no indication of the league ever starting any time soon,” he argued.
Ngarizemo said he has not offered any contracts to any player yet as a result of the lack of sponsorship which has caused the league not to kick off yet.
Blue Waters team manager, Tostao Imbili said the ‘Beautiful Birds’ are in training and that they are doing everything to keep the programme going.
“We cannot suspend the training. That will be like punishing the players. All we are trying to do is to help players where we can,” he noted. He said players are in training because of love for the team.
According to Imbili, Blue Waters has already paid the annual affiliation fees of N$64 000 to the Namibia Premier League (NPL).
Eleven Arrows FC head coach, Lucky Shipanga said his team is also in training as it is not a good idea to suspend training. He said doing so will disorient and demoralise the players.
“I really encourage other teams to not suspend their training. I know the playing field is not level as there are teams who have sponsorships while other do not have but discontinuing training will really disgruntle players,” he said.
Shipanga is nonetheless optimistic that a solution would be found, and thus called on the corporate world to be sympathetic and help remedy the situation.
He said the team’s management has mobilised its die-hard supporters to assist with the supply of toiletries for players and accommodate those that are not originally from Walvis Bay.
Board member of UNAM FC, Evaristus Evaristus indicated that his club resumed training on Monday.
However, Evaristus said his board met to discuss the possibility of discontinuing the pre-season training since the kick-off date for the new season is not yet known.
Young Chiefs vice president, Nicky Kapuka said the team is hard at work with pre-season training. Regarding payment of players, Kapuka said: “We have an agreement with the players after we told them about the current situation,” said Kapuka. He would not disclose what that agreement is all about.
Mighty Gunners administrator Malakia Endjala, said the club is busy with pre-season training and are looking forward to the new season. The army side seems not to be affected by the issue of payment as most of the players are employees of the Namibia Defence Force.
Another newcomer, Chief Santos, has also suspended pre-season training to give players time off to sort out their clearances with their previous clubs.
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