By John Tuerijama
IT is perhaps not the best time to be a football leader in Namibia, especially if you are the chairman of the Namibia Premier League or the president of the Namibia Football Association. There are just so many things that happened or didn’t happen that put a bitter taste in the mouths of football followers. The main one, of course, is that the NPL lost a major sponsorship and has not been able to get the season rolling due to lack of funds. Junior national teams were withdrawn from the Cosafa Under 20 and the AUSC Region 5 Games in Angola late last year. National team players have also not been paid their match fees. The list goes on and on. Football lovers are hoping for a better 2017, a year in which there will be less boardroom issues and more action on the field. Confidente got in touch with NFA president, Frans Mbidi who shared his views on the current situation as well as highlighted programmes that are expected to be implemented this year and beyond.
Confidente: We are now in 2017 knowing that 2016 was dogged by different kinds of problems, what is your new year’s message to the football fraternity?
Frans Mbidi: We are occupying our positions to serve the electorate and the general public. It is therefore imperative to always strive for the betterment of the conditions of our people. My motto this year is: HARD WORK! The NFA has always been at the forefront when it comes to the commitment of the entire football family to hard work and this is the motivation we are taking with us into the new year.
Confidente: The year 2016 had its own share of problems, ranging from no league action to national teams’ players struggling to get their dues from the NFA to the flagship NFA Cup being off the radar. What can football lovers look forward to this year?
FM: Our main activities are problem solving and most importantly football development. All the problems you have mentioned are economic in nature and are directly related to the prevailing economic situation in our country. It is unfortunate that these types of problems will only disappear when the economic situation has improved. At the moment, we must make peace with the fact that there is competition for the sponsorship dollar as both Government and the private sector are making some hard choices on what to spend their scarce money on. The fact that we at the NFA are struggling to get our committed funds from the line ministry is not a joke. It is real and we must face that fact. It should be well understood that it is never the intention of the NFA not to pay players their dues but we are confronted by some factors beyond our control. We are only able to honour our obligations towards national team players once the committed funds are availed to us.
Confidente: The football loving public is still uncertain whether the NPL will get their league started this year. How does the NFA plan to assist the NPL to ensure that it gets injection from the private sector?
FM: The NFA is now working in close cooperation with the Namibia Premier League to ensure that the league starts soonest but it still remains the direct responsibility of the NPL Management and Membership to find lasting solutions to their challenges. It is our hope that this major challenge will be dealt with soonest so that the players could return to the field of play without further delay.
Confidente: What are some of the key priority areas that the NFA leadership needs to address to take the standard of football to another level?
FM: The NFA has over the years paid special attention to governance but at its last Congress the Association, having taken into consideration the harsh economic climate in the country, resolved to up the ante in terms of governance so that we are able to balance our operations with the available resources and respond better to the needs of the Association and its membership.
In addition, we must maintain the developmental work we have predominantly occupied ourselves with in the area of Youth Football, both boys and girls, to ensure that we sustain the growths and successes achieved with the U/17 Boys National Team in Mauritius and the U/20 Women National Team in Angola. If you take into consideration the results of youth football competitions in the sub-region over the past year, you would have noticed that Namibia is only second to South Africa. That is a very good position to be in and we need to up the gear not to surrender that position. We must build on that! To this end, we must intensify the work we are doing with the regional youth leagues.
Women Football will receive much more attention this year. We want to strengthen the Women Sup e r League even more and avail better resources to them in the process. Educational opportunities for women football, specifically coaches, will be availed to improve the product and make it more attractive to potential sponsors while a targeted approach will be embarked upon to revive regional leagues for women footballers. It is also our hope that the NPL will soon resolve their sponsorship challenge to enable the country’s elite league to kick off.
Confidente: Apart from securing a sponsorship for the NFA Cup (now Debmarine Namibia Cup) are there any plans to have an additional cup on this year’s football calendar?
FM: The standard of football worldwide is for the Football Association to have only one cup competition at senior level every year. Since we have now secured sponsorship for this cup competition the focus should now shift to securing funding for the lower divisions in the country. The responsibility to establish an additional cup competition lies now with the Namibia Premier League. We hope they do.
Confidente: Are there any high-level delegations from both CAF and FIFA expected to visit Namibia during 2017, and if so what will be the objective of their visit?
FM: As a devoted member of the international football community, the NFA always receives and hosts high level delegations from both CAF and FIFA from time to time. This year will be no different. High level delegates will come to Namibia for various reasons including but not limited to courses, mentoring, inspections and strategic meetings amongst others.
Confidente: What are some of the FIFA programmes that Namibia is expected to benefit from, and if any how will that benefit the football fraternity?
FM: The NFA will this year benefit from further infrastructural developments. Work on the laying of an artificial football pitch at the town of Omuthiya will commences this year and we will also see the completion of the NFA Hamlet Square at NFA Football House. We also intend to enlarge the pitch at the NFA Technical Centre and erect floodlights at the same facility this year. This goes without saying that our game stands to benefit handsomely and improve for the better. More players will have the opportunity to use state of the art facilities for extended hours and more time to refine their skills.
Finally, to you, our partners from media, your job of informing the nation and keeping us on our toes, is immeasurable and always appreciated. Leaders should learn not to take criticism as personal attacks but rather as an opportunity to assess progress made. I hope you will continue to attach objectivity and balance in your reporting this year and beyond. Let me also take this opportunity to thank our development partners, the fans and football players for their continuous support to people’s game
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015