Just What Is Damaseb’s Legacy?

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Carlos Kambaekwa There have been piles of tongue-wagging after the sudden but inevitable departure of Petrus Damaseb as President of the country’s football governing body, the Namibian Football Association. A significant number of cocky football pundits were zealous to make their own analyses as to whether the stocky judge really lived up to his earlier promise as guided by his Election Manifesto or not. Well, I thought the best possible route to make fair measurement on the brother’s tenure was to lay my somewhat ageing hands on his Election Manifesto, which I eventually managed to get hold of, and believe you me it was a whale of a slave to dig up the seven-page and well-articulated document and dust it off. Now, let me briefly take you through some of the undertakings, which could not escape the eye as underlined in the document simply titled “The Case For Petrus T. Damaseb For The Presidency Of The Namibia Football Association” during his campaign in 1999. In his introduction, the outgoing President referred to a phrase about the man who was asked to define an elephant and replied that he could not define an elephant but could tell one when he sees it. Damaseb said at the time he could not define the nature of the problems facing our football administration, but could sense there were indeed phenomenal problems with the way Namibia’s leading sporting discipline was administered. He promised to produce a Programme of Action to which all Executive Members, Regions, and Players were to own up. He further pulled no punches about the Association’s rocky relationship with sponsors and promised to put a lid on what he termed “Slave Contracts” as well as to mend the then soured relationship with the game’s biggest benefactor, the Namibian Government. Amongst some of the most touching subjects he pointed out were the activities of the Disciplinary Committee where he emphasized the importance of speeding up disciplinary cases without compromising fairness, effectiveness and consistency. Building Unity and Diversity: Damaseb felt Namibian football was polarized along ethnic lines and was adamant to knuckle down on this ordeal with bare hands, obviously with a little bit of help from his colleagues within the NFA Executive. Ja, let me now have my say as digested from the above stated selected clips. After careful perusal of the seven-page document, I fail to trace any witties in the business of words on the progress of the national football team the “Brave Warriors”, a scenario which has inadvertently armed the doubting Thomasses with a hired roaster to grill the brother for the team’s dismal performance. As somebody with a sound legal background, one would have expected the Association to deal with disciplinary matters in a fair manner, which has not always been the case, the Life Fighters issue being a case in point. Salomo Naukushu was unconstitutionally co-opted to the NFA Exco, and when the brother fell foul of the elite’s crime sheet – he was shown the door using exactly the same entrance, and up to this day formal charges of misconduct are yet to be brought against the brother, lest we forget. The burning issue of tribalism just refuses to take a breather, despite many people living in denial and avoiding open discussion on this potentially progress-threatening cancer in our football structures. As I’m penning down these lines now, a four-page strong worded communiquÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© has been forwarded to all the relevant authorities containing serious allegations of tribalism at the troubled “Soccer House”. And though the NFA, under the leadership of Damaseb, managed to spread its wings and took football to the regions – the Association more than often cold-shouldered the goose that lays the golden eggs, in this case the Namib Premier League and the “gesture” to offer the country’s elite league shelter at Soccer House was a well-orchestrated plot to weaken the powers vested in the Board of Governors. Hey, my brrra – after all, he who pays the piper calls the tunes!!. On the positives, and there are many, gone are the days of slave contracts and the N$40-Million Dollar sponsorship over a period of five years bears testimony to this. The construction of “Soccer House” during Damaseb’s reign is amongst some of the milestones and the brother also managed to live up to his earlier promise to mend the soured relationship with government. The office is up and running and since Damaseb took over – we have never heard of late or non-payment of the staff at Soccer House, while the regions have been taken care of in monetary terms. More importantly, Damaseb’s qualities as a leader did not go unnoticed within the FIFA family and the brother was co-opted onto various Sub-Committees globally and continentally as well as regionally – needless to say it, but certainly an achievement still to be surpassed by any local Sport Administrator. Come on!! Let us give credit where it is due, yes of course, the brother lurched along the way because of bad advice from those who were supposed to guide him, but overall, I strongly believe the brother left a legacy and rightly so, deserves a pat on the back. Ja, I rest my case. Holla !!, I’m running a bit thin on the poison ink and urgently need to refill – nevertheless, I’ll be back next Friday, so until then, it’s ADIOS for now !!.