It is gratifying to learn that Namibia after an absence of 10 years or so is back among the top creams of African football.
After a lean period of a decade, we can now earnestly look forward to Ghana 2008 not as onlookers and supporters of other teams but as participants. A big pat on the back for our coach Big Ben! And of course, his able team without leaving anybody out from the coaching staff to the back-up team, including the administrative staff all the way to Brother Kayele and his supporters’ club.
Of course, the consortium deserves a special mention although a lot needs improving on this score, especially now that the team has qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Ghana in 2008. I am sure we are all aware that even the preparations for the crucial game against Ethiopia have not been plain sailing with the national side unable to engage among others, in competitive games, particularly a friendly against Angola because of lack of funds. Thus the Malawian independence celebration exhibition game and the Cosafa tournament in Botswana was somehow a blessing in terms of our competitive preparations for the crucial game against Ethiopia.
Against this odd, and many others, like lack of competitive football in the country due to the delay in the beginning of the football season, the team went on to achieve a first in 10 years by qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations finals.
I cannot, as I am sure the whole nation, but once again reiterate my gratitude for this achievement by the Namibia Football Association (NFA) in ensuring that next year we are active participants in the continent’s soccer showpiece and not mere sideliners and cheerers-on.
But what we have achieved so far is only the beginning. The real test and hurdle is yet in Ghana. After an absence of 10 years, we do not want to be just another second debutant but make our presence felt with pride and honour. We don’t want to enter Ghana unimpressively only to disappear again and come back again a decade after. Ghana must not only represent the anno mirabillis for Namibian soccer but the anno renaissance in which never again shall Namibian football look back. I think the qualification for Ghana has provided the necessary foundation on which our national side and football in general in the country can build in terms of taking this sport to greater heights.
But!!! It does not only take the NFA and its immediate partners. It takes the whole country and nation sponsors not in the least. Animis opibus que parati must be the motto. One would dread to hear that the side could not prepare properly for Ghana 2008 because of lack of funds. If the consortium has not put enough into football hitherto, surely they have all the more reasons to do so now. This is to allow our soccer season to get off an a good grounding this year because the extent to which the national side gets ready for Ghana 2008 would partly be a function of the healthiness of competitive football in the country. Conversely, those entrusted with the administration of such funds are expected to bring their due and impeccably so.
Obviously, the NFA and the Ministry of Sports mean serious business in this regard as I understand they have already been meeting this week with the consortium to carve out an action plan for the country’s preparations and eventual participation in the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations.
Not only has that, but presumably the NFA Secretariat, already drafted a budget in anticipation of Namibia’s participation in Ghana that it submitted to the Namibia Sports Commission. Crucial for the NFA though is sorting out the appointment of the long-overdue chief executive officer so that the administration of football in the country assumes a firm hand and its affairs in general become effective, efficient and steady.
I am aware that one of our national sides is also currently in France partaking in the rugby world cup finals. I must say I am impressed by their first performance against Ireland. Ireland is no minnow in the world of rugby, thus losing against them 32-17 is not a mean feat. Clearly our national side went down fighting. Keep it up! We are behind you all the way.
The next match against France may not be an easy one but as they have shown against Ireland, certainly they can hold their own. Thus each and every Namibian must also show his/her own by standing all the way behind Welwitschia! They have shown that they are worthy envoys of the Land of the Brave.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed for them!