By Carlos Kambaekwa
With countless structures being put in place ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals on African soil, Namibia will soon see the birth of her own Players Union, an establishment many believe is long overdue.
Former Brave Warriors stars Lolito Goraseb, Congo Hindjou and Denzyl Bruwer are the architects behind the move that will lead to the establishment of the yet to be registered Namibia Football Players Union.
The trio wasted little time and sent an SOS to the South African Football Players Union (SAFPU) who in turn responded in the best possible way by dispatching its Deputy General Secretary Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe to take the Namibians through the ropes.
The articulate Gaoshubelwe minced no words and said there is an urgent need to professionalize the beautiful game at all levels, and emphasized the need for footballers to become part and parcel of decision making, notably when laws governing the game are sanctioned.
“Players are far too long being exploited by greedy club officials and fly-by-night agents who are only interested in lining their pockets, while the real stakeholders in the game are living on crumbs.”
Gaoshubelwe further urged football federations and associations to adjust their statutes to fall in line with labour laws as footballers must be treated like any other employees in the corporate sector.
“I’m actually taken by surprise with the hospitality of the Namibian football authorities because usually talks of a Players Union are always met with some measure of mistrust and hostility,” said Gaoshubelwe.
Namibia has been accepted by the International Federation of Football Professional Association (FIPRO) as an observer member together with Gabon, while Morocco is still waiting in the wings as a candidate member for a probation period of 12 months before the Atlas Lions can become a fully-fledged member of the Johannesburg-based FIPRO.
Countries that are already affiliated to the professional body are Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa but the Super Eagles’ membership has been strangely frozen for the time being.
The Chairperson of Orlando Pirates and Executive Member of the Namibia Premiership Board of Governors (BOG) Mabos Vries, who is also heading the NPL Marketing and Promotion Desk, said the elite league fully supports the idea of a Players Union as it will have the potential to enforce visionary leadership in the domestic football setup.
“Football leaders are the custodians of talent which goes along with personal financial wealth and we in the NPL have already started venturing towards that direction following our participation in the annual Soccerex at Johannesburg in November last year,” added the bulky football administrator.
Vries said a comprehensive report on the Soccerex retreat will be tabled at the next Board of Governors’ meeting at the end of this month at a yet to be decided venue.
The veteran football administrator was instrumental in overseeing the much-trumpeted Orlando Pirates transformation from a traditional community club to a commercial entity at the beginning of the current season.
Never shy to speak his mind, Vries strongly believes the value of football is hopelessly being underestimated by the corporate industry and said mechanisms are being put in place to protect the product and bring an end to exploitation.
Meanwhile, World’s football governing body FIFA has resolved to financially assist all premier leagues on the African continent with immediate effect until completion of the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, to ensure participating nations in the 2010 finals make an impact and mount a serious challenge for the title while playing on home soil.
The first phase is expected to be implemented after completion of the 26th edition of the African Cup of Nations, which gets under way in Ghana this week.
Namibia already completed its needs assessment at a two-day workshop in Windhoek last year.