By Carlos Kambaekwa
The much-anticipated four-nation Under-17 tournament suffered a slight dent when Zimbabwe pulled out of the 5-day tournament at the last minute.
The tourney, featuring hosts Namibia, South Africa and the visiting Westphalia regional team from Germany, as well as a hastily assembled Namibian Under-17-B side, is pencilled in for the Kuisebmond Stadium in Walvis Bay, with the ball getting rolling this Sunday.
The Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture and the Federal Republic of Germany have been enjoying a fruitful long standing bilateral agreement aimed at developing football at youth level in Namibia since 1994, alternating every year.
However, in 2006 the line ministry resolved to alter the format of the competition by extending invitations to Zambia and South Africa to become part of this venture in an effort to make the event more competitive. This new initiative led to the birth of the Four Nation Tournament.
South Africa won the inaugural tournament at the same venue in 2006 after seeing off Zambia in the final.
Speaking at the official launch in Windhoek yesterday, the Director of Sport in the line ministry Dr Vetumbuavi Veii briefly outlined the primary objectives of the joint venture.
“To give young footballers a chance to showcase their talents and use sport as a vehicle to promote and further enhance the political, economical and social aims of the country.”
According to Dr Veii, Westphalia has done a great deal in assisting with the development of youth football and the upgrading of teachers to coach youngsters at their respective schools with a sizeable chunk of teachers currently armed with B-Level coaching qualifications.
In addition, the Germans have provided dozens of soccer balls, togs and equipment to needy would-be footballers and teams to realize their dreams.
South Africa won the inaugural tournament at the same venue after seeing off Zambia in an electrifying final played before an enthusiastic crowd.
The tournament has proved a huge success and served as an educational tool for some of the youngsters who have never visited the coastal town before.
Entrance to the games will be free of charge and the ministry has extended a word of gratitude to the Walvis Bay Municipality for making the facilities available at no cost and also gave the Namibian Police a pat on the back for providing security personnel during the tournament.