‘Poor Stadiums Can Be Remedied’
By Carlos Kambaekwa
The Director of Sport in the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture Dr Vetumbuavi Veii has poured cold water on an article that appeared in a local English daily under the heading “Namibian Soccer in Crisis” earlier this week.
It was reported and rightly so, that the Namibian Football Association (NFA) will be compelled to conduct their international assignments outside the borders of the country, after the world’s football governing body FIFA deemed all available soccer stadiums on Namibian soil inadequate to host international matches.
The report sent shivers down the spine of many football enthusiasts, including high-ranking government officials who reportedly bombarded the line ministry with questions over the authenticity of the damning claims.
Highly respected FIFA official Dr Gerhard Kappl tabled a report to his bosses in Zurich, informing the world’s football governing body about the sorry state of local stadiums after a routine security inspection visit in July last year.
However, Dr Veii says his ministry has taken note of the concerns raised by FIFA and have already started to put their ducks in the row. He assured the general public that there is no need to start pressing the panic buttons at this point in time.
“We are fully aware of the concerns raised by the FIFA inspection team and its subsequent recommendations, but to suggest that our stadiums will not be ready to host international matches is a bit far fetched, because we have the capacity to upgrade them to the required standards ahead of our next international match.”
Veii says his ministry has already forwarded an urgent request to the Ministry of Works and Transport to conduct a cost estimation since this particular ministry is the sole custodian of all government properties.
The FIFA report also contains names of appropriate accommodation for visiting teams and FIFA officials, with the Safari and Kalahari Sands Hotels as well as the Windhoek Country Club Resort all given the nod.
In his assessment, Kappl found the Sam Nujoma Stadium Stadium in short supply of a horde of requirements, and singles out the absence of a doping control room and the virtually non-existing equipment in the medical (first-aid) room.
He recommends that the stadium only be used during daylight since the intensity of the flood-lighting system is only equipped with 500 LUX, and also bemoaned the absence of an “Emergency Generator”.
Furthermore, the stadium has been declared a no-go area for its lack of a television surveillance system and it is also suggested that an ambulance vehicle must be stationed at the stadium during high-profile matches, because the distance to the nearest hospital, the Katutura State Hospital is about 2,5 kilometres away.
It’s further proposed that the emergency evacuation route be marked with luminescent colours that can be easily visible, while he strongly recommends the VIP area to be equipped with at least 20 special seats for media practitioners (including blotting pads).
The customary Mecca of local football, the Independence Stadium in Windhoek came off worse, as the stadium itself does by far not meet FIFA standards, according to the assessment by the Austrian FIFA official.
Kappl says if qualification matches for the 2010 World Cup finals are to be played at the stadium – then the environment of the stadium must be adapted and put in an acceptable shape in accordance with FIFA requirements.
The FIFA official in his personal capacity suggested that it would not be advisable to invest in the Independence Stadium and urged the City of Windhoek and all other stakeholders to rather work in tandem in an effort to bring the Sam Nujoma Stadium to an acceptable FIFA level.
The Brave Warriors are expected to open their assault on the 2010 World and African Nations cup qualifiers against Kenya at the end of next month – barely three days after the FIFA inspection team’s arrival in Windhoek for its final assessment.
Should Namibia fail to upgrade its stadiums to the required FIFA levels – the country will have no alternative than to play its home matches in a neighbouring country or alternatively withdraw completely from all FIFA sanctioned competitions.