By Carlos Kambaekwa
In a desperate bid to revive their ailing fortunes, the Namibian Premier League has finally swallowed their pride and tip-toed across the Orange River to seek advice from their streetwise counterparts about the finer points governing the game of football.
The country’s elite league, under the guidance of Mabos Vries, who also doubles up as Orlando Pirates’ chairman, has enlisted the services of two high-ranking officials from the South African Professional League (PSL).
The pair, Professor Ronnie Schloss, chief operations officer (PSL) and Peter Mansor, marketing manager (PSL), arrived in Windhoek for a two-day consultative workshop at the Safari Court Hotel, last week.
Vries says the Namibian Premier League realizes the urgency of transforming domestic football and would therefore ensure that the planned deliberations produce tangible results and create the required basis for a sound and mutual long-term relationship.
“We have ambitious plans to introduce professional football, aimed at improving the marketing and communication aspects of our game and more importantly, to enhance the technical quality of our football.
“We strongly believe this process can only be accelerated through strategic partnerships with other local and international institutions such as the PSL,” boasted the bulky football administrator.
The PSL is currently rated the richest football league on the African continent with considerable resources in terms of human capital, facilities, systems and finances, which could be of great benefit to the NPL and Namibian football in general.
As hosts of the first ever FIFA World Cup finals on the African continent, South Africa have committed themselves to ensure the legacy of the global showpiece by assisting their sister countries with the nitty-gritty of football administration.
“This initiative has been greatly welcomed by the football fraternity in Namibia and has the endorsement of the country’s football authorities (NFA), and we in the NPL are grateful that the PSL has been able to accommodate our request for assistance, despite their heavy schedule as they prepare for the challenges of hosting a successful 2010 World Cup finals,” added Vries.
“We believe this gathering will provide us with a chance to tighten our bonds with our South African counterparts for the common purpose of developing the beautiful game whilst contributing to the social betterment of our community,” said Vries.
The head of the two-member delegation from the PSL, Professor Ronnie Schloss, said for any football league to make serious inroads into the hearts of corporate business, they first have to change the misplaced perceptions about the beautiful game.
“Modern football administrators must possess the ability to stimulate the interest in the game and make it a more family-orientated gathering for those going through the turnstiles so that they can feel safe whenever attending soccer matches.”
Schloss further warned against unnecessary crowd disturbances at high-profile matches, and says this particular exercise could send wrong messages and can subsequently chase away potential sponsors.
“We managed to correct that in our football setup and teams that are found guilty of any crowd disturbance are fined heavily, because it all boils down to sound administration at clubs – they have to get their ducks in the row, there’s just no two ways about it.
“One of the pre-requisites is that every club campaigning in our leagues must have their own fax machine – gone are the days when clubs would be run from the boot of their bosses’ cars,” charged the veteran football administrator.
According to Schloss, the PSL has been working in tandem with their English counterparts and this partnership has certainly shaped the image of the PSL, with television viewership having grown tremendously in the last couple of months.