Something Awfully Amiss

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Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

IT may not border on turmoil or chaos but certainly it may be something akin to a malignancy.

I am talking about affairs in the nation’s foremost sports code, football. When the sports code changed the top guards, especially with a new president assuming the reins of the Namibia Football Association (NFA) more than two years ago, new hope and expectation was ignited that football would now be put on a new plain.

This hope was in no sense misplaced. John Muinjo is no newcomer to Namibian football, having served several years as vice president. True to expectation, he has proven himself a worthy candidate for the position. Since his assumption of the position many doors seem to have opened to Namibian football on the international level. One of his achievements was bagging a coach of the calibre of the late Ben Bamfuchile. The latter proved his mettle when we qualified for the 2006 edition of the Africa Nations Cup.

The list of Muinjo’s achievements may be endless. However, achievements by the national body on the administrative level, as far as football is concerned, do not seem to match the public profile and persona of Muinjo.

The latest symptom to the continuing malignancy of football in the country that we thought was on the heal with Muinjo’s entry is the confusion surrounding the aborted league match between two of the capital’s leading clubs, African Stars and Black Africa.

During the course of the week, we have been hearing two versions to the debacle, one from the affiliate body and champion of the premier league, the Namibia Premier League (NPL), the other from the mother body, the NFA. As far as the NPL was concerned, this match should have been played this Wednesday while for the NFA the matter was under its review.

The NFA and the NPL are supposedly the right and the left arms of the same – Namibian football. Or rather the NPL is the right hand of the mother body, the NFA. But a cursory look at the football scene reveals that rarely does the mother body know what its right hand is doing and vice versa, nor does the progeny seem to bother about the well-being of its mother. A case in point is the debacle surrounding the aborted match.

It seems the NFA rules and regulations are just decorative. And this apparent don’t-care attitude towards the laws of football speaks volumes of the calibre of the leadership entrusted with running our football affairs. Except for having little respect for football laws, the NFA and NPL instead seem to have unknown and unwritten laws of their own. Not only that but each seems an island with own little demagogues calling the shots against the best wishes of the football supremes and the nation.

The love-hate relationship between the NFA and the NPL seems infectious on other would-be relationships with other football shareholders. Notably the NBCTV, as the coverage of international games have proven.

Last weekend, our national team played Zimbabwe in the second leg of the African Championships. As is increasingly becoming the norm, local football lovers and the Brave Warriors fans were deprived of live coverage of the match. This is not the first time this is happening. Yet previous experience seems to have taught both the NFA and the NBC little lesson.

Somehow one detects an incomprehensible rivalry between the NFA and NBC bordering on the same haughtiness that seems to have been shrouding the relationship between the NFA and NPL. One is inclined to think that to the various personalities running football, it is no longer the national game run in the interest of football lovers and the nation at large but has become just another battleground for the establishment of own fiefdoms or kingdoms. And the NBC somehow seems to have joined this battle if the lack of live coverage of international games is anything to go by.

The ultimate looser in this battle is football. The good intentions of the likes of Muinjo notwithstanding, if we continue on the path we seem to, we have no hope of gaining success and elevating our national football team as well as football in general to a different level. Whoever is involved in football must refrain from the illusion of football as their personal power base and focus on the real challenge.

The real challenge is to put the code on the right path. In this, the NFA is expected to provide leadership. There are many genuine efforts at the grassroots to develop the code but these seem to enjoy little support from the football powers that be. Seems the little undeclared internecine wars of the leading cast are all that matters. This cannot but give rise to doubt in the ability of our football agents. Yes, good intentions may be there but surely football in this country needs more than just good intentions. It also need resoluteness on the part of its leadership, something that seems to be awfully lacking for now.

Otherwise how does one explain the sense of lack of direction as has been seen in the failure to provide live coverage of international games because of the failure of the relevant shareholders to reconcile their objectives? The end result of all these is that our national team shall remain stagnant and football in general shall see no progress. Money spent on football shall be money thrown down a bottomless pit.

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