By Carlos Kambaekwa
The Chairman of the Southern Stream First Division and owner of Deportivo Alaves Football Club, Willy “Mistake” Swarts, has called for drastic changes to the current structures of domestic football.
The often-controversial football administrator, who juggles many balls and also serves on the Namibian Football Association (NFA) Finance Committee that was launched in April this year as its secretary, says there is an urgent need to re-model football as a commercial entity.
Swarts says the Sub-Committee has tabled a series of proposals to the NFA Executive but is quick to point out that he could not divulge the details since the document is subject to scrutiny from the country’s football authorities.
The 38-year old articulate Swarts, who also doubles as an uncompromising politician in the Hardap constituency, strongly believes those at the helm of football administration have not been serious enough to put the right human resource structures in place.
“As a result, we are now struggling with the execution of essential assignments with the lame excuses of lack of funds, yet we do not mobilize the human resources that can bring money to football.
“In my opinion, Namibian football is currently operating in only one out of four cash-flow quadrants with sponsorships being our main source of income, because we don’t generate money and the marketing quadrant is virtually non-existent.”
Swarts pulled no punches and said Namibian football is continuously short-changing itself – a situation that resulted from a clear lack of innovation, ultimately leading to the game being undervalued.
“Look at the case of broadcasting and media rights, we don’t own them because they belong to our Consortium of Sponsors – something that is very uncalled for in modern football.”
Paying Too Much Lip-Service
“There’s this misconceived argument that the national football team the Brave Warriors would become world beaters if more money is pumped into the Namibia Premier League coffers and the league becomes professional. Point in case is South Africa, which has the richest league on the African continent and is ranked number seven in global football in terms of its financial layout.
“Comparatively speaking, South Africa has one of the weakest national teams in world football whilst England who boast the richest football league in the world does not have one of the best national teams one finds around town, and England’s notable absenteeism at the recently concluded European Championships bears testimony to my argument.”
Swarts says the problem lies somewhere else and funding is not the core problem. “Our national team will not improve until such time that we have consistent sustainable development programmes at all levels throughout all the regions. With all due respect to the current crop of players in the Brave Warriors squad, there are some players who would not be able to make the starting eleven at my club Deportivo Alaves. ”
He urges the country’s football authorities to tighten the screws on the current national Under-17 squad as the youngsters have shown tremendous improvement and possess all the hallmarks required for international football.
“Those boys have technical ability and composure, while their ball possession ability is second to none, despite their young age and the logic behind that is because serious attempts were made to create sustainable development structures through the newly introduced Khomas Under-17 League, and the positive spin-offs have certainly trickled down to the National Under-17 team.”
Focus on Strategy for Results
“I would rather propose that the current Under-17 national squad members be promoted to the national Under-20s between the upcoming Zone Six Games and the Confederation of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Under-20 Cup, since this particular exercise would enable the players to earn at least nine caps for the Under-20s and they would still be eligible for selection for the Under-20 side until 2010.”
Swarts says if Namibia follows that route – Namibia would stand a good chance of winning the Cosafa Under-20 tournament in 2010, and suggests that in order to sustain such an undertaking, there is an urgency to put development leagues in place starting with the Under-12, 14 and 15s in order to feed the national Under-17 squad and the rest of all national teams.
Arrest Lukewarm Showing of Late
“We can copy the Brazilian concept of having four players for each position, thus meaning a squad of 44 players that are constantly evaluated at different intervals. That way we can avoid having young players disappearing into the wilderness after making their mark in both the Under-20 and Under-23 setup.”
Need to be Patched Up
“I would propose we go the same route as the South African Springbok Rugby Fifteen where they have a technical panel of local coaches working day by day with players at the highest level, and are given a free hand to select a provisional squad of 44 players – leaving the head coach with the simple task of trimming down the squad to his own satisfaction.”