By Carlos Kambaekwa
The embattled coach of relegated Blue Waters Football Club, Lucky Shipanga, says there is light at the end of the tunnel and has called on the club’s diehards to rally behind the team as they ponder their future in the country’s second tier division next season.
Shipanga says despite all odds stacked against them, he’s tried his level best to save the team from sinking further down; but the writing was already on the wall as he found a badly demoralized bunch of players upon his arrival.
Shipanga took over the coaching duties at the troubled club following the unceremonious departure of long serving Coach Sheperd Murape, who jumped ship with the club’s former boss Hendrik “Hennie” Dawids, only to resurface at Orlando Pirates, but the much travelled Zimbabwean mentor Murape left the Buccaneers ship under a cloud after only a few matches in charge.
Murape’s position at Blue Waters was taken by the club’s former players Doda Martin, better known as Ephraim Shozi during his days with the national junior teams, and Dokkies Theodor. However, the pair struggled to deliver the goods and soon made way for the more experienced Shipanga, who had just parted ways with neighbours Eleven Arrows under a cloud.
“When I arrived, the ship was already sinking and people should not lose sight of the fact that Blue Waters has been fighting relegation for the past two seasons. It could have been a miracle for the club to survive relegation under the chaotic circumstances in which the club has been operating,” charged the stocky mentor.
“The problem that mainly led to the team’s demise is the culmination of unruly behaviour by some supporters who thought they could just take over the running of the team without pumping money into the operation. Modern football requires a good budget if teams are to compete and challenge for top honours – that’s the bottom line!”
Shipanga says the current crop of players genuinely lacks the required quality to compete at the highest level and some of the youngsters’ introduction to the tough rigours of top flight football came too early.
“The bulk of these youngsters were certainly not ready for Premier League football and we only had three experienced players in the squad and that made it extremely difficult to integrate these youngsters.”
Shipanga also cites jealousy and greed amongst some of the club’s supporters as a serious stumbling block towards progress, but his main concern is the lack of sufficient funding – a situation that has a negative effect on the team’s performance as the club was compelled to survive on the league’s monthly grant of N$20,000.
“That money is not enough to sustain a team in top flight football considering the amount of travelling we have to endure and all other expenses, and to compound matters supporters don’t rally behind the team when results are patchy on the pitch.”
However, the 45-year old mentor says it is pointless to cry over spilt milk and urges the team’s supporters to regroup and come up with a comprehensive “blueprint” to rekindle the legacy of one of Namibia’s most successful football clubs.
“We need to come up with workable solutions and have a good management with sustainable structures in place that have the potential to steer the club into a more professional entity. There is an urgent need to recruit quality players who understand the culture of this club, and we also need to embark on an aggressive campaign to lure our supporters back if we are to make a quick return to top flight football.”