Namibia’s commercial city Windhoek’s luxurious hub, the Hilton Hotel, will be a hive of activity when the Namibia Football Players Union (NAFPU) hosts the much-anticipated Division Africa Congress, which gets underway tomorrow morning.
The gathering will be graced by retired African football greats such as former Bayern Munich fullback and Ghanaian international Sammy Kuffour, Jeremy Njitab (Cameroon) and Brave Warriors title-winning skipper Stigga Ketjijere, among a dozen other high-profile personalities.
The two-day event will deliberate on the thorny issue of footballers’ status with unions on the African continent and take stock of progress made so far as well as map the way forward.
An excited president of NAFPU, former Brave Warriors’ dribbling wizard Lolo Goraseb, expressed satisfaction with the progress made by the union since its long overdue establishment in 2008.
He says there has been a wind of change in the mentality of local clubs, who previously showed resistance to engage with the union on players’ grievances.
“This is the most appropriate time, we have just completed the constitutional review of the country’s flagship league, NPL. We touched on the status review that would allow us to put legal instruments in place thus obliging NPL clubs to voluntarily recognise the union including its designated functions.”
Goraseb says the union’s tortoise pace approach was a result of the conspicuous absence of a collective bargaining agreement with the NPL and its affiliates. “There was no legal framework in place and that scenario hampered our progress.”
New Era Sport has established that the NPL Statutes Review Committee has undertaken to call into life the long properly constituted competent Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) under the jurisdiction of the NFA.
It also resolved to appoint a competent independent NPL disciplinary committee to deal with disputes. “For us, that status has been reviewed in the best interest of players and from now onwards, we are going to deal with any disputes, contractual or unfair dismissals.”
Goraseb expressed serious concern over the current status quo in domestic football, citing the players’ lack of contractual understanding as a major challenge.
“As a union, we strongly discourage our members from rushing into signing contracts with their respective teams without being fully conversant with each and every detail in the contract.”
The former Black Africa attacking midfielder adds that the union would protect the interest of clubs should players be found in breach of their contractual obligations.
The portfolio Minister Jerry Ekandjo will be among the dignitaries at the opening ceremony this morning, while football heavyweights led by NFA President Frans Mbidi, Johnny “JJD” Doeseb (NPL Chairman) and several captains of industry would also be in attendance.