It was all glitz and glamour at the official opening of the newly constructed NFA Girls Centre in the capital yesterday.
The centre, constructed on the Namibia Football Association (NFA) premises, aims to provide a safe space for girls to thrive through football.
The Girls Centre consists of a gym, three offices, coaches’ rooms, three conference rooms, dining rooms, a kitchen and two lounges, amongst others, for the integration of the girl-child through promotion of health and life-skills.
Various distinguished speakers at yesterday’s inauguration ceremony called on the girls to take activities at the centre seriously and to learn as much as they can, with the aim of becoming resourceful and useful members of society.
Deputy Minister of Youth and Sport Agnes Tjongarero said the opening of the Centre is historic, as it offers protection to the girls that will use it.
“On behalf of the Namibian government we are very grateful for this centre and I urge the NFA and other partners to ensure that this centre does not become a white elephant. Girls, you are now ambassadors of the government, the NFA and our German partners, and you should behave as such and grab the opportunity to be here to change your lives.”
Tjongarero added that the centre would offer access to life-skills, protection from social stereotypes about girls who play football, and ultimately improve the Gladiators’ performance.
German Ambassador to Namibia, Christian Schlaga also emphasised the importance of the new centre.
“The girls will start here and be ready to play for the Brave Gladiators. This project is part of the Sustainable Development for a Democratic Namibia initiative of Germany. Germany has spent over EUR 800 million (N$14.07 billion) in 26 years in cooperation with Namibia, and the Namibian youth remains the foundation of our cooperation,” Schlaga said.
NFA president Frans Mbidi spoke about football’s ability to empower.
“Football boosts confidence, determination and self-control, and the game makes the girls visible and leads to better social integration.”
German Football Federation acting president Dr Rainer Koch also spoke about the power of football in society.
“Football is hope and this centre will provide girls with education and protection from socio-economic problems. Let the girls play,” he enthused.
Also at the opening of the centre were Namibia’s Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maureen Hinda, NFA honorary president John Muinjo, Roland Lindenthal, head of the Division for Education and Digital World at the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, as well as the president of Westphalia Football and Athletics Association, Hermann Korfmacher.
The German Government mandated the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to conduct the sector programme: ‘Sport for Development in Namibia’.
On March 17, 2014, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with the aim of empowering girls and young women through sport. Through this MoU, a Girls’ Centre has been constructed for the purpose of creating safe spaces for girls and young women.
The signatories to the MoU include the Ministry of Sports, Youth and National Service, the NFA, the German Football Association, the Football and Athletics Association of Westphalia, and GIZ, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.