One of Namibia’s young rising football stars, Ennio Hamutenya (EH) continues to hog headlines in the Maltese Premier League and judging from his current rich vein of form, the 18-year-old youngster is definitely destined for greater things. New Era Sport’s Otniel Hembapu (OH) sat with him and this is what he had to share.
OH: So tell me a bit about your background, especially how you started off and what inspired you as a young footballer?
EM: Becoming a professional footballer was always my dream. Since the age of 6 or 7, I was a football-crazy little boy that wanted to play the game and also have a basic understanding of this beautiful sport. As a little boy, I always told my family, friends and everybody around me that I would one day become a professional footballer playing for a top club in Europe. And a very big and special thanks goes to my father for always supporting me and making me realise that through hard work, focus and discipline anything can be achieved.
OH: Now here you are a few years down the line playing for a top club in the Maltese Premier League. How would you describe the experience and exposure that you have gained playing in one of the world’s fast growing leagues?
EM: So far my experience in the Maltese Premier League has truly been a dream come true. I’ve signed a contract with Valletta FC – one of the biggest and most respected clubs in the country – which is a blessing for me and my career. Valletta is a big club with UEFA Champions League history, but I have been loaned out to Naxxar Lions for four months. Naxxar Lions is also a big club in the Maltese premiership, equally with a rich history. The exposure gained and professionalism learned playing for such a huge club is invaluable.
The aim behind Valletta’s move of loaning me out to Naxxar Lions was for me to get full game time, to grow as a player and since the loan move, I’ve started every match that I’ve been available to play and that has really given me great match experience and upped my level, which is something I wanted.
OH: Sounds quite exciting, but apart from a football perspective, would you also say you have grown personally and professionally?
EM: Yes, very much! I have grown personally and professionally. As my coach always says, one of my strongest attributes is my leadership qualities on and off the field, so that speaks volumes in terms of my growth personally and professionally. Being around and playing with high-profile players at my parent club Valletta and also at my loan club, Naxxar Lions, really taught me a lot on how best to be a professional. I always want to be the first to arrive at training and the last to leave. Always smiling, remaining positive and when it is time to work, it’s time to work. Be respectful to all the staff and players and always give your best. Most important, be mentally strong – this is a major key in professional football.
OH: We have been following your progress and I really have to say we as Namibians, or at least the local football fraternity, are quite impressed. Has the thought of playing for the Brave Warriors ever crossed your mind? And would you consider playing for the national team should you get a call-up?
EM: Yes indeed! For every young footballer, playing for your national team is a dream come true and an honour. I would really love to play for my country, and oh!, in fact I plan to captain the Brave Warriors one day.
OH: I know that you don’t really get much time to closely follow football activities here back home, but what is your overall opinion of the standard of Namibian football? Especially our premier league?
EM: I’ve never personally played football for any club in the Namibian premier league, so I would not know much but as a Namibian I think there is quite sufficient growth in general, and individually there is a lot of talent in our country. What I think lacks many a time is dedication, mentality, belief and also opportunity.
OH: You have an equally talented brother, Miguel, who also plays at the highest level. How would you describe your relationship with your brother and how do you guys inspire each other football-wise?
EM: My brother is my best friend and our relationship is really so perfect. We get along really well and always want the best for each other as footballers and as brothers. We both are very competitive and always want to be the best at what we do.
OH: Now that you are a fully-fledged professional footballer, where do you see yourself in ten years?
EM: Now I’m 18 turning 19, so in 10 years’ time I’ll be 29 coming to the end of my career and by the grace of God playing in one of the top-flight leagues in the world, and retiring from there to focus on business, as you can only play football for a certain number of years.
OH: Any last words to your fans worldwide, especially to those here at home?
EM: I hope to be a example to many, especially to those at home. The youth should believe in their dreams. I’ve shown it’s possible to achieve your dreams so why can’t others? If you put your mind to it, dedicate yourself, work as hard as you can, be focused, disciplined and love/enjoy what you do – you can achieve anything. Thank you to everyone who has shown support; I will continue to raise my country’s flag high. Proudly Namibian!