Namibia must benefit from China’s football revolution

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China is Namibia’s best friend. Since gaining power in 2012 Chinese President Xi Jinping has made reforming Chinese football one of his top priorities. In fact we have seen world-class footballers moving to China in recent months – a sign of the rising power of Chinese football.

The bigger plan is to make China one of the world’s top football nations by 2050. The Chinese government is even encouraging more state and private investment with the vision to double the size of the Chinese sporting economy by 2025 unlike us here in Namibia who want to reverse sports. However, Chinese leaders have always been strategists from Sun Tzu to Chairman Mao and now Xi Jinping. Every previous and current Chinese leader had/have a vision of clear objectives for their own people at the point of taking charge.

Coming back to China and Namibia’s healthy and steady relationship which can be confirmed by the establishment of diplomatic relations on March 22, 1990, just one day after Namibia gained its independence, surely the majority of Namibians are yet to enjoy maximum benefits from this friendship apart from those few selected children of top government officials who got Chinese sponsored bursaries to study in China a few years ago. Maybe now our beef has finally found its way onto the Chinese retail shelves, but still we have just given the Chinese every dollar we had in our kitty. Our procurement system has over the past 26 years given almost every tender to the Chinese.

Awarding of tenders came to a halt last year and now some Chinese friends have turned to our wildlife. Now we mainly see our friends from the East on TV and in newspapers almost every month when they appear in our courts on wildlife related and other criminal cases.

However this author read in the media recently that our president, H.E. Dr Hage G. Geingob, is a big fan of football. It is hence this author and maybe other Namibians’ dream too that with the facilitation of our new ambassador to China Dr Elia Kaiyamo we will have as many Namibian footballers playing soccer in the Chinese Super League as possible, joining big stars like Carlos Teves, Oscar, Ramirez, Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel and of recent 2017 Afcon best player Cameroon’s winger Christian Bassogog.

Namibians would surely want to see Benyamin Nenkavu, Deon Hotto, Absalom Iimbondi, Petrus Shitembi, Oswaldo Xamseb and many others playing football and earning big money there in Beijing, so that Namibia gets some sort of refund of our billions of dollars that went to China through tenders. This author even suggests that for every tender our procurement tender boards will from now on award to a Chinese firm, 10 Namibian footballers must jet off to Beijing. And for every wildlife or tax evasion criminal case reported involving a Chinese national, let 20 Namibian footballers fly to China. Let the aim be to have 100 players playing football in the Chinese Super League by 2020.

And If Namibians’ memories remind them well, former Namibian soccer star Eliphas ‘Safile’ Shivute was the first and probably the last son of the soil to have landed a lucrative deal with Shengzen Football Club in the Chinese premier league in the late 90s.

So this author believes that it is in every Namibian’s interest to have Namibia and China continue to enjoy a good, more healthier bilateral relationship. Indeed a genuine bilateral relationship and having the same number of Namibians in China as we have Chinese in Namibia is very much possible in our lifetime, but even more possible in the Harambee era. So dear advisors in the Namibian Presidency who are reading this opinion piece, please do the right thing and pass this on to our president and also to the Namibian ambassador to China.
Indileni Set Sam Iipinge

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