Namibian football at a crossroads

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The Namibian domestic football community has for the past eight to nine months been starved and denied of an active formal football league.

Recent developments at the Namibia Premier League (NPL) offices could perhaps set it in a totally new positive direction.

With expectations already high from all concerned, it is only correct especially for the benefit of the players that things are set right from the start in order for what has transpired to never, ever happen again.

However and sadly so, history has shown that significant leadership changes anywhere in the world are not always easily embraced, but in this critical case and situation perhaps the means justified the ends.

We can only hope and wish that the interim leadership committee puts the NPL house in order for the benefit of all concerned stakeholders.

With that said, there is certainly hope on the horizon for our domestic football community provided that those appointed to lead the organisation, whether for the short or medium-term, put their differences aside and work professionally together to not only have active domestic football activities back in place but that a conducive football development environment is created.

This will be beneficial for the players, the respective supporters of their teams and corporate sponsors.

The recent mass resignation decision by the top brass of the NPL leadership has without a doubt set in motion an important opportunity for the potential improvement and development of all formal domestic football activities in the country.

These new developments as are currently unfolding at the NPL, are therefore hopefully without a doubt aimed to sincerely safeguard the integrity and to unleash the true economic potential of the long term domestic value of a sports code that is already a worldwide success story.

In retrospect, this new development at NPL is hence in part caused by the tremendous pressure from various internal and external forces for a new and dynamic leadership to take over the helm to perhaps bring about the much needed fresh air and the necessary changes for the betterment and progress of the beautiful game of football in Namibia.

This positive development will therefore with time either propel the domestic football league to exciting new heights, or if not handled properly due to potential internal squabbles and misplaced leadership positions could further push the game down south to the detriment of all those that will be directly affected.

This is therefore, an opportune time for sober but professional minds to be appointed and applied to undertake a proper domestic football analysis and assessment.

The analysis could determine the true value, appropriate systems and processes that are needed to improve on our local conditions and at the same time put us on par with the international best practice.

This will elevate our domestic football activities to their rightful levels for the true benefit of all concerned stakeholders.

Anything to the contrary will unfortunately be a total waste of time and a true confirmation that our domestic football and sport in general will remain static due to a lack of appropriate knowledge to propel it further than where it is.

These top leadership changes at the NPL were definitely inevitable and it was just a matter of time before the direct stakeholders (the clubs) either pushed the previous leadership out of office through a vote of no confidence, or they resign voluntarily to enable the game to move forward for the benefit of its direct and indirect stakeholders.

However, and contrary to popular belief, the NPL has only for the past year or so been dogged by basic but significant internal and external challenges which to a large extent were largely caused by their sudden unprofessional and un-procedural request for additional funding from their main sponsor MTC.

This request at the time seemed normal until MTC gave the NPL’s previous leadership tough conditions to meet before a certain due date to receive the additional required amount.

The consequence of failure to meet the conditions would result in the complete withdrawal of their sponsorship package.

This unachieved tall order from MTC then sent the domestic league preparations into complete disarray, exposing and sending the then chairman and his leadership team on a wild goose chase into a hostile private and public commercial environment with little to no success to show for it. The rest as they say, is history.

At this juncture and going forward, the NPL as a sports organisation has the full potential to professionalise domestic football in all its facets.

The country is awash with plenty of financial resources from various sectors such as the mining, banking, retail, construction and fishing sectors.

This means that if they develop and effectively present bankable proposals it could lead to dramatic and rewarding changes for the benefit and development of the game of domestic football in Namibia.

Just recently, the nation was informed that Namdeb sold diamonds to the value of N$11 billion and in addition, the banking sectors proudly announced the billion dollar profits they made from the domestic consumers.

These are just two sectors to mention among many others, which if approached professionally could unlock tremendous investment potential into the game.

Football is a global brand and if led and packaged appropriately could unleash untold economic and social enhancement potentials.

In the long run, they could contribute to the success of the Brave Warriors, which in return would put Namibia on the map as a successful soccer tourism nation.

Therefore, with the right leadership in place; with a clear vision and objective and with an efficient and effective organisational structures and the necessary drive and passion, this new development at NPL could be the beginning of bigger and better things to come.

However, the new committee should going forward be highly cognizant of the fact that the sole reliance on a single dominant sponsor is extremely dangerous, meaning that they should seek a wider pool of sponsors to ensure the medium to long-term sustainability and survival of the game for all concerned.

* Pendapala Hangala is a Namibian Socio-Economist

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