Windhoek-President Hage Geingob on Friday confirmed that despite the dire state of football in the country, which saw the domestic league not kicking off for the new season, no organised delegation had visited his office to seek help or propose the way forward.
Former Namibia Premier League (NPL) chairman Johnny ‘JJD’ Doeseb, who threw in the towel recently by announcing his resignation from the embattled body, attempted to see the President but through unorthodox means, Geingob told New Era.
“He wanted to see me without first going to or through the minister of sport. It doesn’t work like that. And to make matters worse, he sent his request for a meeting through another person, a third party. This doesn’t show seriousness,” the President said.
The Head of State also said that former league sponsors, MTC, which is majority-owned by the government, also did not inform government of its intention to withdraw its N$15 million league sponsorship, an abrupt decision that was announced shortly before the new season kicked off.
“MTC didn’t consult us. I’d like to know why they withdrew. Nobody came to see me. Every comment I have made about the state of football in the country is from my own observations and not because anyone has spoken to me about it,” he noted.
When he met ministers individually early this year, Geingob said, both the Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service, Jerry Ekandjo, and Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila confirmed that no organised delegation of football chiefs had met them to discuss the state of the local league.
“How do you expect us to take you seriously when, even with our open-door policy, no one has come to see us and really show us the seriousness of the situation?” Geingob wanted to know.
“I’m disappointed by the state of football. I lived in Zambia where people really love football. It’s unfortunate that we are going through this.”
The national budget tabled recently by Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein showed that the allocation to the sports ministry, which oversees over 50 sports codes nationally, has been cut by N$100 million to approximately N$385 million for the financial year ahead.
Pundits have described the decision as insensitive to the status of football in the country, saying it does not display the government’s seriousness towards the situation.
“It’s not a punishment, this is a serious situation. We are cutting the budget, and football is not the only priority in the country,” he said, adding that the government’s commitment to youth development is testified by the massive injection into education.
The President said he wants to see constant changing of the guard in football, adding that some administrators have overstayed their welcome.
“Issa Hayatou was voted out this week [last week] as CAF president. We need to see the same in local football from time to time. Politicians do change, so what is special about local football administrators?” Geingob, who accompanied the senior national football team to Burkina Faso during the 1998 African Cup of Nations tournament, asked.