Windhoek-All the hullabaloo of the last couple of months was finally put to bed yesterday when the country’s football heavyweights were summoned to State House for a hastily assembled session under the stewardship of President Hage Geingob.
The gathering, which was attended by high profile dignitaries and sport personalities, dealt primarily with the prolonged sponsorship feud between the Namibia Premiership (NPL) and its estranged partners, MTC, which has left hundreds of young footballers jobless and aimlessly roaming the streets.
The Office of the President has been bombarded with calls and pleas requesting high-level intervention from the Namibian Head of State, prompting the Namibian Commander-in-Chief to engage the affected parties and other stakeholders.
Geingob made it categorically clear yesterday that there has been a misplaced perception with regard to his role as patron of the country’s football presiding body, the Namibia Football Association (NFA).
“My role is merely a ceremonial one. It does not require interference in the internal affairs of football. After all, that’s very much against FIFA statutes and such an exercise could ultimately lead to suspension,” he observed.
Geingob’s intervention appeared to pressure MTC into making a U-turn on its earlier position, this after the giant mobile telecommunications institution insisted it has no further business with the financially vulnerable NPL.
He recalled an emotive incident on NBC’s weekly ‘Soccer Pitch’ live show last week when a teary-eyed Tigers player, Rehabeam Mbango, a student at the Namibia University of Science and Technology, spoke of his ordeal and how the absence of organised football in the country has left him penniless and unable to provide for his younger siblings.
The president remains steadfast in his stance that nobody from the organised football structures had directly brought the issue to his attention, apart from hearsay and rumours.
Nonetheless, the portfolio minister – through instructions from the president – established an independent committee to review the chronic financial difficulties within the annals of domestic sport, football in particular.
The newly established task force, under the guidance of former commissioner Amos ‘the Rock of Gibraltar’ Shiyuka and retired softball player Elize Peterson wasted little time in getting their ducks in a row.
“Our mandate is not only confined to football. There are eight or ten mainstream sporting disciplines, but we felt obliged to start with football, because it’s in a critical position. It was resolved to engage representatives of the NPL interim committee to look at ways and mechanisms that can be put in place for proper governance,” Shiyuka explained.
The former Brave Warriors and Civics defender emphasised the importance of introducing categories for various sports codes. “Our yearly sports budget is not sufficient to sustain all the national sports codes,” he said.
Shiyuka added that the categorisation of sporting codes would give the task force proper guidelines on how to distribute resources, as certain disciplines add little value to justify the amounts of money they receive from the NSC.
MTC board chairman Elvis Nashilongo reiterated his company’s commitment towards the upliftment of sports in the country in general, but was quick to caution would-be partners about their conduct in terms of corporate governance.
“The value of the MTC brand is of utmost importance to us – hence our expectation from the leadership of football to exercise accountability at all times, because we would not want our brand to be dragged through the mud.”
Nashilongo said the door is not completely closed, adding that MTC is wiling to engage in renewed negotiations with the NPL interim committee on the proviso that the football hierarchy gets its house in order.
“We will be proud to be associated with football again and will continue to engage with the NPL ad hoc committee and I must applaud the NPL interim committee for the mature manner in which they have approached us to activate negotiations,” Nashilongo said.