Contrasting views on NPL football hiatus
By Jeremiah Ndjoze
WINDHOEK – What is good for the goose is not always good for the gander, at least not when Namibian football politics comes into play.
This revelation came to the fore this week amid The Southern Times enquiry on how some of Namibia’s top flight football clubs are whiling away their time in the absence of competitive football in the country.
When some teams are lamenting the demise of the league, citing its negative impacts on their developmental agendas – others are using the break in the country’s footballing activities to divert their energies into other developmental aspects of the teams, which would have otherwise taken the back burner in the presence of competitive football.
The Namibian Premier League (NPL) has run into an indefinite hiatus following the conclusion of the 2015/16 season, due to lack of sponsorships to meet the leagues financial requirement of R24 million per season.
It has now emerged that for some clubs the interruption did not only negatively impact the players, most of whom are now broke, but has become a major source of inconvenience for the clubs’ respective developmental endeavors.
The absence of the league is negatively impacting many Namibian football clubs, because these clubs have been heavily dependent on handouts from the NPL as their main income stream. With the current drought in the NPL’s coffers, many clubs’ developmental projects are hanging in the balance.
Doom and gloom
One of the affected clubs is African Stars, whose proposed memorabilia shop remains closed for business due to inaction on the pitch and relentless politicking at soccer house – Namibia Football Association (NFA).
The club acquired and branded, almost a year ago, a shop at Windhoek’s B1 City Mall along Independence Avenue opposite the Katutura State Hospital.
African Stars Chief Executive Officer, Lesley Kozonguizi confirmed that the delay in opening the shop is as a result of the dormant league.
“The shop is not open for business because there is currently no football in the country. The idea behind the creation of the shop was to provide the supporters with club memorabilia, replica jersey and anything that they can use at matches in support of the team.” Kozonguizi stressed maintaining that in the absence of a competitive soccer league, it is highly unlikely that the fans will spend their money on such merchandise.
As a result, Kozonguizi revealed, that the club was left with no choice but to sublet the premises to other corporate entities as such freeing the club from the R9,000 rental bill per month.
Donelly Nell, Director and Head Coach at Civics SC told The Southern Times that the current state of affairs in local football has particularly hit his players hard.
“Our players are gravely affected by the situation in that not only are they getting off form due to the league inaction but they have now lost out on the income that they would have otherwise made as part of their contract,” he said.
“We are only paying those players that we are using in the ongoing cup competition – per game, the rest have to wait until we activate the payroll and that will be when the league resumes,” Nell added.
The brighter side
But while the management at Stars is seemingly wallowing in NPL’s shenanigans – across town – the folks at the offices of the leagues defending champions, Tigers are seeing this interval in a whole different light. Tigers spokesperson, Hafeni Hiveluah told The Southern Times that instead of keeping the eyes on the road as when the league will get underway, the club has decided to spend the time on getting its ‘house in order.’ The club is doing ‘some serious’ retrospection, Hiveluah said.
“We are currently reviving our technical team bringing in new faces to complement the efforts of our head coach (Brian Isaacks),” Hiveluah said further revealing that the club’s executive committee is also set for a major facelift.
“The whole idea is for the club to build on the success that we had last season. So we are actually using this time to strengthen the foundation of the team. We are also putting more effort in our netball team which in the past has taken the back burner in the presence of competitive football,” Hiveluah said.
As if that is not enough, plans are currently underway for the hosting of the team’s 90th anniversary later this year.
“We have already engaged with our supporters and plans are underway for the hosting of the event,” Hiveluah maintained.