New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Shooting From the Hip - the Dead Albatross Around Our Necks

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RECEIVING an unexpected call from my childhood buddy and longtime musical colleague Bra "Ta Less" Kozonguizi earlier this week was quite frightening. The brother dropped me a line to check on my wellbeing, because he was struggling to come to terms with wild rumours circulating about me having been shot in the hip on Friday, nogal. It turned out that some blokes either in their drunken stupor or rather inability to digest the queen's lingo mistook my weekly column "Shooting from the Hip" for an attack on my person.

It should be noted that this is not the first time something like this has cropped up. My beloved 'Kai-Namas', obviously having had one too many once rocked up at her mother's house (Gawie) with tears swelling in her reddish eyes shivering like a fired-up Boere Orkes, relating how "CK" was shot in the hip. Well, on a more serious note, it's about time we should know what to avoid because it's no use blaming those at the helm of Namibian sport - we made them what they are today - and now it's up to us to try and make ourselves - the makers of sports administrators - a little bit more responsible in the discharge of our duties.

It's obvious that those in charge of many of our sporting disciplines cannot be left to govern the game at their sole discretion. Something should be done! We have amassed more than enough evidence over the years, relating to the nagging and highly problematic and disturbing scenario that prevails and which accompanies the many unanswered questions to our queries as sports fans and which is no doubt worsened by a litany of lamentable failures as a result of maintaining a one-sided, myopic and uni-directional style of governance in local sports.

Yours truly can conceive nothing worse than a one-dimensional mentality and a culture that abhors novelty and innovation and shuns the future with all its limitless possibilities. Who are we kidding here? Our governance institutions have let us down. They have become moribund. We are weighed down by an albatross around our necks - the administration of sports in this country and its functionaries. How many times has yours truly used this platform again and again to prompt, to urge, to encourage, to goad and to plead with our administrators to adopt transparency and openness as our credo and to embrace change without fear.

Distinguished readers, yours truly has carefully chosen the above pretext to critically analyze the modus operandi of the revamped Namibia Football Association's oldest cup competition, the annual NFA Cup, which has been re-christened the Bidvest Namibia Cup. The format of the competition is totally outdated and unattractive, to say the least. NFA needs to knuckle down to some serious business and rethink its approach towards what is supposed to be the flagship knockout tournament of Namibian football and to move it in a more progressive direction.

One must give the NFA a pat on the back for bringing Bidvest Namibia on board with a massive sponsorship tumbling the N$20 million dollar mark over a period of three years - the first of its kind in the history of local sports. To start with, the NFA should without further ado and forthwith do away with the automatic qualification of the two relegated teams from the MTC Premier League in the last 32.

From the moment these teams are relegated, their status changes and they should under no circumstances enjoy any preferential treatment over their equals in the Southern and Northern Stream leagues - hence the automatic qualification of the two promoted teams. So what makes them special above their peers in the national second tier division? I'm just asking. Also, the NFA must allow non-league teams including those clubs plying their trade in the informal settlements or the so-called 'bush leagues' to pit their strengths against established opponents to make the game of football more accessible to everyone in the land of the brave!

I will be remiss in my duty if I do not humbly submit that it may be the right time to change the format and let teams compete in double legs (home and away), thus allowing local fans to watch their heroes showcase their God-given talents against the best opponents in the land. What could be more motivational than that for all lovers of the beautiful game in every neck of the woods, savannah and desert of this country? It can only serve to bring the best out of every aspiring footballer - after all, this is what the NFA Cup is all about or should be about.

Finally, the NFA must be generous enough and loosen its grip on the millions by forfeiting gate takings to the participating teams for their home matches, considering all participants are charged an entrance fee, or is it an exercise of robbing Peter to pay Paul? I'm just asking. Such a gesture would certainly give the permanently cash-stripped football clubs some sort of breathing space, enabling them to keep their heads above water in the current economic quagmire in which many sporting entities find themselves entangled. I rest my case.

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