16 November 2018

Namibia: NFA Is Dancing With a Cobra

"No one should engage in this 'dance with the rattlesnake', where the initial moves may be very pleasant, but in the end, when the snake has bitten, it becomes lethal," said finance minister Calle Schlettwein when the government finally decided to admit that Namibia was broke.

Namibia Football Association (NFA) executive committee members would be well advised to heed that warning if they have the interest of the soccer players and supporters at heart.

For some inexplicable reason, the NFA executive committee continues to dance with what may very well be likened to cobras in the form of its president and secretary general.

The executive (consisting of vice president Naftal Ngalangi, second VP Ludwig Crooks Nunuheb, and ordinary members Roger Kambatuku, Alma Mupupa, Shali Amakali, Oscar Mulonda, Jacob Aindongo, Mpasi Haingura, Johnny Doëseb and Stefanus Shimbike) may have done well to remove their president, Frans Mbidi, but why continue to dance with Barry Rukoro, who is actually the perennial poison in Namibian football?

Was it really fair to sacrifice Namibia's participation in Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations 2019 qualification and possibly the Olympic Games in 2020 on the altar of Mbidi and Rukoro?

This week's withdrawal of the u23 national team from the continental tournament must surely be the last straw that broke the camel's back. Yet, Namibians outside of the NFA executive committee should not hold their breath. For some reason, that executive committee remains and is likely to continue being beholden to Rukoro for many years to come, as has been the case since 2006.

Only they know for sure what Rukoro gives.

Sadly, this is not the first time the under-23 team has suffered because of administrative bungling and incompetence. In 2014, the NFA failed to submit its application on time with the Confederation of African Football (Caf) for the Young Warriors to compete in the 2015 African championship, which also offered a route to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The constant figure throughout football's mismanagement is known to all who can take decisions. Yet, nothing is being done.

For the past several years, NFA squabbles have killed club competitions, leading the Brave Warriors to compete on the international stage with no domestic league matches.

It is a miracle that Namibia won the 2015 Cosafa Cup, despite the dysfunctional NFA.

Grassroots soccer at club level is forgotten. Second division league winners often do not get the already meagre ceremonial prizes. Yet, the NFA executive and administrators continue globe-trotting and sleeping in luxury accommodation 'as per the international football standards'. Such standards are never applied in the actual administration of the beautiful game.

At the core, the fights are petty -- never about programmes and ideas to improve Namibian soccer. Executive committee members often complain that Mbidi does not share 'presidential trips', which guarantee handsome S&T. Mbidi was part of the Rukoro camp, but egos and failure to 'eat together' led to his excommunication.

The NFA chief administrator seems to have a hold on regional football executives, who repay him time and again with contract renewals and extensions, despite the virtual collapse of the organisation.

NFA executive committee members don't even seem to realise that most Namibians have lost faith in the secretariat. Women's football has struggled to get traction, despite an eagerness from the grass roots. Hopefully, the latest Skorpion Zinc sponsorship will not be rendered ineffective by the cohort at Soccer House.

Too often, women have been ill-prepared for national team matches, and struggle hopelessly to compete against better managed rivals.

An urgent overhaul of football administration is required. Our youth should not be left at the mercy of these greedy officials.

Those with voting powers need to consult their conscience and let players' livelihoods benefit from the booming and highly lucrative industry spanning from football in neighbouring South Africa to far afield.

Perhaps it is time Namibians themselves, including this institution, which has been funding The Namibian Newspaper Cup for 18 years, take steps to stop the rot by refusing to dance with snakes. The executive committee members have shown they are unable to rein in their errant administrators.


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