Namibia: Certified Kordom Instils Hope

"Dreams really come true," says Brave Gladiator Annouscka Kordom.

However, unlocking your dream requires sacrifice, perseverance and a helping hand.

No sooner had she obtained her degree in sports and marketing management from the Corban University, than Kordom set out on her next adventure - to make a difference by assisting others get opportunities similar to what she had received.

The America-based footballer launched the Hope Foundation, a non-profit organisation geared towards the development of women's grassroots football in Namibia.

"It is the beginning of many projects I'm working on," Kordom said in an interview with The Namibian Sport.

She speaks passionately about this next chapter of her life, given that it inspired her journey to success.

"This is something near and dear to my heart and I'm so excited to finally share it and it to be out there," she said of the project which has been four years in the making.

"I wanted to make something of my life. I consider myself blessed and privileged to have had the opportunities I've had.

"There are so many that want to go to school but can't, so many that want to play but they can't. I can do both. Wasting an opportunity would be a slap in the face for them. I do this for the underprivileged and for those that believe in me. I want to make them proud," Kordom enthused.

Her selflessness will no doubt earn her a place in the history of Namibian heroines. But the 22 year-old would not be in a position to assist others today, had she not made the most of a scholarship at one of the top private universities in United States enabling her to pursue her studies and a football career simultaneously.

"I've always said that I wanted to continue to play and study after high school and for that to finally look like reality was something my mind could not comprehend. I actually only believed it to be true while I was boarding the plane, unreal experience to be honest," she narrated.

When Kordom left on her American sojourn in 2015, she had not imagined a metamorphosis of this magnitude.

A timely acquaintance with a local and Corban's nurturing environment made assimilating abroad smooth, while she never lost track of her primary goal.

"My experience here has been great. I've always been taken care of," she said.

"Corban has been amazing. They have an awesome community and amazing professors. I've never felt out of place being here.

"The last four seasons with the Warriors has brought an immense amount of growth. I'm extremely thankful for everything that's happened. This scholarship has truly been a blessing," she continued.

"The first couple of months were a culture shock. Namibians and Americans are so different. In the beginning, communication was the biggest challenge.

"The way we speak and understand things is different from how they speak and understand things. It didn't take long to break that barrier though. My teammates helped me understand America."

THE UNIMAGINABLE

Striking a balance between school work and playing football is not that hard, Kordom said. Discipline and shrewd time management eventually allows you to march to the beat of your own drum.

"Balance was also something I found difficult. I was a full-time student, part-time employee and a full-time footballer. With all these commitments, I had an inconsistent sleeping pattern. I struggled a lot my first year," she detailed.

It also helps your cause if you have an insatiable work ethic and single minded approach to realising one's ambition like Kordom.

"I had to sacrifice a lot of my social activities because as much as I wanted to be a 'normal' university student, I wasn't. I somehow found the balance and as soon as I did, things flowed smoothly.

"I used tools to help me stay on task though. I had three different calendars. One for my day-to-day activities, one for my weekly assignments and a monthly calendar to have a better view of what's coming up. I also had friends and family to hold me accountable and that made this experience so much easier."

Raised by a single mother, Ingrid Kordom, she says things were not always easy for them, a reality that fuels her push for excellence.

Kordom is a reference point that sports and academic aspirations are not only possible but relatively easy to achieve if you put your mind to it.

"Education is very important. This is something that should always be taken seriously. For me, both football and education are of equal importance. I didn't want to give up on either, so I made sure to put equal effort into both," she said.

"I would always read how people think sports would negatively affect student's grades and although that might be true, it is not always the case. As long as you have people to hold you accountable, to encourage you, help you, believe in you, you can achieve the unimaginable," advised the Brave Gladiators midfielder.

"The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday. Everyday is a new opportunity and brings about new challenges. Do better to be better. Yesterday doesn't matter."

Kordom is not the first or only Namibian sports star to study for a degree while playing. But she is the first to venture into philanthropy.

She is among a growing list of Namibian footballers debunking the notion that they lack the fortitude to venture far from home and their comfort zones to enhance their careers.

CELEBRATION

Fellow Brave Gladiators Lovisa Mulunga, Lydiana Nanamus and Germany-based Veweziwa Kotjipati are other notable examples of doubling up school and sports.

"I personally believe sports makes you a better student. Take football for example, it puts you face-to-face with many different situations," she explained.

"It basically makes you more comfortable to where you can handle any and every situation. It's a character builder. You just have to find a balance between the two. Use resources like parents, friends, mentors or coaches to help you find your balance."

Kordom graduated with a Bachelor's degree in business with a focus on marketing and sports management.

"I intend to keep studying. I dream big. I actually want to get a Master of Science in Sports Marketing or Master of Arts in Sports Leadership and a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Non-Profit Organization," said Kordom, who counts on photography and videography among other passions.

Her achievements are being celebrated in her native settlement of Riemvasmaak in neighbouring South Africa as much as in Namibia, she said. Her family was "ecstatic" when she graduated and wait longingly for her return.

"America's good, nothing beats home though. Being here has made me appreciate my country and my people a whole lot more. I've been treated well and I'm happy here nonetheless," said Kordom.

"Within my immediate family I'm a first generation graduate so it's extra special. I have a big extended family though, and they've all played a part in me coming this far and I'm looking forward to celebrating this achievement with them soon," she said.

Academic excellence aside, she dreams of turning out for English giants Manchester United, a club whose fortunes she has followed closely for as long as she can remember and playing alongside American household name Julie Ertz who has over 100 caps for her country.

"She's my role model. If I could have 5% of her ability, I'd be happy. I would love to play against Rose Lavelle [also American], mostly just for her to embarrass me and me to admire her awesomeness. The women's game is full of so many stars, so many I admire and look up to. Playing against any and everyone is a blessing and an opportunity to learn.

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