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Football in a state of emergency

11 November 2016
Namibian football has reached a stage where it is hanging on for dear life, and the confusion which surrounds the sport has become comical.
After independence, the Brave Warriors built a fortress at the Independence Stadium conquering many African giants including South Africa.
The national team also earned some respect by troubling African giants - Ivory Coast and Angola - at the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations. The respect earned birthed household names like Johannes “Congo” Hindjou, Lolo Goraseb and Ronny Kananelo.
The team had many players plying their trade overseas. The likes of Robert Nauseb and Mohammed Ouseb were first choice selections for Kaizer Chiefs, while Ricardo Mannetti never missed a match for Cape Town outfit, Santos.
Eliphas Shivute was a key player for Scottish title contenders, Hearts, while Collin Benjamin was flying the Namibian flag high in the UEFA Champions League with German club, FC Hamburg.
Fast-forward a decade and a half later, and Namibian football needs a lifeline. The ironic thing about the depressing state of Namibian football is that it comes after Namibia enjoyed its finest hour. 
It comes after Namibian supporters were almost delusional after the famous 2-0 victory in the 2015 COSAFA Castle Cup over Mozambique in South Africa which gave birth to new heroes and new expectations.
Prior to that, the country hosted the African Women’s Football Championships which were well attended and saw Tura Magic star Zenatha Coleman shortlisted for the 2014 Confederation of African Football (CAF) Women Footballer of the Year award. Coleman now plays for Luthianian club Gintra Universitetas.
An ironic turn of events has since transpired after this. A full strength Brave Warriors team failed to make an impression at the 2016 COSAFA Cup, which was hosted in the country even though they were playing against teams which brought their second and third teams.
The Namibian team was toothless in both the 2018 World Cup qualifiers as well as the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Looking at the local scene and specifically the Namibian Premier League things look even bleaker.
Namibian club football has only seen two competitions this season. The first was the Dr Hage Geingob Cup which witnessed African Champions Mamelodi Sundowns emerge victorious over Namibian league champions Tigers. The second was the Standard Bank sponsored Super Cup, which African Stars won 3-0 over Tigers.
The 2015/16 Namibian Premier League awards ceremony was initially cancelled at the eleventh hour and was later hastily held. It was a ceremony to forget and it did not do justice to the league champions Tigers who had waited for more than three decades to win the league title again.
Players from various clubs have complained about not receiving their salaries on time. The situation has reached a point where Orlando Pirates players dragged their club to court seeking relief.
The whole world is in a difficult time financially, but football is also an important career just like any other career as it is a means for some to put food on the table.
The recently announced 2016/2017 mid-term budget review did not help the desperate situation in Namibian football as the ministry of sport’s already meagre funds were cut even further.
With no prioritisation, the game is slowly, but surely heading towards a painful death. Despite youngsters like Deon Hotto, Peter Shalulile and Wangu Gome having emerged as the future of the Brave Warriors, there is no visible and deliberate youth system which grooms youngsters from a tender age.
Brilliant African teams like Nigeria and Ivory Coast are successful due to their emphasis on developing young players. It is more common to find youngsters catching up with the latest gadgets and social media conversations instead of kicking a ball on the streets.
There is the promise that the Namibian Premier League might kick off in February 2017, which means local players have limited opportunities to prove themselves to coach, Ricardo Mannetti for national team selection.
Namibian football has hit a new all-time low. The game needs salvation. Soccer in Namibia needs to be seriously revamped.

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