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My candid view - A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

2022-08-12  Otniel Hembapu

My candid view - A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

This week, chairperson of the Fifa-appointed Normalisation Committee for the Namibia Football Association (NFA) Bisey /Uirab shared with all NFA affiliates and the general public that premiership football activities will only return once a sponsor or sufficient funding is secured. 

Uirab further shared that they (normalisation committee) have been hard at work knocking on the doors and windows of corporate Namibia, but ‘Lady Luck’, however, continues to give them the cold shoulder as no sponsor has shown interest in wanting to invest their hard-earned money in local football. 

To make a long story short, /Uirab honestly told us that elite football will only return when and once adequate money or sponsors are secured – and not this month or next month as the NFA had earlier signalled. 

While I would like to applaud /Uirab and his committee members for their efforts and honesty, I must also hasten to warn them that it looks like the ship has hit an iceberg. The NFA’s efforts to seek and secure sponsorship for the country’s flagship leagues will take a while or at least longer than anticipated before we see the desired results. 

I know many will jump at the slightest opportunity to call me a prophet of doom, but let’s also be bold and honest enough with ourselves and understand that the NFA currently has no product to sell to potential sponsors. 

Let’s start with the NFA itself: This is an organisation that is currently chained to debts of over N$20 million and in no position to undertake further financial commitments to help start premiership football. 

Besides being on life-support through Fifa grants and unreliable government subsidies, the NFA has no other substantial revenue streams and is, therefore, in no position to babysit a premier league of whatever kind. 

The Namibia Premier Football League (NPFL), which was hastily created by the now-outmoded and disgraceful Progressive Forces under the pretext of the NFA to replace the Namibia Premier League (NPL), is a non starter and unmarketable. 

Even if the Normalisation Committee wants to market and sell the NPFL product to corporate Namibia, it will be very difficult for them to do so, because the novice league has no proven track record and no demonstrated financial record and credibility of having managed millions of dollars worth of sponsors’ money. 

To compound matters, the NPFL has never in its little history started and finished a season. As far as my recollection, the only thing the NPFL started was a transitional season, which they failed to finish. The transitional season was started with Fifa money and as soon as the money ran out, all activities were abandoned.

So, tell me; how does one go into a boardroom of a self-resting institution and market such a product? Also, tell me; how can one commercially use such a league as a proposition in an FNB, Standard Bank, Namibia Breweries or even MTC boardroom? You can’t, because there is nothing to show and nothing to market or sell to potential sponsors. 

On the other hand, you have the NPL, which was dubiously expelled by the NFA and has since become an independent entity now pursuing the fortunes of professional football. 

Before its expulsion, the NPL was a fully functioning league employing over 500 players and handling millions of dollars in sponsorship money. In fact, the NPL has a track record of almost 30 years of handling sponsorship money and successfully starting and concluding seasons. 

The NPL’s track record speaks for itself and is there for all to see and read about.

My advice to the Normalisation Committee is simple: Let’s be honest with ourselves and stop wasting time with the unmarketable and unsustainable NPFL and rather try to unite the two feuding sides. 

Once we have succeeded in doing so, take the already-established NPL brand and go look for money with it, as it is more marketable and resonates with almost all sponsors. What sponsors need right now is surety and a clear long-term vision. The NPL’s track record is enough to provide surety to any sponsor. Let’s just be bold enough and do the right thing. 

As Thomas Sankara once said: “It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today”. I say, Mr /Uirab and his team must not be afraid to be one of those madmen and dare to invent the future.

2022-08-12  Otniel Hembapu

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