For starters, what is futsal and how does it differ from football?
Futsal comes from the combination of Portuguese words: futbol and sala, which means football and hall. Basically, futsal is played on a 20x40m court, usually indoors, with four outfield players and a goalie on each side. It is fast-paced, full of intensity and requires fast feet.
Tell us, how did the idea of establishing a futsal league in Namibia come about?
I have been playing futsal and football for the majority of my life and when I moved to Namibia 13 years ago, I noticed many futsal initiatives came and went. Once the Windhoek Showgrounds Sports Plaza was built, I decided it was time to register Futsal Namibia as the first official futsal organisation in Namibia in 2020 and since then, we have been flying.
The Namibia Futsal League was officially launched last year, how has the development of the league been?
The development has been tremendous. We are very proud of the growth of this sport since inception. The first league we held had about 80 players registered whilst now, we are finishing our 2022 Winter League with over 600 players. Our sponsor, Express Credit, has played a major part in assisting us to grow this much in such a short period of time.
Have you been able to expand the league activities to other parts of the country, or are activities only limited to Windhoek for now?
There are plans this year to run some roadshows and short tournaments throughout Namibia to identify teams and sporting institutions that are willing to partner with us and run futsal in the same professional way we run it in Windhoek.
The league is now in its second season, are you satisfied with the overall growth of the league and players?
Constant and rapid interest in futsal is on the rise and I am extremely happy to give an opportunity to players from all backgrounds to come together under one roof and compete for the ultimate futsal title.
In terms of diversity, have you been able to strike a good balance with the enrolment of male and female players to the league?
One of the main aims when starting Futsal Namibia was to be inclusive of all ages, genders, religions, cultures and everyone who wants to take part. As the league is becoming more official, we are struggling to get more female engagement in the U/17 and first division, but it is something that we are working on fixing.
Is the Namibia Futsal League affiliated to any international governing body?
The league is not affiliated to any international body or even local body. We don’t want to jump the gun and seem unprepared on an international level. We need to build the sport up first.
Futsal is currently in its infancy and not yet popular amongst the locals. How do you plan on popularising the sport, especially amongst the country’s young population?
Football is the most popular sport in the world. However, with futsal we have the opportunity to establish a national team in the next few years that has major chances to compete in international events. Talent is everywhere and our goal is to create fun roadshows to schools and youths all over Namibia to introduce futsal.
Are there plans to expand and convert the current league into a national league that will see various regional champions compete for top honours?
The five-year development plan is being developed, and running a national league is definitely a goal we want to achieve. All regions will have to be represented. However, our main goal and aim is to create grassroot development academies throughout the country to produce high-end talent not only for futsal, but also for football.
The league also includes women teams, how have the females welcomed the initiative?
The female presence and interest from inception have been warmly welcoming; not only by the players but by spectators and us as organisers. The female first division has become a highly-contested title with teams that are always on time, show up kitted with the correct colours and that showcase great futsal skills.
In terms of facilities, are you happy with the general state and availability of futsal facilities/venues countrywide?
There are not many futsal-dedicated facilities available in Namibia. However, the beauty of this sport is that we can use any school ground used previously for other sports and with a bit of renovation, we are ready to welcome players competing. We are privileged enough to be able to use our current facility at the Windhoek Showgrounds Sports Plaza – suited for all types of indoor events.
The league recently partnered with Ongos Valley, which will see you hosting the Ongos Valley Futsal Winter Cup. Was that the start of many more such initiatives?
We have recently launched the Ongos Valley Futsal Winter Cup, which will be a one weekend event in between the Winter and Summer Leagues. The spots filled out almost immediately with new teams and new players. The Summer League still has a main sponsor, Express Credit, who have been pivotal to our growth.
Generally, how has the support been from corporate Namibia?
Just like any new sport, there has been some scepticism around it but since we have been working hard to make this a success for the players, the sport and Namibia, we are having numerous partnership enquiries from various corporate companies.