Bush football keeps spark alive

• Great way to prep for future

28 July 2020 | Sports

Limba Mupetami

WINDHOEK



Football is the livelihood of many across Namibia. However, over the past few months, there has been no mainstream or lower division leagues played in the country due to infighting and squabbles amongst football leaders.

As a result of the frustration caused by sitting idle, some football players have turned to 'bush football' tournaments.

This move has helped players with pre-season preparations, said local tournament organiser, Rhonie //Garoeb, who recently hosted a successful Dad Man Football tourney in Groot Aub.

Team Covid-19 won, the competition, walking away with N$5 500.

He said the tournament was welcomed by many players, added that bush football is beneficial to many others at the moment.



Starting point

“There were about 10 players from the Namibia Premier League (NPL) who participated in the tourney. We should remember that many top players come from gravel fields. It is where they were moulded for different leagues.

“Also, as much as NPL players flock to bush tournaments, they receive tough love from grassroots players who are out to impress against their more fancied counterparts,” he added. //Garoeb said the challenges players face to make it to premier league clubs include the unavailability and absence of scouts.

“If during tournaments such as the Dad Man series, we can have one or two scouts from NPL clubs, then I believe that at least four to five players will be lucky enough to make it to the premier league stage.”



Talent abounds

He further explained that 'bush leagues' have over the years fed the local league with talented players.

The likes of Orlando Pirates' Riaan Cloete, the late Saul Coetzee, who played for Black Africa (BA) and Pirates, Bradley Asprilla Wermann, who played for African Stars and BA, and Lazarus Kaimbi, who now plies his trade in Thailand, and many others all got their start playing bush football.

//Garoeb added that despite hopes that more players will make it to the big leagues, Namibian football still has a long way to go. He said developing fields and stadiums must be made a priority, especially in small villages, as many who are deprived of action often turn up with their own chairs or make use of rocks to sit and watch a match.



Fence off fields

“This is where the village councils, settlement offices and businesses come in. People buy goods when they turn up for tournaments and this benefits small shops. It's imperative that fields are fenced off or graded so that players don't have to play on fields full of thorns and stones. This can cause fatal accidents.

“We need everyone to play a part in making sure that each village or town at least has one proper field,” he said.

Dad Man series continues

The organiser will again this weekend host the Dad Man series in Gobabis. This follows the Karasburg, Keetmanshoop and Groot Aub editions, with Hoachanas concluding the series at the end of August.

“A generous sponsorship from the Dad Man brand, owned by retired teacher William Cloete, makes it possible to bring football to rural areas.

“Such sponsorship makes it easier to host tournaments as the prize money is set out, irrespective of the number of teams that turn up. It omits the over-reliance on team registration fees to be used as prize money and the organiser at least pockets something,” he said.

“We need more generous sponsorships to keep football alive, especially at rural areas,” //Garoed said, and urged teams to enter the football series.