Sober analysis

18 October 2021 | Sports

Limba Mupetami

Namibia will one day qualify for the football World Cup. A battering from Senegal will not stop that dream.

But qualifying should not only be a dream. It should take sober analysis on what exactly the stumbling block is that the team is facing currently and how to overcome it.

The team has a structure: the association, management, players and coaching staff. Let’s start with the leadership of Namibian football. Do we have the right people in place?

Are they passionate about football? I don’t mean the euphoria everyone gets when watching a football match; do we have passionate individuals who will give up their salaries to accommodate a footballer in need?

Do we have people who have drafted plans for how football can develop in the short term and long term? Do we have visionary leaders? Think about that.

Number two: Let’s come to the structures we have in the country – completely out of the FA’s hands but is what we have conducive enough to be used by footballers? Football has developed so much that a ball is not the only thing you need anymore. You need high-tech equipment and qualified sports scientists to help players.

Three: Is the coach the right guy for the job? What is the leadership style like, does he inspire or aspire for cups, do the players respect the coach enough to understand his philosophy and to fight for the team? Do the players even want to heed call-ups? Or do they make excuses of head injuries?

Football has many dimensions. It takes character to build a team. It takes more than character to sustain that team. I can speak about so many things, but briefly football and our national team in particular don’t have the mojo or the culture.

We have nothing to stand on. We don’t have an atmosphere or deliberate persistence that comes with a winning mentally.

We are happy to settle. We will try but when we can’t, we will settle for the underdog tag. For how long will we be underdogs? We have a couple of players who we can really point out and say that they are worthy to be in the national line-up. Let me break it down quickly: just because you are a great club player doesn’t mean that you will make an excellent national team player. At this moment in time, can we really say that we have the best midfield? I think not. Do we have the best strikers? Pick one striker and rate him out of five. Rate him on his scoring ability, technical ability, match awareness, ball control, and whatever else you want.

Let me just sum it up in the words of Ronnie Kanalelo, a former goalkeeper and coach: Namibia should invest in proper club structures, proper football concepts and needs to appoint the right people in sports leadership as this will build stepping stones to the end destination.

Without a clear pathway, we will just be that ‘part of the package’ country.

In order to reach the World Cup, we need to look at so many factors. Grassroots development, club development and investment, appealing salaries for players and transparent contracts, if there are contracts that is.

We can’t run clubs on meagre budgets, or run clubs as a hobby. We can’t run our football association only on cash received from Fifa. On top of that, we need a clear development pathway and strengthened talent scouting systems. We need a complete overhaul. Until then, let’s just dream.

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