“We want football to start in our country. They expect us to come and play for the national team while they are doing nothing to start football.”
These are the words of experienced Swallows FC goalkeeper Virgil Vries, who is pleading with the Namibia Football Association (NFA) and the Namibia Premier League (NPL) to urgently set aside their difference and work together to see the return of the beautiful game in the country.
The ongoing standoff between the NFA and the NPL has grounded football in Namibia for almost two years with hundreds of footballers in the Southern African country struggling, stranded and without an income.
“We really want both parties to come together for the sake of football before it’s too late, to figure out something,” added Vries.
Along with the Swallows shot-stopper are experienced players in Chris Katjiukua, Riaan Hananub, Ananias Gebhardt and Sadney Urikhob who released coordinated video recordings earlier this week in which they demand the return of top-flight football and for the NFA and the NLP to cease fighting – find an amicable solution.
According to The Namibian Newspaper, this is the second time the players have asked the administrators to end the dispute as in February more than 100 footballers held a peaceful demonstration, marching through the streets of Katutura to deliver a petition at NFA Football House.
The aggrieved players described the administrators as “self-serving opportunists” whose only interest in football is to get top positions in order “to enrich themselves”.
Baroka FC defender Gebhardt in his video asked the leaders to come up with solutions to restart football and end the hardship of the home-based players.
“It has been two years since football was played in our country; our brothers are suffering, yet they expect us to play for the national team, while nothing has been done to bring back the beautiful game.
“We really want both parties to come together for the sake of football before it’s too late,” pleaded Gebhardt.
Throwing their weight behind their compatriots were Namibia’s Thailand-based striker Urikhob, Kamatuka, who competes in the GladAfrica Championship for Cape Umoya, and Black Leopards’ Katjiukua as well as Jomo Cosmos defender Hanamub.
“Our players are suffering. It is painful. We don’t have time because football is a short-term career,” said Urikhob.
While Katjiukua in his video said, “Our brothers are struggling. Both parties must come together for the sake of our brothers”.
It has been reported that on average that Premiership footballers in Namibia earn between N$1 500 (R1 500) and N$13 000 (R13 000) per month with the majority of players take home less than N$4 000 (R1 400) with the highest earners getting approximately (R3 000).
Meanwhile, in the second-tier league, players are said to be receiving no monetary incentives altogether.
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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi