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Kauandenge Calls For Decisive Action In Football

Josef Kauandenge
Government needs "to intervene decisively in football matters", the National Unity Democratic Organisation's secretary general Josef Kauandenge said on Tuesday. Speaking during parliament, he urged the sports ministry to take "decisive action" in Namibia's crippling football war and put an end to a nearly two-year-long impasse so that the suffering youth can get their livelihoods back.

Kauandenge acknowledged that the recently appointed a committee of eminent persons (CEP) was a noble move, but lacks the requisite authority. The six-member remedial body is tasked with restoring the severed bridge between the Namibia Football Association and Namibia Premier League by early October. The CEP, however, cannot compel either party to do its bidding.

The 'independent mediating body' is the brainchild of minister of sport, youth and national service Agnes Tjongarero, who instructed the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) to appoint the 'experts' to find lasting solutions to the country's perennial football problems.

"Regardless of what the regulations are with Fifa that government must not get involved in local football [disputes], there is a need to intervene decisively in football matters in this country," said Kaundenge, who last week asked the minister to brief cabinet why football continues to be grounded.

"Unfortunately, it appears most of those in positions of power are only there for their only egos but our athletes, the soccer players, are suffering on the ground," he noted.

In response, Tjongarero said such a move would render Namibian football obsolete. "We are all concerned about these young people you are talking about. But if we follow your suggestions, we will be kicked out of all football. That will be the last resort. Before we can reach that point, all avenues [must be explored] so that our young people can start kicking that round leather thing," said Tjongarero. "The situation of Namibian football is not zero-sum game. 

We are trying to achieve one singular objective, to achieve long-lasting harmony. The impasse has a negative social impact on the lives of young people. This situation is concerning us as a ministry with a mandate to empower young people," she added. The CEP's establishment stems from the NSC's board's inability to pronounce itself on the NPL's request to be admitted as a second national football governing body or professional league unattached to the NFA. 

The commission does not list more than one national federation per sport code. Extensive fruitless talks facilitated by Tjongarero, her predecessor, Erastus Uutoni, and the sports commission have been held with both sides since last year. The expelled NPL welcomed the committee, which could hand them a route back to the mainstream football scene. However, NFA indicated they are unwilling to alter their stance.
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