Thursday 26 April 2018, 05:20

Renovated pitches to help forge Namibia's footballing future

  • Total of 45 renovated sports fields opened at schools in Namibia

  • Result of collaborative development project

  • FIFA joined together with organisations from Germany and Namibia

Following the memorandum of understanding signed in February 2017 between FIFA, the Namibian and German Football Associations and the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), 45 sports fields at 22 schools and institutions across Namibia have been handed over to the school authorities following the joint programme carried out in the country.

As part of the redevelopment of the facilities, 17 out of the 45 renovated sports fields will be solely dedicated to football, giving girls and boys aged six to 18 years old better access to football and other sports. Sixteen of the pitches have been redeveloped in the Ohangwena and Khomas regions and one in Windhoek.

To mark the inauguration of the newly redeveloped pitches, a mini-football (plus netball and volleyball) festival featuring schools from across Northern Namibia was held at Ongha Senior Secondary School, as well as a special ceremony featuring representatives from key stakeholders, local organisations and authorities from the region.

Speaking at the ceremony, His Excellency Mr Christian-Matthias Schlaga, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Namibia, said that more than 85,000 young people will have access to the newly-built or renovated sports fields, as well as the chance to participate in “Sport for Development” training sessions.

The dedicated sport development and education sessions will be delivered by GIZ, an international development agency from Germany, who will aim to use football and other sports as a platform to address social issues faced by local communities in Namibia. The Namibian Football Association will also provide a specific football course, which will educate schoolteachers and help them become coaches and referees in Namibia.

Emphasising FIFA’s continued commitment to developing the game of football around the world – one of the key pillars to FIFA’s vision for football – Jurg Nepfer, Head of Technical Development Services at FIFA, said: “The project here in the north is an important pillar as it will help grow the game and motivate even those who think they might not be able to participate”.

He added: “Only one year after the ground-breaking ceremony at Concordia College in Windhoek, we are celebrating today the conclusion of the constructions of the sports fields. This is a great success and was only possible with the joint effort of all partners.”

Agnes Tjongarero, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, applauded the partners for the facilities and said: “Thousands of young people can now use modern facilities to polish their talents and see how far they can go with it, in the industry of endless possibilities. Sport gives us incredibly important lessons about life. It teaches us about the joy of triumph, but also about learning to be resilient when we lose, and to lose with grace”. She added that sport can help unify a country and bring people together.

National team coach Ricardo Manetti also encouraged the pupils to efficiently utilise the pitches. He used some of the Brave Warriors players as an example, including Willem Mwedihanga, Benson Shilongo, Absalom Iimbondi and Benjamin Nenkayu, to show that there is no excuse for any player not to make it to national or even international level, provided they put what he called “the right attitude” to work.

As part of the project, sports equipment was distributed to schools across the country, and a dedicated training and education programme was also being provided for referees, coaches, administrators and NFA/GIZ-selected local instructors.

Following the conclusion of the project, a series of regional school tournaments and coaching and refereeing courses will now be organised to make use of the new facilities and to give more opportunities to young people in the country to play football.