Sunday 09 April 2023, 08:00

Football For Schools arrives in Namibia

  • The Football for Schools programme had its Namibia launch on 3-5 April

  • Some 100 children and 43 instructors took part in the event

  • The 16th country in Africa to participate in the programme

These are exciting times for Namibian football. On 28 March, the Brave Warriors beat Cameroon 2-1 in a qualifying match for the CAF 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, a stunning result that has helped them make an impressive climb up the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. And in yet more good news for the game in this part of the world, this time in an educational sense, the Football For Schools programme was launched in Namibia on 3-5 April. Rolled out in around 50 countries already, the project aims to make the game more accessible to young people by incorporating football activities into the education system. Supported by UNESCO, the programme contributes to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by empowering children.

Some 100 students, aged 13 to 14, took part in the festivities, which were held in Windhoek, the Namibian capital. They were joined by 43 coach/instructors, who have already received training on rolling the programme out nationwide. Judging by the smiles on the faces of all the participants and the commitment they showed, the event was a big success.

850 schools on the ball

The programme was officially launched at the Jan Mohr Secondary School in Windhoek, one of the country’s best-known schools. There was a party atmosphere as the youngsters, ball at feet, took part in fun workshops under the watchful eyes of representatives from the country’s Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service and the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture. Also there was FIFA Football for Schools Programme Director Fatimata Sidibe. “The idea behind the Football For Schools programme came into being in Rwanda in 2018, at a meeting of the FIFA Council,” she said. “The members of the Council and the FIFA President said they wanted every child in the world, through the 211 member associations, to be able to play football and to learn and pick up life skills as they do so.” That is exactly what the children of Namibia will now be doing. While the students of Jan Mohr Secondary School were in the spotlight on Wednesday, the project is well and truly national in scope, with more than 850 schools across the country set to offer the Football For Schools programme soon. “I’ve learned everything I know thanks to football, which has made 80% of my dreams come true,” enthused Erastus Someno, Director of Sport in the region of Kavango East. “Football is the most important of the least important things in my life. It’s wonderful to be able to combine it with the life skills that will allow young Namibians to become better citizens of the world.”

Thanks to the matches, training sessions and workshops they took part in, these 100 children have now been introduced to the philosophy of football, while also picking up valuable social skills and core values. “I’m grateful for the chance to learn skills and play football at the same time. It’s like two things in one, thanks to FIFA,” said Loushandre Lawrence, one of the 100 students. In the months to come, special moments such as the one he has just enjoyed will be commonplace for youngsters across all 14 of Namibia’s regions. The final word went to Rejoice Tjituera, a teacher in the region of Ohangwena: “Thanks to football, we can reach out to a lot of young people and teach them the vital skills they will need to get along with one another, live their lives and flourish.” The next generation of Brave Warriors are waiting in the wings.