Namibia’s local and foreign-based footballers yesterday joined voices in calling for the immediate return of topflight football in the country, saying the inactivity of football has left hundreds of players stranded and without income.
Namibia has been without premiership football for the past two years as a result of the ongoing standoff between the Namibia Football Association (NFA) and the Namibia Premier League (NPL), which led to the expulsion of the NPL.
The display of united was led by Brave Warriors and South Africa’s Swallows FC veteran goalkeeper Virgil Vries, who posted a short video clip wherein he demands for the return of local football and for the NFA and NPL to find an amicable solution to the current standoff that has crippled football activities.
In his video clip, Vries said: “We want football to start in our county. It has been two years since the football league was played and our brothers are suffering. But yet, they expect us to come and play for the national team while they are doing nothing. We really want all parties to come to terms and figure something out.”
Joining the chorus of unity for the restart of football was Namibian international defender Ananias Gebhardt, who plays for South African club Baroka FC. The left-footed Gebhardt also shared a short video on social media where he called upon the local football leadership to come up with solutions so that football starts, as the home-based footballers are going through hardships.
“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.
Also throwing his weight behind his compatriots was Namibia’s Thailand-based striker Sadney Urikhob, who said the infighting has robbed the livelihoods of hundreds of local players and something drastic has to be done for football to return. Urikhob plays for Thai’s Shanghai FC.
In his short video, also posted on social media, Urikhob said: “I plead to our football leaders in Namibia, please set aside whatever issues you have and the let the game of football begin; let our league start. Our players have not played football for the past two years and it’s painful – and yet you want us to represent our country. Please set aside whatever issues you have.”
Unam FC’s Risto Makuti, who equally posted a short video, narrated the hardships local footballers are going through and urged the NPL and NFA leaderships to work towards solutions that will see the immediate return of football.
The likes of Namibian internationals Joslin Kamatuka, who plays for South Africa’s GladAfrica Championship side Cape Umoya, and Black Leopards’ Chris Katjiukua as well as Jomo Cosmos’ defender Riaan Hanamub all repeated the same call to the local football leadership, saying without active football in Namibia, local players will miss out in lucrative transfer opportunities and a source of income.