The combined love for volleyball has seen a group of four friends coming to the rescue of the sports in northern Namibia in an act that has given birth to the formation of an organised volleyball league.
The resuscitation of the sports of volleyball in northern Namibia came about when Hillary Dux, Paul Mulunga, Johnny Whiteman Martin and Joline Diergardt came together in 2010 and introduced a volleyball league.
Initially it started out as the Northern League then changed its name to Far Northern League but is now known the Far Northern Volleyball Association (FNVA).
The league started with six male teams and four female teams. Some teams have been in and out of the league due to financial constraints but new teams have been joining as well each season.
The most successful season so far was in 2012 when 12 male teams and 8 female teams were registered for the league.
Currently for the 2016 season only eight male teams and four female teams are registered with the league.
The league is aiming to develop volleyball in the northern regions but the lack of funds is an obstacle. Most teams are financially sustained by the their own players through contributions with some of them being school-going children.
This puts a burden on teams from achieving their goals in representing the country at major tournaments and has, as a matter of fact, resulted in two teams (one male and one female) withdrawing from participating in the Zone 6 Club Championships to be hosted by the Namibian Volleyball Federation (NVF) at Swakopmund from 10 to 20 December.
The development commissioner of the FNVA development, Martin told The Villager that the league never had a sponsor and so far only had to rely on individuals and organization to sponsor club tournaments, such as Northcore Private School under the leadership of Dr Jerry Lwande
Martin noted that the main challenge the association has been facing all along are facilities as all courts used are outdoors and sometimes with no proper flooring thus putting off potential sponsors to come on board.
Teams also struggle with playing gears such as balls, apparel and even medical kit for clubs, while some teams fail to honour their fixtures due to transport and even to remunerate match officials.
Only teams from the Namibia Defence Force (NDF) get support from their line ministry.
Martin further noted that apart from the junior under-17 national team players, the league has been producing players for the Confederation of Schools Sports Association of Southern Africa (COSSASA) ball games. The league has far produced four players who were drafted into the senior national team in 2014 but due to inactivity of the national team they did not play any match.
Martin believes that Namibia is only capable of competing in the SADC region with countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe but that the level of the game in countries like Angola and South Africa is way ahead. This can be attributed to playing facilities and more qualified coaches and their development programs.
“These aspects also limited us from competing in tournaments such as the Olympic Games. That is why even our Beach Volleyball team players that were playing qualifying games for Olympics have been preparing in countries like South Africa and Germany. This is also due to less professional players in the country” Martin said.
The league games are played as far as Grootfontein, Opuwo, Ohangwena and Oshana since there are teams from those areas. SixStars volleyball club from Ondangwa have dominated the league since its inception in 2010 winning four times, while Nakapele Volleyball Club from Ongwediva won it twice and Eleven Warriors from Grootfontein NDF have one title.