Soccer for survival



Armed with a passion for football and love for the kids and no cent to his name, Hermanus Naobeb, launched the Swallows Soccer Academy in Katutura in 2007. Naobeb, a former football player who holds a CAF licence and a youth licence, took it upon his responsibility to start a football club after realising that many children in his hood had talent and passion for football but had no place for practice or anyone to guide them. Although he did not have any money, sponsor or partner to start up the club, Naobeb did not get discouraged nor dropped the idea.  “In 2007, I started the club on my own. I did not have much money but I still went ahead. When it came to attending tournaments, I would dig into my pockets to pay for my team’s transport and other expenses. Some kids would bring in whatever they could either N$10 or food. We would share anything we had together,” Naobeb says. The club started training with children of over 10 years of age, but quickly realised that even younger ones needed to play and had skills. Naobeb explains, “I took in those under nine years as well because they were always hanging around the playground. They were also brothers to the players or from the neighbourhood. so, instead of them engaging in mischievous activities, I decided to train them.” The club is divided into different groups according to age. There are children under nine, U/11, U/13 and U/17. Naobeb says since 2008, the children attended various youth tournaments either organised by the Ramblers group or Sport Klub Windhoek. One such tournament was the Sport Klub Windhoek tournament in March 2008  “We asked to be part of the SKW tournament where my under nine team played and beat youth Ramblers club (1-0), lost against Swakopmund Football Club, but won against Sport Klub Windhoek(A) and Swakopmund Klub Windhoek (B). We eventually won the tournament,” he talks proudly.  He was then advised, in 2009, to register his team into the street house youth league but did not have the funds to do so but managed later with help from NamPower. Naobeb is happy that his club now accommodates girls.  “We were the first to have a female player. Clemencia Endjala joined us when she was nine. I can say proudly that she is now one of our best players. In a mini world cup competition organised last year, she was voted the best player of the season, after scoring nine goals.” He also said one of the girls; Rosaline Kavanas is currently playing in the national team (U/13) and will travel to Lesotho soon for a game.Three years after the beginning of the first Katutura based team; the number of children coming for practice has reached 100 children.  “Every day, we get a new kid wanting to join. Although, we still struggle financially, it never comes to my mind to stop or chase away the kids because they cannot contribute. “I would not like to hear that something has happened to one of the kids because I could not accept him in the team. I would rather keep them here and make do with whatever we have. Everybody contributes with what they can.” Naobeb says. He adds, “Almost every second house in Katutura is a shebeen so I want to avoid the fact that the kids might be tempted into unhealthy and useless habit. I want them to choose a better path in life.”With such a huge number of children to attend to, Naobeb has since gotten the help of her sister; Aletha Naobes, holder of a certificate in sport medicine from Namibian Football Association (NFA). Lazarus Xoagub and Nattu Endjala have also joined the coaching team. They offer four times a week football practice sessions for children. The kids share less than 10 balls and practice on a pitch where sharp rocks and broken bottles lie around.“Besides football training, we also help them with their homework especially Aletha is good with maths. She always tutors them. We have given them a condition of working hard at school if they want to stay in the teams,” Naobeb points out. In regards to the future of the Swallows FC, Naobeb plans to ‘take part in more tournaments, try to get sponsors and start up an all-girls team’. “I intend on taking the children further and would love to see one of my players in the top league.” Recently, a pleasant surprise came knocking on the Swallows FC door when they heard that Gerth Botha, a passionate football player together with Klaas Woller, a youth coordinator at the Ramblers Club had fundraised for them raising N$20 000. The money will allow the Swallows FC to take part in the annual youth soccer tournament taking place in Swakopmund at the beginning of October.Naobeb and his boys are over the moon as they never thought their dreams to go to Swakopmund would come true. Most children have never put a foot outside Windhoek or even Katutura.“The first of October will be the highlight of all my players. To all of us, it actually feels as if we will be travelling not just to Swakopmund but somewhere abroad like Spain,” Naobeb says. “A special thanks to the Ramblers Club and parents. When I got the news, I almost cried with joy because they have put a smile on my boys’ faces. I am thankful for the work and help the Ramblers Club has always done in organising the youth tournaments over the years.”