While many soccer players abroad live lavish lifestyle and do not know how it is to hustle for a living many Namibian players plying their trade in the Namibian Premiere Soccer League have to make do with meagre salaries.
The Villager survey across all soccer clubs in the NPL this week revealed that none of the soccer clubs does has a minimum wage leaving local players being paid whatever amount they agree upon with the individual player.
According a source, the average salary for a NPL player is N$3000 – N$ 7000. In Windhoek there are only 10 players with a salary amounting to N$10 000.
In fact most players in the league have to seek other means of income while balancing their footballing time.
One such player is Civics captain Peter Stevens who is currently a student at the International University of Management (IUM), in his fourth year of a bachelor degree in business information system.
Besides this, Stevens also runs a small IT business part-time. “I started contract IT solutions which deals with almost anything having to do with computers. I find a way to balance soccer, school and work because I have to. With soccer it is easy because we’re not professional so we only train after five.
My classes can be scattered across the morning and the afternoon so I can find time to do my work between them,” he said.
The 22 year old says he would love to focus solely on football however the financial climate cannot just allow it. “I know some people who are not doing anything outside of soccer but their salaries is not enough to cater for all their responsibilities.”
Currently within the Sadc region, Angola’s Girabola and the South African PSL are the most lucrative leagues, attracting Namibian players such as Ronaldo Tsowaseb, Hendrick Somaeb and Henrico Botes among many others.
In Girabola, an average sign on fee can be in the region of U$ 60 000(Approximately N$650 00) with a monthly salary of U$6000. Unfortunately as living costs can be rather high, rising up to N$5000 a month, many find this to defeat the purpose.
While in PSL, a player can earn a sign on fee of R 300 000 and earn R 20 000-30 000 a month.
Former Ramblers strikers and current Civics assistant coach, Costa Khaiseb says that despite the mediocre salaries NPL players are presently earning, things were much worse in his heyday. “Back then it was worse as we would earn around N$1200. We heard that some big names like Congo Hinjo earned around N$2600.”
He believes a big reason for the poor state of players in Namibia is because clubs do not invest in their footballers. “What I mean by this is that they don’t encourage or pay for their players to go to school and improve themselves. >>23
I have heard of only one two doing it, like Black Africa who pay tuition fees for their players, but not enough clubs do it. Civic used to do it, and we plan to reintroduce this again,” said Khaiseb.
Winning bonuses are one of the circumstances players can have an opportunity to earn more. The average win bonus is N$500 but increases for beating one of the bigger premier league clubs.
He does commend all clubs for providing transport for players to the training grounds from picking up points and back to their homes as it is dark after. Most professionals require more than 16 hours of practice every week, however NPL players only train for two hours a day after five.
As to why footballers’ salaries continue to be abysmal in Namibia, Khaiseb believes it is not solely down to sponsors. Gate takings and shirt sales also don’t add a significant amount to a club’s finance. “Sponsors are always welcome, but the main thing is TV rights. If NBC started broadcasting games, things will change for our players. That’s how all the big clubs, not only in Europe but in South Africa, like Kaiser Chiefs and others earn their money. Advertising doesn’t give so much money, after all, in town you will see a big poster of Drogba when they could have used on of our own.”
As important as football is to many players, eventually many have to think of their futures. Civics captain Stevens says, “If I was to find a job that paid me significantly more than I am earning in soccer, I will be forced to leave if the times clash. That’s just the sad reality. Many players in Namibia leave this way.”