By: Hertha Ekandjo
Namibia’s female soccer players team, Brave Gladiators, gathered at the Namibia Football Association (NFA) head office on Thursday, demanding their wages. The players told The Villager that they have not been paid in 11 months. They demand that NFA cancel the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) and use that money to pay them for their previous games.
“We want them to cancel COSAFA and just pay us our money, the money that they budgeted for COSAFA,” said one of the players.
“We have been unpaid for 11 months without a response to emails that we had sent to NFA. They promised to at least pay us 50 per cent of our money, which they failed to, but they paid the Brave Warriors their outstanding 50 per cent!” she exclaimed.
The players have threatened to boycott training and COSAFA until they are paid.
According to the Brave Gladiators, all the other teams got paid except for them. They said they always have to fight with NFA for them to receive their payments.
“There is always something that has to come up when it comes to the women’s team,” said the player.
She further said that they were tired and had decided to stand together and ask NFA to cancel the COSAFA until they solved this issue.
Another player complained that they train twice a day, but still, no effort was put in to make sure that they received something for the work they do.
Moreover, she said that there are approximately 30 players who haven’t been paid.
“If now there is no money, why in the first place will you promise, and which ground are you giving me that I should trust you to pay us after COSAFA?” she questioned.
The team mentioned that NFA did not put their word into action and waited for the player to approach them with questions about their money, while the association promised to pay on its own.
According to another player, this upcoming COSAFA game was their only game left for the year; therefore, they want NFA to pay them so they can have a fresh start next year.
“We can stay without football for even a whole year, without practice, until they sort out our outstanding payment and then we can start up fresh,” said the team.
Woody Jacobs, the team’s former coach, told The Villager that he was disappointed seeing his “lionesses’ being rolled over like that.”
“Today, they showed me that they are the lionesses that I coached. Today they stood up for what is theirs. They are asked to attend another COSAFA while the COSAFA of last year,” he said.
The ex-coach said that the girls rely on the little income they get from Soccer House, which is what they support their families with.
FIFA Normalisation Committee chairman Bisey Uirab, when approached for comment, said that NFA had no money to pay the team. Thus they should wait until the associations come up with a solution.
Uirab stressed that they could not use COSAFA money to pay the team.
“When you budget or given money for a specific purpose, you don’t redirect that money for other purposes. Otherwise, that is not good governance or handling of money,” said Uirab.
He stated that he would be engaging with the players to get a clear understanding of what was going on and to see what the way forward would be.