After rubbing shoulders with the big boys in the Hage Geingob Cup, Julinho Sporting’s vice-president Norton Luis says the club is well- poised for the new league campaign.
Julinho played in the curtain-raiser of the tournament, and despite a 1-0 defeat to reigning Namibian Premier League (NPL) champions African Stars, Luis says both players and management walked away with tremendous experience.
“Julinho Sporting FC had a phenomenal experience. The players and management were truly humbled by such a rare opportunity. We have to pay tribute to Dr. Hage Geingob for this magnificent tournament.
If not for this tournament, how else could we play against such giants in African football in a matter of three days? The entire club was given an unforgettable opportunity... and a great experience which can only benefit the club throughout the season and motivate the youth to be able to dream once more,” he said.
He added that this tournament definitely made Namibia aware of Julinho Sporting FC, and it was through the Dr. Hage Geingob Cup that Namib Mills came in to sponsor his team in a deal worth close to N$150 000.
As an added benefit from the competition, the players came out with an attitude of being winners because of their contributions against the tough opponents they faced.
“It was great being able to play against these African giants. These teams are some of the biggest in their respective countries.
It was a great experience for both players and the technical team. It has definitely put us on the map as those who hadn’t heard of Julinho Sporting FC before are now aware of us”, he beamed.
Luis further stated that the club has learned that although there is a large financial gap between the three countries’ teams being South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns, Angola’s
Primeiro de Agosto and the two local ones, Namibia has extraordinary young talent, and the local players showed immense character to keep it together on the field of play.
After a gruelling debut campaign in the Premier League last season, where Julinho Sporting finished 13th and just a point shy of relegation, Luis says the club are ready to build on from that.
“We definitely ‘paid’ a great deal in school fees last season, and we are eager to start the new season to be able to apply what we have learned.
The experience taught us where we need to strengthen and the few adjustments we will have to make,” stated Luis, further explaining that one of their greatest challenges, and that of many other clubs last season, was that of a financial kind.
Due to a lack of finances, they were not able to compete as effectively as they would have liked, making traveling, accommodation and sustenance a challenge.
“If not for MTC and the Julinho Sporting FC board, we definitely would not be able to survive and cover expenses to make it through the season.
We hope that the sponsors of the Dr. Hage Geingob Cup will also translate into league sponsors so that we can begin to compete more effectively against the rest of Africa,” he continued.
Meanwhile, going into the new season, Julinho Sporting coach Nelson Luis expanded on Norton’s earlier sentiments, stating that last season was a learning curve.
“We started off the season well, but found it difficult to get the goals. This season, we are definitely aiming to be in the Top Eight of the league, and further if possible.
We have touched up in all sectors of the field with some new players to strengthen the team. We are still looking to strengthen our frontline further. I believe these signings will aid us to reach higher positions in the log- standings,” he stated.
Julinho Spoting shocked the nation by getting voted into the Hage Geingob Cup ahead of more popular Premier League counterparts such as Black Africa and Tura Magic.
Norton credits this to a solid supporters’ and promotional campaign.
“Julinho Sporting’s board took a resolution that we wanted the club to be in the Dr. Hage Geingob Cup. We recognised that we have the biggest social media following in the NPL, and we made use of that.
We used this platform, along with others such as partnering with Basement Records, TKB and The Dogg to release a new hitsong ‘Julinho Feeling Good’,” said Norton.
“We also lobbied friends and acquaintances to vote, and held several fundraising events across the country simultaneously”, he added.