Playing abroad an uphill task

By Michael Uugwanga

NAMIBIAN female footballers will continue to face an uphill battle in their quest to play abroad unless the Namibia Football Association (NFA) and the corporate world start investing in women’s football, the same way they have prioritised men’s football.

Besides lack of investments into the women’s game that makes it difficult for Namibian female footballers to attract foreign clubs, is the misconception in Africa that football is a game for men, poor marketing and lack of promotion of the women’s game, lack of support from parents, and the gender pay disparity that is currently happening in the world.

Perhaps the only way Namibian female footballers can earn professional contracts is through regular participations in major competitions such as the Olympic Games, World Cup, Africa Women Cup of Nations, and at the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) cup.

Currently Namibia only has three female footballers playing professional football, Zenatha Coleman for Seville in Spain, Sandra Starke of SC Freiburg, Germany and Kotjipati Veweiziwa also in Germany for Mönchengladbach.

Starke, who is a sibling to Brave Warriors midfielder Manfred Starke, has represented Germany at various junior levels.

The likes of Annuschka Kordom and Lovisa Mulunga play college soccer for Corban University in Salem, Oregon, USA and Golden Rams at Albany University in Georgia, respectively.

Highly rated Thomalina ‘Pele’ Adams, aged 27, failed to make it big when she had the opportunity in Europe at VfL Bochum in Germany and Gintra Universitetas in Lithuania due to personal reasons.

Respected local female football agent, Nandaemua ‘Sonny’ Maharero said despite Namibian female footballers possessing skills they lack quality due to the fact that most of them do not go through proper development structures.

“There are two things to that, quality and contacts outside Namibia, and if you do not have those two then it is difficult to export. You find that in Namibia, only three to four players out of 60 players have these qualities. Another thing also is that the association does not have proper development structures.”

Maharero is the agent to Namibians Coleman and Adams; and three South African international players in Leandra ‘Wiloma’ Smeda at Swedish club Vittsjö GIK, Nothando ‘Vivo’ Vilakazi of Spanish side Logrono, and Jermaine Seoposenwe who plays club football for Portuguese club Sporting.

Top Namibian super football agent, Collin April who has more than 30 players on his books said in order for Namibian female footballers to attract outside market they need exposure.

“In my football dealings I have never exported any woman footballers. Our female footballers need more exposure. West African leagues are televised week in, week out. I have managed to watch some of the women matches played and I can say that we have good talent in the country.

“Our players must also change their mindset and be more disciplined. How can you sign an agreement with a professional club and still want to come do trials with national team call-up?” said April in an interview with Confidente Sport.

The country’s top flight women league has over the years been stagnant due to lack of funding with the last sponsorship being in 2018 when Skorpion Zinc gave N$750 000 for a period of two years.