Still no funds to revamp Sam Nujoma Stadium

• By Michael Uugwanga

IT is nearly 10 months since the Confederation of African Football (CAF) advised the Namibia Football Association (NFA) that Sam Nujoma Stadium in the capital is not fit to host any international matches.
Sam Nujoma Stadium has been used as the only stadium in nearly five years to host international matches for the country’s various national teams, the Brave Warriors, the Brave Gladiators and junior national teams, however this is no longer the case, with South African stadiums being used as home ground for Namibian games, and this is set to continue after the City of Windhoek has once again stated that it does not have the funds to improve the stadium.
According to the City of Windhoek, the upgrading of the dilapidated stadium is in the region of more than N$25 million.
Speaking to Confidente, spokesperson of the City of Windhoek, Harold Akwenye said that till today there is no money for the renovations despite him stating in July that the scope of the work was still being quantified by technical experts.
“It should be noted the City of Windhoek has not received a capital budget for at least seven years now. Such upgrades can only be done with approval and availing of a capital budget in consideration of the required upgrades the budget is not less than N$25 million, as per the FIFA report,” said Akwenye.
There are also rumours that a private company is interested in revamping the stadium, which could see the company given a lease agreement, just like how the City of Windhoek gave former Brave Warriors captain Collin Benjamin a 30-year lease agreement to construct a world class football facility at the Khomasdal Stadium in 2020.
In South Africa, First National Bank (FNB) has the naming rights of the famous Soccer City Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, as it is responsible for maintaining the stadium.
It costs FNB as much as R6 million a month to maintain FNB Stadium, a move Akwenye could not rule out for Sam Nujoma Stadium.
“Sam Nujoma Stadium was established under the Local Authority Act to benefit the masses particularly in the Western part of the city. Relinquishing the ownership of such facility to private ownership will not serve the purpose it was initially created for as it will be unaffordable to the majority and right of admission will also be limited to selected few only.
“Therefore, the council has no agenda to relinquish ownership, however, due to its financial position, we remain open to exploring possible arrangements in which case the facility shall retain ownership of the council,” said Akwenye.
A fortnight ago, it was announced by the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, that Namibia and Botswana are considering a joint bid for the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
If such bid turns out successful, it then means that the Sam Nujoma Stadium will be identified as one of the potential stadiums to host AFCON matches.
Thus, Akwenye said that the City of Windhoek cannot fund the stadium alone.
“Hosting AFCON should not be a singular effort of the City of Windhoek. Events of this magnitude require input from various stakeholders and need sectoral intervention, and will not be possible if it is expected to be funded by the council only.
“The government should also play a pivotal role in this bid supported by the private sector as well as the relevant parastatals. We should take pride and combine all available resources to make this a practical reality”.