Having keenly followed headlines in the media this past week, especially those related to the financial woes of the Namibia Premier League (NPL) and the challenges faced by its chairman, Johnny ‘JJD’ Doeseb, and the quite baffling views shared on various platforms.
Although I partly agree with those that are venting their frustrations at Doeseb and Co. – blaming him for the many things that are off-beam within the NPL setup and its activities and it’s true that maybe Doeseb should have done better in various departments of our league, as far as professionalising the NPL is concerned during the period of his reign.
Just like many readers, I agree that Doeseb, as the man entrusted with the responsibility of taking the country’s premiership football to the next level, (at least to become one of the best leagues in SADC) and make sure the NPL is fully professionalized, has failed at meeting those targets and should also be man enough to recognise this and except his shortcomings – something that he has half-heartedly done on a few occasions.
But what baffles me is having to listen to ill-informed views being aired by people, who don’t even have an idea of what they’re really demanding from Doeseb. When asked to pin-point the areas in which Doeseb failed, they can never clearly tell you or point at any, but are yet fast to demand that he vacate the NPL office.
Look, what I want is a clear definition of what we, as Namibians, really want and how we attain those set objectives, if any. Many a local football coach, club administrator, or even ordinary fans, would tell you that Doeseb failed to professionalise the NPL and thus failed the nation, but my question remains: what is professionalism and when do you say a league is fully professionalised?
Many Namibians continue to express a burning desire to consume professional football, but how many of us really understand the concept of professionalism?
I’ve noted that to many, when clubs participate in an organised league, they consider it professional football, while others argue that professional football is “TV football”, while yet others think that when sponsors bring in money, then the league is playing professional football.
Strangely, there are also some, who think that as long as the league is exporting players to foreign leagues, such as the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL), or the Botswana Premier League (BPL) then our league is professional.
Thus my question remains: what are we really talking about when we demand a professionalised NPL, or at least when saying Doeseb has failed to professionalise the league?
If I have to combine my little experience with my observations, I would say a professional football league is a league that has the capacity to sell itself, its products and services for a profit – and oh, the proceeds from the sales should be more than the expenses it is fit to be called professional football.
In a professional setup, everybody involved, including the clubs and their owners, have a huge role to play in making sure the league’s products and the league itself as product is utilised at a fee.
Before we cast more blame on Doeseb, I have to say I’m disappointed that the very same club owners directing all sorts of insults at Doeseb have equally failed to play their role in helping Doeseb professionalise the NPL.
Most of our local clubs have become crybabies, so used to being spoon-fed by the NPL via the MTC sponsorship – spoon-fed from their attire and monthly grants to all small basic logistics. What a shame!
I say while we’re busy pondering the way forward in securing a new league sponsor, the clubs and their owners should get out of their comfort zones and adapt a new business-minded approach to the way they conduct their affairs. How can you demand professionalism, but you are not even professional?
Club owners should start thinking like businesspeople interested in making money from their club’s products, not just lying around waiting for the league to give them monthly grants.
Football products include players, replica jerseys, merchandise and memorabilia, football club/team branded day-to-day usable products etc, while the services include match tickets, subscription fees for TV channels, etc., that give the fans (customers) reason to spend their hard-earned money.
But have our clubs utilised those avenues? I’m afraid not! So who is fooling who here? Hence, I say let’s all go back to the drawing board and start on a clean chapter, because the NPL mess is not just a Doeseb problem. Everything is wrong with the setup. Finish and klaar!
Till next time!