The groundbreaking ceremony for the joint programme School Sport in the Ohangwena Region took place at the Concordia College in Windhoek, one of the colleges and schools which will benefit from the venture, yesterday. The college was the first inter-racial school in Namibia.

The project is a joint venture between the Namibian Ministries for Education, Arts and Culture and Sport, Youth and National Services, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Namibian and German Football Associations and FIFA. The main components of the project are the improvement of sports facilities in dedicated schools in the north of Namibia, the education of instructors who will train teachers to become coaches or referees, the introduction of school leagues, the delivery of equipment to the benefiting schools and the teaching of life skills to children.

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between FIFA, DFB, NFA and GIZ in February in Johannesburg is the foundation for this co-operation. All together 45 sports fields - of which 17 are dedicated to football - within 22 schools will benefit from the project, providing girls and boys between six and 18-years-old opportunities to practice sport and football.

"This project provides opportunities for children to practice proper sport and to benefit from physical, social, emotional development. Sport has to be part of the official school curriculum and should not only be played off-periods" said Esther Nipondoka, the Honourable Deputy Minister of Education, Arts and Culture. "It will contribute to a healthy development of the children in Namibia."

The Director of Sports on behalf of the Deputy Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service, Shivute Katamba, referred to the UNESCO charter which says that “there is the fundamental right for all to practice sport”. He was also convinced that this project will provide a platform for children to develop both their physical, social and educational skills. Both governmental representatives promised their full support for the project.

Ronny Zimmermann, the Vice-President of the German Football Association, described the long-term co-operation between the DFB and NFA and mentioned specifically the Girls Centre at the NFA headquarters which was constructed in close co-operation with the German Government, the German Regional Federation “Westfalia” and the DFB. On the project itself, he drew attention to the sustainability and long-term effects of this venture and the power of football and sport in general which can make the difference in favour of a healthier development of the child in Namibia.

Acting Principal Joseph Masule, was delighted that his college could host the groundbreaking ceremony. Full football equipment for two of the college teams was handed over by FIFA.

Jürg Nepfer, Head of FIFA’s Technical Development Services, mentioned one of the primary pillars of FIFA’s vision for the future, the growing of the game by making football more accessible to girls and boys all over the world. "Football in schools will always be a priority for us. With its positive values our sport is an ideal complementary to the promotion and teaching of life-skills, another primordial corner stone of the project."

President of the Namibian Football Association Frans Mbiti was exceptionally pleased to see the project start. “It contributes to the federation’s efforts to further develop football on all levels with a special focus on grassroots for girls and boys." He thanked all the present partners for their support. The NFA General Secretary Barry Rukoro, who performed as the Master of Ceremony, stressed the importance to produce more male and female footballers, but especially better Namibians.

The ceremony was concluded by a mini-tournament between four schools from Windhoek in which boys and girls (each team had to have at least two girls in their team) showcased their talents, as well as the laying of the first stone of the project and the unveiling of the special plaque with the name of the project.

The support to school football in Namibia is a pilot project of its kind. The renovation of the football fields will start in May 2017 and will last approximately eight months. During this period there will still be activities such as the organization of festivals, tournaments and school league championships as well as the conduct of coaching and refereeing courses for teachers. Each of the 17 schools who will benefit from the football support will get equipment for two teams each which will be handed over in a kick-off workshop in Eenhana on the 4 April 2017.