Schools around Windhoek were in for a special surprise on Monday when the remaining teams in the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup paid them a visit to hand over soccer kit and offer words of encouragement.
The atmosphere at the Hage Geingob High School in Okuryangava was electric as Namibia’s Brave Warriors received a rapturous welcome, along with the president of COSAFA, Mr Suketu Patel.
Members of the COSAFA executive, the COSAFA Castle Cup Local Organising Committee, Referee Instructors and match officials joined a diverse delegation who spoke to the learners about a range of subjects.
From the importance of Fair Play, to living a clean lifestyle and how sport and academics go hand in hand, the learners were treated to some sage advice from the experts within the delegation.
The learners were awestruck to see their heroes in the flesh, with the excitement palpable as they got the opportunity to have their picture taken with Namibia’s superstar footballers.
Mr Patel also presented the school with soccer kit and balls to assist them with the development of the game at the institution.
“As COSAFA we work with big, big name players and stars of the national teams, but we never forget that wherever we go, it starts at school level,” Mr Patel said. “It’s our job to come and motivate young, budding stars to do better and get to the level of these national team players that you see here today.
“I ask every boy and girl here today who wants to be a budding footballer and make a success in the game, to work very hard. Just as hard as you do in your studies.”
Former referee Jerome Damon from South Africa, who officiated at two World Cup tournaments and is now a CAF Referee Instructor, introduced members of his panel to speak about the importance of Fair Play.
Namibia national team coach Ricardo Mannetti delighted the youngsters when he spoke with passion about how their support is felt by each and every one of his players ahead of their COSAFA Castle Cup Plate semi-final on Tuesday.
“You have no idea how the reception we have had here today will lift my players for their game against Mozambique. The passion you have shown us here today is what we need to see in the stands during matches. We are very humbled.”
Other schools who were presented with kits and balls included the Immanuel Shifidi Secondary School, which is the former Alma Mater of Namibia Football Association secretary general Barry Rukoro, and who had a visit from the DR Congo national side, to the delight of the learners.
Rukoro spoke about his own humble beginnings and path he has travelled to where he is today.
“With hard work, anything is achievable,” he said. “I walked through these same gates [of the school as you and I have managed to find success in life. So can you if you study hard and focus on what you want to achieve.”
Other schools visited by national teams and COSAFA representatives were A. Shipena High School (Botswana national team), Centaurus High School (South Africa), Concordia College (Lesotho), Otjomuise Project School (Swaziland) and Rocky Crest High School (Zambia).