From successive triple league champions to relegation fighters the spectacular roller coaster of Civics FC

WINDHOEK - Statistics reveals that the most successful teams campaigning in the country's flagship football league, the MTC Premiership, are without a shadow of doubt those attached to owners with deep pockets.

Previously unfashionable Khomasdal outfit Civics Football Club set the domestic football scene ablaze after a fairly unknown Austrian national, one Helmuth Scharnowski, took the club under his wings.

The football crazy East European migrant hit the ground running as he single-handedly changed the landscape of Namibian football.

The generous ginger-haired Scharnowski dangled a juicy carrot in the face of footballers from outside the club's traditional recruitment base, Khomasdal, enticing them with European pre-season safaris while improving their living standards through handsome monthly stipends.

In only his 3rd season at the helm of the club, the Mighty Civilians won the coveted NFA Cup in 2003, trailed by three back-to-back league titles between the 2005 and 2007 campaigns. As this was not successful enough, the club followed up its on-field exploits with another triumph in the form of the NFA Cup in 2008.

To say this massive success massively raised the team's profile would be an understatement. The Civilians went onto participate in the prestigious continental CAF Club Cup competitions with a great measure of success on three attempts.

However, as fate would dictate, the bleeding-hearted Scharnowksi was surprisingly recalled to backtrack to his native land in 2012 when the Buchschule-Civics Sport Academy Project ran full circle.

Though he left the club in good space with a crop of quality playing personnel, the Civilians started to feel the pinch financially, operating on a shoe-string budget to keep its head above the stormy waters of Namibian football.

Now six years since Sharnowski's unceremonious departure, the club struggles to attract decent players to their nest because of its inability to impart attractive financial packages.

As a result, the Civilians have fallen from being regular title contenders to serial relegation candidates in recent seasons.

Sadly, this phenomenon is not only confined to Civics alone � other high profile clubs also went through the same roller coaster of mixed fortunes. Ramblers, Blue Waters, Eleven Arrows, African Stars, Orlando Pirates and, lately Tigers, have all fell victim to the sudden exit of their respective financial backers.

The deep pockets of local moguls Cedric Martin, Ranga Haikali, Hendrik Dawid, Sidney Martin, Johnny Doeseb and Vaino Nghipondoka all brought great honour and pride, including the elusive league titles, to these teams but as soon as the revenue streams dried up � the benefactors suddenly found themselves in an unfortunate Catch 22 situation.

Well-known football administrator Isaak Hamata weighed into the current quagmire in which local football clubs find themselves entangled.

It's a sorry state of affairs, he quipped. For starters, investors don't usually come up with a sustainable business model. There's an urgent call to find tangible ways on how to invest serious money into their subjects but as it stands, one is inclined to conclude that these blokes just want to associate themselves with football for the sole purpose of tax rebate,' Hamata charged.

And while a few other credible football administrators echoed Hamata's sentiments, the dominant view is that football authorities should introduce hard and fast rules obliging potential investors to put aside a significant chunk of money to sustain clubs for an extended period, should they decide to leave in a huff.

Retired Orlando Pirates goalie Mabos Vries did not minced his words on the subject, opining that investors often come into football with their eyes firmly fixed on making a quick buck in return on their investment without conducting proper research about the real commercial value of the local game.

It should be noted that football has two vital components - technical, administration and operations. Strangely, sponsors have developed a worrisome tendency of trying to have their finger in the pie whilst possessing limited knowledge, let alone the required expertise about certain aspects of the game.

They should concentrate on the commercial aspect and leave technical matters entirely in the capable hands of proven football technocrats, fumed Vries.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia