Wash and wear for national team kit

Not just playing home matches abroad, but also the playing gear of national football teams has become a bone of contention.
Phillipus Josef
The Namibian Football Association (NFA) earlier this year revealed their draft action plan for the next three years is aligned to the expected US$3 million (N$54.4 million on the current exchange rate) funding from FIFA.

In the NFA’s financial statements for the financial year 2023 seen by this publication, the association spent over N$50 million in salaries and on suppliers. The statement further revealed NFA had a revenue of over N$65 million in 2023.

Despite these figures, Namibian football players have to wash and wear their own playing kits, or face a fine.

No kits exchange

An investigation by Sport Wrap revealed that players are not allowed to give their kits to fans, nor exchange with opponents after matches.

The exchange of kits between international football teams after a match are a customary sign of sportsmanship and mutual respect.

However, the practice is not always feasible for all teams, particularly for some African countries like Namibia.

NFA has faced challenges in securing consistent sponsorship for their kits across different levels – senior men's and women's teams, as well as junior teams.

Budgetary constraints

Over the years, the Brave Warriors have shifted from one kit sponsor to another, such as from Puma to Adidas, then Kappa, Umbro and most recently Vecchio.

The older kits are frequently passed down to junior teams, due to the national federation’s budgetary constraints.

When contacted for comment, NFA president Robert Shimooshili, stated that he was not aware of the matter.

“I do not know of such a thing. If you want clarity on the matter, kindly contact the marketing department. I cannot help you,” he said.

Our investigation found that for instance, during the 2018 CHAN tournament in Morocco, the Brave Warriors purchased kits from Kappa, while the youth teams continued to use Adidas kits that had been previously worn by the senior team since 2015.

In a telephonic interview with Sport Wrap, a former national under-17 and U20 player, who spoke under anonymity due to fear of victimization, said even during major tournaments they were not allowed to exchange their kits with their opponents, a practice commonly seen during European football matches.

“I remember during the U20 AFCON tournament in Mauritania, in our final group match against Burkina Faso, we were not allowed to exchange our shirts, even though we knew we were going to get them,” he said.

Similarly, the Under-17 national team wore Puma kits during their 2022 tour to Westfalia in Germany, which were hand-me-downs from the senior teams from 2013.

This practice highlights the financial realities faced by various African football associations.

While the more successful national teams of larger nations often secure full sponsorship deals that provide kits for free, the federations of lower ranked teams like Namibia might not have the same level of support and may need to purchase their kits at a discounted rate, or even at full price.