Leading in football through passion and faith.

By-Nancy N. Halweendo

Helvi Eliakim, former Namibia Senior Women national team Captain and defender, is not only gifted with exceptional football skills, but is an excellent academic performer as well. She forms part of the team of women with careers off the pitch, and killing both roles with pride and honour.

Hear me out, the multi-gifted Eliakim is currently an NFA, COSAFA and CAF General Coordinator [GC] and the U23 Men National Team Manager. She is a professional Mathematics and German teacher, a former Confederation of Colleges & Universities of Southern Africa Student Representative, served as a Central School Sports League Administrator and Union Secretary General, was the U15, U17, U20 and Senior Women National Teams Manager, and an ex-Sport Commission Vice Chairperson for Khomas Region. While we are here, let me bring it to your attention that she is also part of a selected group that led the FIFA E-Connect training programme.

During her playing years, Eliakim was described as a tough opponent, a fearless and a hard-tackling defender, who also flourished in other sports codes like javelin and 200m athletics. In 2007, she bagged the Sportswoman of the year at the Windhoek College of Education, where she later obtained her teaching qualification.

A persisting knee injury forced her into retirement from football twelve [12] years ago, after undergoing her second knee AC ligament reconstruction in 2010. She has since had a third operation done on her knee in 2020.

The former captain says she was drawn to organising and managing, which encouraged her to advance both her knowledge and skills, leading to her landing the GC role.

“Prior to becoming a GC, I served in various administrative positions in sport. I made it a priority to attend FIFA and CAF administrative and Football coordinating courses and workshops and today, that commitment has paid off.”

She is currently the only Namibian woman serving in that position nationwide, which she says is nowhere close to being a good number for women representation in that capacity.

“We have a GC trainee, Ms Joanitha Gowases, but it would be great to have more women General Coordinators in Namibia. Countries like South Africa have a great number of women serving in that role and I think it would serve us well to emulate that.”

More on the former Football Star:

Do you serve in any other role; Sport, Profession, Academic?

“I am the chairperson of the Girls Football Academy. No current academic roles however, I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management from the University of Science and Technology [NUST] and a Business Administration Diploma from the University of Namibia [UNAM].”

You have had quite a good year; worked with U23 men’s team and the Women’s Champions League. Take us through your experience?

“Oh! What a blessed year it has been! It started off with my first assignment as a General Coordinator for the Men CAF Champions League match, Al Ahly vs Al Hilal, in Cairo, Egypt. Thereafter, I was assigned as one of the two General Coordinators for the COSAFA Senior Women Championship in South Africa, for the 3rd consecutive year, followed by an assignment to Angola as the team manager of the national U23 men team.”

“I love to refer to the assignment that followed as the “cherry on top of the cake”, because it is my greatest assignment this far. I was one of the four General Coordinators for the 2nd Edition of the CAF Women Champions League Tournament in Morocco, a major stepping stone in my career.”

“The exposure has been great and I have gained massive experience. All assignments played a significant role, but my experience at the CAF Women Champions League is close to none, and will forever have a place in my heart. I was part of a great team, and worked with amazing people with whom I shared fantastic football moments. This year showed me that my hard work is paying off, and will hopefully serve as a steppingstone for future CAF call-ups, such as the AFCON, WAFCON, and hopefully, even FIFA championships.”

What keeps you going?

“God! I know I can do all things through God who strengthens me, and concur with the saying ‘Those who can kneel down for the Lord, can stand up to anything’.”

Let’s talk principles; what is your personal philosophy?

“Impossible is only a dare.”

What would your best advice to the girl child be?

“The first would be to never give up hope. Dreams do come true, and I am a living proof of that. I have not ticked all my boxes yet however, I am far from where I started. I firmly believe that someday, God willing, I will achieve it all. Lastly, they say discipline, dedication and respect are key factors, but I believe patience and passion are virtues which are absolutely essential.”

As we conclude our interview, what are your last words?

“I am a firm believer that if you have knowledge, pass it on to those in need, and always do for others what you want them to do for you.”

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