28 July 2018 – As global attention focuses on The World Cup in Russia, billions of eyes will be fixed on professional footballers paid millions for their skills. However, that’s not the case for many players and in Namibia, some young soccer professionals have been given the security of a ‘back up’ career in tourism thanks to a pioneering education scheme under the TUI Academy banner.
Anna-Marie Shikusho and Melissa Eises are childhood friends who met playing football at their local pitch in Katutura. Their skills flourished at the Namibian Football Association’s (NFA) Girls Centre and they eventually earned places in the national league, Anna-Marie as a striker and Melissa as a goal-keeper. However, with female unemployment at 49.9%, the pair wanted to score long term job security. With the support of the NFA Girls Centre and a Sport for Development scheme supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development they, together with ten others, were awarded a training scholarship by the TUI Care Foundation last year – and are now juggling hotel management with football fixtures.
The students, who in some cases need to learn basic skills like how to use cutlery, take classes covering a wide array of topics. Courses range from “Safety at Work” and “Food & Beverage Service Skills”, to a final assignment that consists of conducting a research project on a relevant industry-related topic. The Academy were supportive of the girls’ footballing commitments and they have been able to continue playing alongside training for a new career path.
Melissa Eises is 21 years old and lives with her mother and siblings, all of whom are currently unemployed. Talking about her new position as Junior Manager of the Hotel Thule, she says: “It feels great to give my family something in return and to support them financially. I can buy groceries and give my younger siblings some pocket money. I will keep on playing football but I want to build a career in the hospitality sector and eventually manage my own small hotel”.
Anna-Marie, 23, credits the NFA Girls Centre, who helped secure her Academy place, having changed her life: “Football is my passion. I started when I was nine years old. We didn’t have shoes or a real ball. My parents didn’t like it at all that I started playing football. They said, it was a boys’ game. But later they supported me. The Girls Centre changed my life, kept me away from the wrong friends, kept me away from alcohol and drugs.”
“There is a strong demand for well-trained professional staff in Namibia and the TUI Academy supported education will therefore give students excellent job opportunities”, says Thomas Ellerbeck, Chairman of the Board of the TUI Care Foundation. He continues, “experience has shown that this is true: Half of the young women in the Class of 2017 signed their first job contracts by the beginning of 2018.”
The second group of girls, including another national football player, goalkeeper Agnes Kauzuu, have now finished the first part of their training and taken up internships in renowned hotels and lodges in Namibia.
The TUI Academy programme is a global initiative of the TUI Care Foundation. The programme is currently running in Egypt, Zanzibar and the Dominican Republic with plans for further programmes in other locations.
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