An exclusive Interview with Joanitha Lorraine Gowases General Coordinator at COSAFA/FA GC

Name : Joanitha Lorraine Gowases
Date of Birth : 08 February
Place of Birth : Windhoek
Position : General Coordinator
Organization : COSAFA/FA GC

You have been involved in the game of football for a very long time, since when the then Namibia premier league was running at the Nictus Building. Over the years you have held different positions, how did it all start?
It true I have been involved in football for along as I can remember. All I know is that from a very early age I wanted to be involved in doing administration work from a very early age. All I can say is that when that opportunity presented itself, and it said you want to be a sports administrators, I raised my hand, I shouted from the depth of my lungs, with a vert loud “YES” and all I can say is that I have never looked back. “It was the best advice I ever listened to”

Sports was not considered a career path, when you started, why did you choose is and were there individuals who influenced you?
Look, there is something magical about the round rubber thing, called football. You cannot understand it, if you do not know what passion is. The passion for the beautiful game inspired me greatly. And if you have individuals such as late Eliphas Shipanga & Peter Van Wyk, Charles Kauraisa, Mario Carreira, Johnny Doeseb, Mbakumua Hengari, Mathew Haikali, Titus Kunamuene, Jacky Shipanga, Amos Shiyuka and Isaac Hamata just to mention a few, then the bug of this game and your life gets shaped just by being around them.
You see in the beginning, I used to sit in meeting and listen to my bosses arguing about teams they love, teams they run and the future for soccer, the future for young upcoming players, the future for soccer in general. And their passion for the game of football, rubbed on me.
In fact, it all started as a coincidence, back then I was assisting at the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The then Secretary of the Namibia Premier League resigned and my then Chairman, the late Mr. Peter Van Wyk who I was working with at Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) suggested that I should go assist in running the league for a period of three months which was very scary seeing that I did not know anything about football, or even how to use the computers. As the saying goes, the rest is history.

So it means you were thrown in the deep end of sports administration and this is what you have become. Do you have any memorable moment that you can recall that happened then?
Wow… I get goose bump when I recall my first time travelling with the national team that qualified for AFCON to Ghana. It was the first time, which this young girl from Katutura, set her foot on an aeroplane, it was my first time ever flying and it made it so special that I was on the same plane with the Namibia Players and whole Delegation
The other one that comes to mind is being called up by COSAFA to assist in the Tournaments.
I was doing something that I love with individuals from different countries that I was working with and learning from them in the same time.

You sound like somebody who love and is passionate about what you do. But have you experienced any low point during your years as a sports administrator?
Please do not remind me, of these terrible days, that have gone. It makes me want to cry all over again. You see when COVID 19 came, it was one of the worsrt times of my life, I lost my job, I got sickly, I was hospitalised, and worst of all I suffered depression. But I had to continue living, so I kept myself busy with odd jobs here and there, read books, allowed those close to me help, whenever I asked, kept my faith and kept hoping and believing that there is sunshine after every storm. And here I am.(smiling)
You see during those days, it was so tough that, I would lock myself in my room, shout, scream, be angry, sit down and rest. I also realised that when I needed I spoke to those close to and this helped me to remind myself that all these are part of God’s bigger plan for me, even if it is slow steps, I should find a way to walk through it. Sounds easy I know, but it takes faith, commitment and will power to handle anything live throws at you.

How did you overcome all this?
People talk about believe and having faith, am a firm believer in faith and always keeps me to bounce back from any situation.

Having gone through such hard times, what have you learned and how has it affected you as a person, personally and professionally?
You see, when you have goone through, the things I went through, you start appreciating, the small things in life and it made me stronger, wiser and open to handling set backs and how I actually can get through them.
I can now tell you that, I have grown to a level where I no longer compare myself to others, I take my time and remind myself that whatever I went through, has and still is shaping me into the lady I am today.

I am my own identity and therefore there is no reason or need to copy other people but learn from them rather.

Can you share any key lessons or insights you’ve gained from your experiences?
Look, there are positives in life, for example, it is ok to learn from others, it is ok to feel like you do not belong there, it is ok to feel like you trying but nothing is working, but regardless of it all, learn what the situation is trying to teach you and work through.
You must also realise that you live among human beings and at time a human being you are your biggest enemy because you do not believe in yourself.

You have gone through so much and gained so much, what can you tell to a young self?
Keep pushing, keep believing in yourself regardless of what live throws at you or what others say. Be openminded and learn to listen and ask, always ask if you do not understand anything. No question is stupid.

Is it possible to balance between your personal life and your career?
Honestly, there are no specific strategies I employ. I just make sure that I divide enough time for my personal life and my career that none feels neglected.

You mentioned earlier about your mentors and people who influenced your success, what about support, do you have any?
Some of us are very luck, as we still have families that we can alsways rely on. Having friends and and colleagues that you can turn to or talk to, for whatever life throws at me. I thank God every chance I get that they are part of my life.

Who were some of your mentors or sources of inspiration?
If am allowed to list everybody, I will fill pages and pages with names, for me the most influencial ones are every chairperson that I ever worked under at the Namibia Premier League (Charles Kauraisa, Mbakumua Hengari, Johnny Doeseb, Eliphas Shipanga, Patrick Kauta etc). They all are unique individuals and that is what made working under them so interesting because they teach you skills you thought you will never need or never use in your life and you end up applying that skill. They always motivated me that I am good at what I do and that I should never ever downgrade myself just because I do not have this or that.

Sports have up and downs, what are yours?
Like any athlete or any body competing, winning or achieving my goals always motivate me. I also celebrate when I see others prosper in life, as this inspires me to follow my dream, as I believe it motivate me to want to do better.
Life is about challenges, and especially in sports, as such if I find a challenges that is demanding, I make sure I make the most of any situation handed or provided to me.

How do you stay passionate and engaged in your work, even during tough times?
My bible keeps me grounded every time.

How has your involvement in sport affected your life?
Sports is about travelling and experiences, and experiences are provided by people. In my dealing in sports I have met awesome and beautiful individuals and share experiences.

What accomplishments do you consider to be the highlights of your career so far?
Hands down my GC call ups from COSAFA and having an opportunity to do what I love back home.

Are there any specific achievements that you are particularly proud of? Could you elaborate on them?
Oh yes, being part of local organizing Committee for NFA Cups etc. Debmarine Cup, Namibian Newspaper Cup, Scorpion Zinc Cup, Tafel Lager Cup, MTC Cup, Dr. Hage Geingob Cup etc. Appointment as liaisons Officer for the COSAFA Elective General Assembly that took place in Windhoek Namibia on 14 May 2022. Being appointed as Assistant General Coordinator during the 2022 COSAFA Cup in Durban, South Africa that took place from 05 – 17 July 2022, and again being Assistant General Coordinator during the COSAFA Women Champions League 2022 in Durban, South Africa that took place from 5 – 15 August 2022

The big one being appointed a General Coordinator during the CAF Women’s Championship League 2023, COSAFA Qualifiers in Durban, South Africa that took place from 30 August – 08 September 2023 and there after as General Coordinator during the Hollywoodbets COSAFA Women’s Championship 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa that took place on 05 – 15 October 2023

What do you want for yourself going forward?
Am passionate about the game of football and my goal is to keep growing in the game of football and sports. I also want to continue learning from others, help where I can and keep sharpening my skills with opportunities that arises.

How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as that girl that never ever gave up on life and what life had to offer her regardless of how challenging some situations were.

What advice would you give to aspiring person interested in pursuing a journey similar to yours?
All I can say is that you should remember that the beginning is always difficult and challenging but keep knocking on those doors and keep believing in yourself. Because you are all you have after all.
Looking back, what would you say has been the most valuable experience or lesson that you’ve gained from your journey?
That I am enough, that I am good at what I do, that I have the opportunity to do what I love which is one thing not everyone has.

If you could go back in time, is there anything you would do differently in your career or life path
Nothing when it comes to my career choice, I would still do this in the blink of an eye because I love what I 😊

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