An exclusive interview with Thomalina“Pele” Adams : A Football Player/Coach

Name : Thomalina “Pele” Adams

Place of Birth: Lüderitz, Kharas Region

Date of Birth: 1993 June 07

Profession: Football Player/Coach

A lot of people know you because of your involvement with the national team, the Brave Gladiators, who is actually Pele?

My name is Thomalina Azania Adams but the most popular name is PELE

I was born in the southern side of Namibia, in small coastal town called LüderitzBucht, where I grew up until I was thirteen years of age. Football passion for me started at home in the environment, where I grew playing street soccer with my friends, who were boys mostly, and we use to play against boys from other locations, in competitive games called “5 dollar” or “10 dollar” games, in which the winner takes all. These games were not about the amount of time played but the game winner was decided by the team to score first 5 goals, then you decide if we should change side or we just continue until one of the team to score first 10 goals won the match and the money. For us football was just a fun activity for me that point in time. I then went to school where it all got a little serious.

I made sure that I attended school and at the same time made sure that we later played football after school. It was during this after school football games that Mister Johannes saw me playing and asked me to go and join their team. It was then that I started playing for the school team with the boys from grade 6 and travelled with them, where we won trophies. When I graduated to grade 8, I then stared playing for the girls’ team called Buchter girls fc

When we played against other girls’ team, it always felt a little awkward and the girls were very slow for me because I was used to playing with the boys, who were faster and fun for me. When I later went to Windhoek for games, I think it was the regional games, where I saw that women football is big, “it’s a thing, it’s happening” we played but got hammed and lost the game, it was not fun but I was happy for the experience. The trip gave me an opportunity to meet for the time Stella and Kleinkie, at that time my coach Jaquline Shipanga was playing as a goalkeeper for a team called Okahandja Beauties. I still remember them beating us 13-1 and that one goal that i scored made me proud. After the match Coach J said I should join her team and thereafter we spoke about me moving to Windhoek, that was in 2007. The rest is our story.

Having the passion for the game of football at such a young age, what would you say inspired you?

I was inspired by my family and friends. I saw a lot of women football teams in Windhoek, these inspired me even more.

I would always look at my mother and just think to myself, “one day I will give you a better life because you have always gone out of the way to do things for me and my friends while we dreaming big about football”.

The clubs I saw in Windhoek, wowed me and the way they even played, made me want to join a girls’ team, which I eventually did when I moved to Windhoek to do my school in grade 9 and joined Beauties which was later called J.S Academy and there everything started my whole football career its while I started dreaming now really big about playing outside of the country. In 2010, I left for Germany to go play football only for Reglinghausen FC a lower division club. 2011, we had a friendly match against VFL Bochum, there were leading us first half and I equalized and they invited me to join them and there after I signed a contract for three years.

We all have people we look up to. As an aspiring player who was your role model(s)?

The Late Brazilian great “Pele”, may his soul rest in peace, was my biggest inspiration. That why I adopted the name “Pele”. Ms. Jackey Shipanga was instrumental in making me realize the power I have in the game of football and that if I set my mind to it, I could go anywhere I want to. Another Jackey also influenced my approach to life, to be humble and she is “the one and only miss Jackey Gertze, my mother”, she is and will always be there for me up until today. She has been amazing and have had a huge influence in my life in General.

Women Football and the game of football is regarded as a man’s game, why the interest?

What sparked my interest in football is that there was no discrimination whenever we got on the field, you got called on the name you want to be called, there was nothing about white or black, there was always just love, smiles, hugs and fun although sometimes it was sad when we lost, but at the end of the day you got a chance to play, which is what mattered the most.

Do you see yourself coaching after your playing career is over?

It all started at my team Tura Magic, my current team. Because of my love to stay fit, I always take the initiative to encourage my teammate to start with training. Am always the one saying “come on let’s go or let’s get started” and I will always push the others that wants to fall behind. I don’t like when my colleagues are lacking, I try to push them to work as one team so we should do things as a group.

I see myself as coach because of what I have seen from other such a Coach Shama Gure who would give me the responsibility to lead with drills for warm up or he would give me an opportunity to do some exercise for 30 mins with the girls or sometimes he would call and ask me to take over training because he will be late.

I have had the interest in coaching and I got an opportunity in late 2019 earlier 2020, when I was able to volunteer as a coach at MH Greef Primary School and was there for a year coaching. On my first day I had over 60 girls that wanted to play I had 3 team U11, U12, U13. Having worked with them for one year the team qualified for the U15 cup. It was then that I left and decided to learn more about officiating and went to assist the Hopsol league, futsal and other tournaments.

You know what “I don’t know, I love football so much so anythings that has to do with it I guess I will just do.

Having played in Germany, gave you an edge over other players, what do you regards as those moments that you are proud of

One of my proudest moments was 2014 when Namibia hosted the Women AFCON games. It was the first time that my mother was able to watch me play, it was the first time we hosted something so big or for us to take part in something so big and to top it off I scored a brilliant goal that made the whole nation go crazy, and made us win that match. I still get goosebumps to this day when I remember that day. Seeing so many people come out to watch our games and how it made them proud of us, still, make me smile.

Growing in the south, moving to Germany, playing for the national team are life great adventures, are there time when you felt high or low?

Yeah, playing in Germany Second Bundesliga will always be among my high, as I never dreamed that big, the whole time I only thought of South Africa and then “boom there, I was playing in Germany speaking another language and the treatment was just overwhelming”. I was going to school, playing football and working as physical education teacher at same school during my free time and I got to travel a lot. As we speak, I will always be a very big fan of BVB Dortmund, and every weekend when I played in Germay I would take the train to that town and do my shopping, which is something I never thought I would be able to stay there for 4 years. And “my world” the family that hosted me made things also so much easy for me, not to miss home. While sometimes it was soo cold at times, I loved every moment especially what made it special, was the treatment I received as a professional player.

While life has been good on one side, like every human being I have experienced low and mine is that I have to always train extra hard to make the first eleven, because sometimes the coaches already have their favourite players, this sometimes make me want to give up but then, I remind myself that I have trained hard and I need to show the coaches. So for the first year in Germany I was mostly on the bench but the second year the trust came slowly and I stared as part of the first 11 and sometimes when it was holidays time, I couldn’t go back home because I could not affort it financially and I had to stay but I always told myself if I missed home, reminded myself that a time will come and it would be worth the wait.

Another low in my life was 2016, when I played for Gintra University and we were scheduled to go play in Ireland, as we started to prepare for that cup, I got injured, I felt so useless because the team needed me and I could not help out, I was out for the whole competition and my contract also ran out. I came back home with a head up and with a broken heart but I told myself when one door is closed, there is a reason and with Gods timing the right door would open again

Setback and failure I think are those things that makes us stronger and wiser, for me it’s a thing of is wasn’t meant to be that’s why there are setbacks and failure are the things that prepares us well for any big step you need to take the next time and to always think n speak positive and pray about it god never sleeps he always listen there is no time to sit back we stand up and move forward

What kind of challenges have you gone through and how has it been for your personnel growth?

Challenges in a game like football is that you should know you might get injured and the game will still go on, so you need to be fit all round, that is mentally, health wise and physical ready. That way there will always be competition and that football can make you look a hero one day and also make you look bad the next day.

I believe I have grown so much as I have always been a player, eat, sleep, train. And play at first. That was then but now that am also doing coaching an d refereeing, I have really grown, I have become more humble, respectful, and responsible both on and off the pitch, because now am not just a player anymore, I have to start looking everything and anything differently. And this make me very proud of what I have been able to achieve.

I must say I will never be a follower, I will always be a leader and for I would like to advise other young people that if you get an opportunity take it with both hands and trust in your process just let God lead it and never be to quick to tell your goodness.

Being a sports person and personality, with such pedigree, how do you balance between being a player and living the life you have always wanted?

Well it was not that simple but I have a strong will if it’s football time its the only thing that time that matters and when it was my personal time I do my things but always with the thought that I cannot just stand up and do anything, how I want to because there are people out there looking up to me and some just waiting on your downfall.

I am very lucky to have someone like Jackey Gertze she has always been my support system so if life felt like its going backwards, I will talk to her and find my way back she is always there no matter the time day or challenge

Who do you regard as your mentors?

My mother because she is a strong women I couldn’t have asked for better mum

Coach Shipanga because of her attitude, the walk, the way of dressing and most of all her coaching and hunger for success

“Ti ma” is what I call Ms Gertze😊she use to beat me whenever I started with funny stuff and told me this is not the way to go if u want to be a professional player, getyour act together and then I would switch up. She did most of the parts that my mom could not do since I was in Windhoek and sometimes i felt i could do anything because my mom was far, so she won’t know but then Jackey was there to remind me that she is still there

Coach Shama he is really a good coach, he is not just there to come make us run but he also runs for us in difficulties times. He is more than a coach, he is a brother and a father to some of us. He will always put you on the right path he is just so amazing and very passionate about women football

Stacey Naris is someone that is just lovely, full of confidence on and off the pitch, so motivating and she was than and even still now, that she is a breadwinner of the house, taking caring of her family with a beautiful personality

Lovisa Mulunga is someone so down to earth and very intelligent good in both her school work and football. She is just an amazing human being to be around with never get you in trouble, but with her it all about growth and where you want to be after 3 to 4 years with her. I can stay all day long am always looking forward to see her at training or game days she makes me smile a lot.

Zenitha Coleman is very intelligent and quite, she does not say much only talks when it’s needed very godly and my first rolemodel ever since I saw her play for the first time i loved it I just love her like she my own sister

All of them always supports me and motivates me they have been there the times I wanted to fall and they picked me up

Now that you are more wiser, how do you approach training and preparation for competitions?

We usually training, fitness and endurance for 2 weeks, maximum more than the third week we know it will be more ball/technical work or tactics after that check where we did wrong and work on it then have fun game before we call it a day

Infact with a positive mindset comes a fresh body and a happy soul so you think positive you do positive things you ready positive keep a small circle so you stay ready

What are you likes and dislikes?

I enjoy the adrenaline rush and the intense competition that comes with playing the game. Additionally, the sense of teamwork and camaraderie between teammates is a significant aspect that i enjoy. Moreover, the feeling of scoring or helping to secure a win for the team is also a rewarding feeling. I enjoy the physical and mental challenges that come with playing football, as well as the sense of achievement and satisfaction that comes with success.

What keeps me motivated are the people that looks up to me and believes in me because I wouldn’t want to disappoint anyone.

Elements that I find challenging for me is that football requires a high level of athletic ability, and as a player, we must be in excellent physical condition to perform at their best. Combine this with the need to understand tactical complexity, especially instruction from the coach, one must be aware all the time. You need to be mental strong as the game of football is a a psychologically taxing sport due to the intense presence to win games.

From previous experience injuries are a big concern for us, because they can be physically and emotionally challenging.

What would you say keeps your spirits up during turbulent times?

I have been been playing the game since childhood and have developed a passion for it. This love of the game keeps me motivated even during tough times. The game is a team sport as a player you rely on your teammates to succeed.

When you perform on the field of play, the rally calls by my fans and supporters make me feels I have responsibility to make sure they hav something to celebrate.

Has been involved in the game of football had any imoact on your life?

Football has changed my life from living in a ghetto to living in stonehouse now the impact is more positive now after doing my NFA C-license. I have been asked to go coach at clubs, its like everybody wants to be associated with me so means this has a huge positive impact on my life

What you consider as your accomplishment so far?
We manage to win the NFA Women Super League three times in a row with Tura Magic Ladies

Having gone to the Women Championship, and having gone through the grassroots and introductory license and now having passed my CAF D-Licence.

One can say that now I have NFA C-license, am very proud of myself, because not many at my age have it, not even some coaches that have been coaching for years have it, so in this field I will clap hands for myself

My goal is to became one of the most top ranked players in African and in the world also to one day qualify for the world cup with brave gladiator and to have my own academy

I want my legacy to be a story that should be told over and over again that even if someone has tell my story, it should feel like am still there I want to an inspiration for the people, something that can stand in museum my legacy should go on and never die

What message do you have for young inspiring players and coaches?

My advice is if you are young take the opportunity to acquire and develop your knowledge and skills, use any chance you get to gain experience by working with players of different aged and abilities, set realistic goals and aim high.

If you are a player, remember practice makes perfect, study the game, listen to your coaches and peers and remember only you who can set your goals and only can decide to achieve them.

If you were to look into a mirror, what would you tell a reflection of yourself?

As humans, we all make mistakes and have regrets. If given the chance to go back in time, it is natural to want to change certain things in our lives. In terms of football careers, players might want to work on their skills and attitude, make different decisions, or avoid certain injuries. However, it is important to remember that our mistakes and failures shape us into who we are today and can help us learn and grow. So, even though we might have some regrets, we should embrace them and focus on improving ourselves moving forward.

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