“Knowing your priorities in life simply means one should be able to clearly distinguish between short- and long-term goals because as a people, we need to prepare ourselves for the unknown.
“Being a disciplined youngster, I always had my ideals and knew exactly what I wanted to achieve in order to achieve self-fulfillment, therefore I managed to do so many things at the same time without neglecting the others, because I was always enthusiastic and committed to my studies.”
Those are the encouraging words from the mouth of the multi-talented athlete and former Hungry Lions and Chief Santos hard-tackling fullback Dr. Mike Ochurub, who excelled in three different sporting disciplines, namely athletics, boxing and football.
New Era Sports caught up with the highly knowledgeable former Secondary Schools undisputed Welterweight boxing champion, as he takes you the reader down memory lane.
WINDHOEK - If you were an aspiring athlete living in the 80’s, apart from the lightning fast sprinter Abraham Soabeb, the most famous athlete in the business was doubtlessly Frankie Fredericks, whose name continues to reverberate through local athletics circles and is held in the highest esteem throughout the world.
However, one particular athlete who will not only be remembered for his exploits on the sports field, but more importantly for his academic achievements is none other than Dr. Mike Ochurub.
Mike Ochurub was born on 10 April 1962 at a small village in the mountainous Khomas Region between Windhoek and Okahandja, but spent his infant years at Usakos where he started his primary education.
Although he played the occasional street game with other boys in the neigbourhood, young Mike started out as a boxer at the Petrus Ganeb Secondary School at Uis. He quickly established himself as a hard-punching fighter and knockout specialist in the Welterweight division. The strongly built stocky and athlete soon became the undisputed secondary schools champion in his division, a title he held for three consecutive years.
In the meantime, the energetic Mike also tried his hand at the beautiful game of football, while the man with the golden touch also excelled in athletics, notably the track events as he always left his competitors in the lurch in both the 400-metre sprint and long jump events until he completed his secondary education.
He started teaching at Khorixas and joined a local football team going by the name of Indian Pirates in 1982, but soon left for the City of bright lights (Windhoek) the following year to further his education at the Academy for Tertiary Education. In the absence of boxing facilities at the new College, he resolved to keep himself busy with the spherical object and played football for the Academy’s first team in the Central First Division.
The star-studded Academy College outfit dominated the Central second tier league and easily won promotion to the elite league at only their first attempt, but for some reason, the team went the path of the dinosaurs – leaving many of the star players seeking greener pastures elsewhere.
Mike and team mates Gideon Gurirab, Nico Andima, Jomo Galand and Ephraim Dawids all joined forces with Katutura outfit Hungry Lions Football Club. The hard tackling Mike was an immediate hit and made the number 3 jersey his own property to become the toast of the hard-to-please followers of the uncompromising maroon and white outfit. He enjoyed great success with the Lions and was a member of the team that defeated the much fancied Chief Santos in the final of the annual Easter Tournament at the SKW Stadium via Justice Basson’s lone strike in 1985.
He later relocated to Tsumeb to resume his teaching profession at the Copper Town and joined Chief Santos for one season before he developed itchy feet again – this time leaving to further his academic studies in the Mother City at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in 1988.
The multi-talented Mike was immediately drafted into the starting eleven of the UWC football team where he played alongside compatriot and shot-stopper Thomas Lombaard.
“The two of us were the only Namibians in the University’s first team and I must confess I really enjoyed my football there, because we had a lot of talented footballers in that squad who included some professionals from top clubs in the South African Professional Soccer League (PSL),” reveals the academic known for his keen sense of humour.
He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in General and Management Sciences before returning to Tsumeb to resume his romance with Santos in 1990. He was on the winning side the following year when Santos won the 2nd edition of the annual NFA Windhoek Lager Cup against Blue Waters, shortly after the country’s independence.
Always in pursuit of a better education, the restive Mike left for Durban and enrolled at the University of Natal where he once again rekindled his love for football with University team.
“Our mentor was Clive Barker, who also happened to be coaching PSL giants Amazulu at the same time. So, every Wednesday we would play a practice match against Amazulu, which was quite an experience and a real eye opener in terms of learning the ropes in the tough and demanding rigours of professional football,” recalls Mike wistfully.
Mike eventually called it quits and parted ways with the beautiful game upon his return from Durban after he was offered the position of Education Planner for Commercial Subjects at the newly established National Institute for Educational Development (NIED) at Okahandja, where he doubled up as Manager for Broad Curriculum development at national level.
In between, he successfully completed a Masters Degree in Education from the University of the Free State, followed by a post-graduate Diploma in Business Development in Computer Literacy at the South African College of Business Management (both through distance learning).
Mike left for the United Kingdom in 1998 and completed a PhD in the Economics of Curriculum Development and Implementation at the Oxford Brooks University in 2002.
After serving in several high profile positions in the private sector and some stateowned enterprises, Mike finally ventured into business and is currently a self-employed Human Resource Consultant, while he is also a successful part-time farmer in the Gross Barmen area.
The much adored and articulate Mike could not resist a parting shot at the current crop of footballers plying their trade in the domestic topflight league.
“Athletes today are hopelessly too one dimensional and lack commitment and vision. The boys must understand that football is indeed a short-term investment and must plan to have something to fall back on once their playing days are over,” he advised.
Mike rates former Black Africa and Black Beauties midfield genius Lucky Boostander, as the greatest footballer of his generation.