It is often whispered that current Black Africa coach and former quicksilver striker Smithley “Chacklas” Engelbrecht is the finest goal poacher to have ever emerged from the shores of domestic football, but popular wisdom amongst those that have been around for some time is that his old man Sika is in fact the real McCoy.
Sit back and relax as New Era Sports takes you the reader down memory lane with one of the finest footballers of all time.
By Carlos Kambaekwa
From the time that Martin “Sika” Williams walked into Saint Barnabas Primary School, situated just on the northern side of the Old Location Cemetery, those who had passion and understanding on the finer points of chasing a soccer ball knew there and then that a star was born.
Born on the 6th of August 1945 at Okavirumendu (Sonop) farm in the Gobabis district, young Sika migrated to Windhoek at the tender age of 5 before he enrolled at Saint Barnabas in 1952.
“I remember very well, I started mingling with other young boys at that time and we immediately struck the right chord and formed a formidable soccer team at school together with schoolmates such as Obed Kamburona, George Hoveka, the late trio of Theo and Barnabas ‘Hohova’ Ndisiro and Maihiuombua Hei as well as the Jagger twins Piet and Barnabas,” recalled Sika.
These talented youngsters wasted little time and immediately knuckled down to some serious business that saw the birth of Naughty Boys Football Club.
“We recruited the cream of the township and brought in the likes of Mike Pack and his younger cousin Nicklas ‘Ruhoonjo’ Pack, Cosky Ngaizuvare, the late Issaskar ‘Maxi’ Mbaha, former Bee Bob Brothers’ rhythm guitarist and United States based Danny ‘Ndundu’ Ketjiperue and Raonga ‘Rhoo’ Kaumbangere who went on to establish himself as one of the best defenders ever to have donned the colours of African Stars in the late sixties and early seventies.”
Dubbed “Okambuakombandi” by his many admirers, Sika was lightning fast with deceiving little short sprints in the penalty box and had very few peers when it came to wangling his way past robust defenders en route to goal.
Sika’s impressive scoring exploits for Naughty Boys caught the eye of Old Boys Football Club who persuaded him to join the club where he was reunited with the Jagger brothers Piet and Barnabas as well as elder sibling Jeremiah, who became a well known politician in later years.
At Old Boys, Sika found himself in the company of the late goal keeper Crosby Mannetti, famously known for saving Percy “Chippa”Moloi’s spot kick and a self-proclaimed wrestler who specialized in street wrestling notably with his close pal Ambrose Simon who has since also gone to meet his maker.
The team had star footballers such as Potifar Eigab, Johny Rooihemp, Jacobus van Wyk and Cosky Ngaizuvare to mention but a few.
In 1963, the change of scenery was begging again for the itchy-feet Sika and saw the emergence of Rocco Swallows, a team that swept almost all available silverware on offer and one of the main reasons for that was the presence of Sika in the Maroon and White outfit’s firing line.
Sika together with the bulk of players from the now defunct Old Boys FC joined forces with Swallows and formed a formidable combination that went on to establish itself as one of the finest brands in domestic football in the late sixties and early seventies.
“In those days, I really enjoyed our derby matches with both Orlando Pirates and African Stars, though Stars would hold the upper hand in most of our encounters, we always ended up winning the league title on most occasions.”
However, the ship was not always smooth-sailing as Sika sometimes found the going tough against the uncompromising Pirates’ rearguard of Steve “Kalamazoo” Stephanus, Dokes Hange, John Awarab and the Eiseb brothers Gottfried and Immanuel while the Tigers’ centre back pair of Martin Veiko and Tives Mbako also made his life difficult on the pitch.
The 62-year old Sika also speaks with much admiration of Sackey Ipinge, Elliot Hiskia, Kiri Hei, Mike Pack and Raonnga “Rhoo” Kaumbangere.
He recalled a nasty incident between Rocco and Stars at the Central Sports ground in Katutura, next to Soccer House.
“After the match I saw the late Meester Jeremiah Jagger slapping Amos Tjombe in the face and pandemonium broke out as Amos did not take kindly to being ridiculed in such a manner.
“Some of the players needed medical treatment after the free-for-all fracas with all sorts of objects flying all over the place, even me myself I was badly injured and could not walk after receiving a knock on my ankle from a strayed stone.
“Eventually, somebody called the cops and the two culprits were arrested but they were set free after some tongue-lashing from the Bowker Boys,” laughed Sika.
In 1969, Rocco and Jungle Boys amalgamated and led to the birth of Ramblers Katutura where Sika formed an intimating partnership with Immanuel “#Neraro” Eigab – a tricky pint-sized player blessed with some deft touches and a poisonous left foot.
“The Ramblers team we had in those years was very good and playing with Eigab helped me develop my game and focus on goal scoring while Eigab was more of a provider.”
The very same year, the face of Namibian football would just never be the same again when the late Herbert Conradie managed to lure former Orlando Pirates’ (SA) icon Percy “Chippa” Moloi to Namibian shores for a number of exhibition matches in the Green and Orange colours of Etosha Lions.
It was Moloi who opened the door for local footballers to try their hand in the paid ranks in neighbouring South Africa when the stocky Pirates striker already in the twilight of his playing career invited a selected number of local footballers for several friendlies against various professional clubs in South Africa. The matches also served as trials.
There was no chance Sika would miss out and he deservedly booked his place on the long train journey to the City of Gold together with Hermann “Pele” Blaschke, Ismael “Lemmy” Narib, the late pair of Timo Metuyela, Abel Nero and many other leading footballers from then South West Africa.
And though Sika got his name on the score sheet in some of the games against the likes of Kaizer Eleven, Witbank Black Aces and Orlando Pirates Invitation Eleven, he never really caught the eye of the scouts.
Sika underwent a knee operation in 1971 which was to hamper his progress and he eventually called it a day at the ripe age of 34 in 1978.
Although he still watches the odd game, Sika who works as a security guard says today’s footballers lack the creativity and talent as opposed to footballers of yesteryear.
“In our time, we did not have luxuries such as coaches and all the basics things that modern players have at their disposal – the captain of the team used to select the starting lineup and the players would just concentrate on playing the game unlike today’s players who put money ahead of everything else,” lamented Sika.
Sika regretfully conceded that apartheid had put domestic football at a disadvantage because Namibia could have had a formidable team challenging the rest of Africa by now.
Asked about whether his offspring Smithley Engelbrecht inherited some of his football genes, the former goal-poacher was quick out of his blocks and said: “Smithley possesses pace and shooting ability second to none, but I had greater ball control than him.”