Bob Koudelka – Still a Legend

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WINDHOEK

Born on 3/06/1950 in the capital of Czech Republic, Prague, Bob was possessed with unusual football qualities and skill for a boy of European descendants.

The extremely gifted Bob joined Dukla Prague in the Czech top tier division and later moved to Aritmazd, followed by a brief stint at football club Brevnov in the lower division.

He emigrated to Johannesburg, South Africa at the age of 18 and plied his trade with Atlas Corporation in the social league for corporate businesses before moving to Cape Town where he joined Cape Town City in 1970.

It was at Cape Town City where Koudelka picked up the name Bob because his team mates at the Mother City club could not properly pronounce Bohumel and the name got stuck since then.

Bob relocated to South West Africa in 1973 and joined Windhoek City – the country’s sole representative in the South Africa Provincial second tier league that consisted of Jewish Guild, Highlands Park, Lusitano, Corinthians, Boksburg United, Hellenic, Durban City, Arcadia Sherperds and many other football clubs that have since gone the way of the dinosaur.

“At Windhoek City we played semi-professional but we were not really paid in hard cash. The club bosses would line up nice jobs for the players and whenever we travelled for our away fixtures in South Africa, there were no qualms about taking leave days – the club would take care of everything man!, including our air tickets, accommodation, meals and all that jazz,” recalled Bob tongue in cheek.

Bob would thrill hundreds of fans who packed the old Windhoek Showgrounds on chilly Friday evenings with his unpredictable runs and back heels that sent the darkies restricted to the rundown south and northern wood stands into raptures.

He was the toast of the township folk and blacks took a huge liking for Bob because of his style of play which was considered township friendly.

The star-studded City outfit had other great footballers such as George Hill, Don Corbett, Werner Massier, Siggy Horsthemke, Richard Wagner, and in later years Vic Lovell.

The late Vic Lovell was a marvelous goalkeeper to watch, and is better remembered for saving Oscar Mengo’s crucial spot kick in the match between the South West Africa Black Eleven and their white counterparts at a packed-to-rafters National Rugby Stadium in the 70’s.

The acquisition of the agile Lovell led to the influx of footballers from the Mother City, amongst them Siggy Anderson, Hugh “Bobby” Cradock, Ian Buchanan and Ian Wood, to mention but a few.

“We also had good players in the mould of Wolfgang Schulle and Barend Stahl and believe me, in those days players were more competitive as opposed to today’s ‘sissies’ – I watched Namibia play Malawi on Wednesday and was extremely disappointed with the standard of football dished out by our boys.”

“There is no aggression and players seriously lack the competitive edge required at that level.

“The Malawians played possession football and spread the ball well amongst themselves, making the Namibians look like headless chickens.”

The 58-year old Koudelka says the national team will never make any significant progress as long as the bulk of footballers play their club football in mediocre leagues abroad.

“Football is too static these days – that’s why you will never find a right-footed guy playing in a left-back position and the appointment of foreign coaches, especially from Europe, is a serious concern because I strongly believe African players must be exposed to the South American style of play which is more suitable to them.”

Koudelka says modern footballers are supposed to be far better because of all the benefits and many other aspects that go into the game nowadays, but he chastised local players for their casual approach towards the game and what he termed the absence of natural talent.

“All they want is money, money and more money, but their performance on the field comes nowhere near their financial demands and to crown it all, our players are too injury-prone because they lack the required physical strength.”

The much travelled Koudelka had brief spells with both Sport Klub Windhoek (SKW) and Atlantis in Walvis Bay, but it was at Ramblers where he finally came of age.

And who would ever forget that fateful Wednesday evening at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium when the bow legged striker single handedly tormented the entire African Stars rearguard manned by Albert Tjihero, Willie Katire, George Gariseb and Timotheus “Lemmy” Goagoseb.

Koudelka picked up the ball almost on the halfway line and left a cluster of defenders for dead with great dribbling skills. He sold a dummy to Stars’ highly rated goalkeeper Asaria “Ndjiva” Kauami before he literally walked the ball into an empty net – leaving Stars’ entire defence sprawling on the turf.

But what made the goal more special was the style in which he celebrated the goal by dancing man alone around the corner flag whilst his astonished teammates waited in vain to give him a pat on the back. Bob singled out Oscar “Silver Fox” Mengo as the most outstanding footballer of his generation and also reserved special praise for former African Stars over-lapping right back George Gariseb and Hansie Lohmeir.

Koudelka still watches the odd game in the Namibian Premiership but he is not entirely impressed with the standard of the league.

“There is absolutely no entertainment anymore -players are hopelessly restricted and cannot express themselves on the pitch, man! It’s just too much one-touch football and that style is taking the flavour out of the beautiful game.”

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