By Carlos Kambaekwa
Unlike many of his peers who started kicking leather in the dusty streets of the old location, Ipumbu honed his football skills in the most uncommon place.
“I started playing with a tennis ball while I was still a young herd boy at Okamapingo enclave in the Okondjatu constituency until my grandmother, the late Petronella Kaaharui Katjepunda, brought me to Windhoek to begin my schooling in 1944, aged 12.”
While at the Renisch Herero School, Ipumbu found himself in the company of the late advocate Fanuel Jariretindu Kozonguizi, Cleophas Siseva Siririka and Kaengeri Murangi amongst a bunch of promising footballers.
“In those days, the boys from the Ovambaderu clan had their own team called Morning Stars which consisted of Kandundu Kanuameva, Mbauka Hengari, the Kozonguizi brothers and many other boys from that section.”
Those from the Otjiherero clan were not to be outdone either and formed their own team going by the name of Heavy Batteries.
“We had great players such as the late Mbaraha Kaitjirokere, Dr Benjamin Tunguru Huaraka and the late Kahekee Kaitjirokere,” recalls Ipumbu.
“In those days, we had a very stubborn teacher from South Africa and I will never forget his name because that was the first thing he taught us when one happens to cross his path – you needed to know his name and pronounce it properly as well.
“His name was Simon Zedekia Mpogoshe and he was a no-nonsense mentor especially on the football field – he would always play with us with a whip in one hand and would never tolerate any mistakes.
“There were no classroom activities on Fridays because it was strictly reserved for various sporting activities with ‘Meester’ Mpogoshe at the helm of proceedings.”
The day would kick off with songs in the mornings and followed by boxing before it was rounded off with the beautiful game.
“Our school played against the formidable Saint Barnabas team that had great players such as Aaron Katoitoi Teek, nicknamed ‘Okangeama’ meaning the little lion – he was a tricky little player with deceptive runs and used to score plenty of goals from acute angles.
“They also had other great players like Hijatjindoi Tjongarero, Victor Kaukuetu, John Muundjua and the Mpogoshe siblings Welile, Fikile and Monde and of course there was this dangerous boy going by the name of Theodor ‘Zimmer’ Goreseb.
“There was this little stocky and very naughty boy Tjmbungu, he would always order us to go and steal eggs from the elderly folks and pass it onto him the next day at school for his lunch during the break. He was not a very skillful player but he was bullish and his name was ‘Wolf’.”
Ipumbu continued: “It was not long before the Ovambanderu clan formed another team by the name of Young Standard led by August Tjinauriri Hangero and Victor Kaukeutu – let me tell you a tale about this boy, he was very naughty and once challenged Mpogoshe to a fist fight in full view of classmates. He was a real troublemaker and gave the streetwise Mpogoshe a good run for his money.”
1952 saw the birth of African Stars after the amalgamation of Young Standard and Juveniles – it was the time when the bulk of top players left to pursue their studies at the Augustineum High School in Okahandja.
“While at Augustineum, we would compete against other boys from the garden town and believe me, the best footballers in those days were from Okahandja. They had great players in the mould of Laban Kariko, Boas Katire, Tinkietinkie Kasuto and the late pair of Obed Tjiunomake Kairikove and Festus Kaipia Tjihero.
“During school holidays, we turned out for African Stars against the likes of Speed Fire and Cherry Boys – they had this hotshot player called Njaanai Kaaheke, he was originally from Okahandja and used to cause all sorts of trouble on the pitch.
“It was very difficult playing against certain teams because of the hostility that became the order of the day – so we roped in the services of three non-playing members. The trio consisted of Katjingaueja, Bulle and Kanamejo.
These guys were real toughies and were extremely conversant with the finer points of street fighting, so whenever the going got tough the toughest got going.
“Those were the good old days when we sold empty bottles to buy our playing gear but it was at times a very tricky business as the Damara boys would always lay siege in the riverbeds to relieve us of our hard earned earnings,” said Ipumbu.