Meet Namibia’s Own ‘Nobby Stiles’

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Inside the Aged

It’s not everyday that one finds a talented youngster reaching the heights of his early promise, with many highly talented footballers mysteriously going the way of the dinosaur while still at the pinnacle of their career – leaving many unanswered questions as to where it all went wrong.
The Rhenisch Herero School in the Old Location had many talented footballers in their midst and football enthusiasts at the time were of the opinion, and rightly so, that the bulk of those youngsters would become world beaters once they reached their peak.
However, as fate might have it – a big chunk of these talented footballers disappeared into thin air and never really came to the show.
However, Erastus Uazuvirua “Nobby Stiles” Hambira, was a versatile young man who excelled in football, boxing and cycling during his heydays.

By Carlos Kambaekwa

WINDHOEK

The nickname says it all – like many youngsters Erastus had his childhood heroes but to be associated with a footballer of the caliber of the England legend Nobby Stiles is no mean feat.

There was just no way out for an average footballer in those days just to adopt the nickname “Nobby” if he did not possess extraordinary skills, and young Erastus fitted the bill perfectly to carry the legacy of the England legend.

Nobby was a member of the all-conquering Rhenisch Herero School team that swept aside all their opponents in their way to winning the inaugural edition of the Bantu Schools Trophy in 1967.

The star-studded lineup included the likes of dribbling wizard Johannes “Kapuii” Angula, Hofney “Grey” Uumati, Justus “Kaika” Kuzee, Katjitata Kazombiaze, Shaka and Kiddo Mbako and Ephraim Kaparoro Kandjii, to mention a few.

The team defeated their counterparts from the Katutura-based Rhenisch Nama School at a packed to the rafters Municipality Sports Grounds in Katutura, by three goals to one.

“While in the Old Location, we played regularly against some teams from the Damara location but after the games the Damara boys would chase after us with sorts of dangerous objects thrown at us but we managed to escape their wrath.”

Nobby moved to Katutura with his old man and was a founder member of the notorious Ehahe Football Club alongside the late Justus “Kaika’ Kuzee, Manfred ‘Bush” Menjengua and Mike “Panja” Murangi, amongst a talented crop of young footballers.

Ehahe was a team mainly composed of young players from the Herero-speaking community and competed against the likes of Golden and Try Again from the Nama location.

Such was the rivalry between Ehahe and Golden, that it needed the timely intervention of the elderly folk to dismantle the two teams as both were important components of African Stars.

Nobby rubbed shoulders with the likes of Obed Kamburona, Aphas Katjivirue, George “Kanima” Hoveka, Theo “Tjizembua” Ndisiro, Amos “Superman” Tjombe and Issaskar Tjozongoro, while playing for his childhood team African Stars.

He later jumped ship and teamed up with a crop of other talented youngsters such as Oscar “Silver Fox” Mengo, Leviticus “Karieki” Hindjou, Edward “Oujto” Semba, Ngururume, Paul Kairimuje and Issy Kahungi to join the newly formed Flames Football Club.

Flames established itself amongst the emerging teams and mainly played in knock-out tournaments around the country – touring places such as Groot Aub, Rehoboth and Otjiwarongo where it left a legacy when they beat African Stars in the final of the annual Herero Cup with Gotty Geiseb the chief architect behind Flames’ victory on that historic day.

“It was the good old days of Dynamos from Grootfontein, Red Bees (Tsumeb) Red Fire (Walvis Bay) Black Beauty Chiefs (Okahandja), Life Fighters, Flames and African Stars (both Windhoek).

“After that, I went to Martin Luther High School and found myself in the company of great players in the mould of Tangeni Erkana, Gotty Geiseb, Mcbeth Muriua, Alpheus Gaweseb and Ben Tsanigab.

“During the school holidays, sometimes I would skip coming home and rather hit the road to Walvis Bay where I turn out for Namib Woestyn, and I tell you boy, very few teams could touch Woestyn at the time.”

Nobby was a member of African Stars’ touring squad to Upington in 1971, where they played against Pabalelo Chiefs and a team composed of Railway employees.

“I vividly remember that tour because of a very nasty incident that took place – the late Ben ‘Hikuepi’ Kauejao was almost locked up by the trigger happy cops because we imported some ‘Toffee Lux’ sweets from South West Africa – a rare commodity in Upington at the time and we had to do some serious explanation before the cops set us free.”

In his own words, Tigers used to be the team to beat during those days but the abbreviated emergence of Explorer Eleven changed that course as they caused havoc amongst the football fraternity with all the best players joining forces with that team.

“That team was absolutely dangerous and had great players such Warrick ‘Uerivara’ Zimmer, Cleophas ‘Siseva’ Siririka, Dicksy and Joe Kariko, Timo Mwetuyela, Coloured Kakololo and George ‘Kanima’ Hoveka.”

Unlike many young footballers of his generation, Nobby was a “Jack of all trades” and also tried his hand at boxing but his short height proved a real obstacle and he opted for chasing leather rather than trading blows.

“I joined a boxing club by the name of Tiger Kit in the Old Location with Reiney ‘Ferende’ Tjitemisa and the late Levy Komomungondo at the helm. The stable produced established boxers such as the legendary Joseph ‘Joe Archer’ Shikongo, Hauanga ‘Voete’ Komeheke and Nguramene Kazapua.”

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