The garden town of Okahandja has produced a significant number of talented citizens, from teachers who graduated from the old Augustineum College to well know politicians such as Peter Katjavivi and many more, as well as great musicians led by the author of our National Anthem Jacobus “Axali” Doeseb and the country’s top drummer Siegfried “Jomo” Haoseb, to name but a few.
However, it is on the football pitch where the tiny town really made her presence felt with the majority of the country’s best footballers having emerged from Okahandja.
Amongst the more famous names to have come out of this town in years gone by are: Laban Kariko, Oscar “Silver Fox” Mengo, Gotty Geiseb, George Gariseb, Benjamin “Doc” Naobeb, Timotheus “Lemmy” Goagoseb, Bethuel “Ace” Tjirera, Rudie Pahl, Zebedeus “Merino” Kandonga, Hassie Mingeri, Jesse Diergaardt and Albert “Hoonjo” Tjihero.
In recent years, the likes of Lucas “Bimbo” Tjihero, Congo “Jakkals” Hindjou, Erastus Gariseb, Namene Philemon and Richard “Ou Rich” Gariseb all kept the legacy alive.
There are dozens of great footballers from this town who have gone unnoticed, and one such player is former Magic Tigers’ hard as nails defender Immanuel “Gai-aob” Namubeb.
Those of you who don’t believe in heritage – you’d better take stock of that perception after all Ou Gai-aob is the biological father of Richard Gariseb.
By Carlos Kambaekwa
Unlike many young boys of his generation who started chasing leather in their early teens – Ou Gai-aob’s contact with the spherical ball came at the ripe age of 17.
The 59-year old Gai-Aob has difficulties in recalling his real birth place rather than remembering that it was somewhere in the vicinity of the Ovitoto Reserve, East of Okahandja. He was born on the 24thh of January 1947 and later moved to Okahandja where he found himself in the company of other “streetwise boys” his age, and the youngsters immediately formed a local football team christened Magic Tigers.
Gai-aob teamed up with Dawid Gariseb, Gustaf Haoseb, Zebedeus Owoseb, Johannes Namubeb, and the late pair of Eliphas “Etosha” Naobeb and Lourens “Vossie” van Wyk in the fearless Magic Tigers line-up.
The team mostly competed in unofficial knock-out tournaments in nearby towns such as Karibib and Usakos, coupled with frequent visits to Windhoek.
Magic Tigers dominated football in the garden town in the early seventies and used to be the toast of the town with their no-nonsense approach that saw bone-crunching tackles with Ou Gai-aob the chief engineer – and some of those young footballers who endured the wrath of the strongly built Ou Gai-aob include the author of this article.
“In those days, football was very competitive and teams like Black Beauty Chiefs (BBC) Spoilers and Battle Boys used to give us tough times in our countless encounters,” recalled the ageing defender.
“Unlike modern footballers – we played with soccer balls manufactured out of heavy leather but boy! We used to shoot with ferocity from range, but these youngsters can’t even shoot from within striking range because they want to dribble the ball into the net; and whenever they decide to shoot, the shots are either tame or completely miss the target – that’s not football.
“Most of the goals used to be scored from 25-yards out because the forwards packed dynamite in their boots and were very committed towards the job at hand. Players like Tokollo (Doc Naobeb), Hasie, Lemmy and the late trio of Big Shoe, Ou Maletzky and Frikkie Plaatjies were technically very sound.
“The most exciting matches were always the derby against Spoilers – pandemonium would break out whenever Magic Tigers ended on the winning side because these guys were bad losers. They would always resort to fistfights after losing fair and square on the playing field.”
The 59-year old still follows the game and is a regular face at MTC Namibia Premier League matches, especially when his favourite team Orlando Pirates take to the field.
Ou Gai-aob believes his offspring Richard “Mr Stability” Gariseb inherited most of his football genes from him but is quick to point out that the Brave Warriors defender is still wet behind the ears as compared to him during his prime time.
“He lacks skill – I was not only a good defender I could dribble, packed a good shot, and used to get on the score sheet on a couple of occasions, but what I like about Richard is that he is very disciplined and very solid in the tackle, but he just needs to polish his temperament especially with match officials.
“Other than that, he is a good lad and has managed to keep his feet on the ground despite his fame, and whenever he is around, he always assists with house chores like any other boy his age – and that’s what really touches my heart.”
Ou Gai-aob bemoans the gap between locally based footballers and their foreign based counterparts.
“The gap is hopelessly too wide for the simple reason that local players seem to be lazy and lack commitment as opposed to the professionals. The current problem in domestic football is the continuous lack of sharpshooters in the mould of Pius ‘Pele’ Eigowab – because if the strikers fail to convert easy chances it puts lots of pressure on the backline and this could easily result in defenders becoming frustrated and losing concentration – and one lapse of concentration could have serious repercussions in a game.”
He also takes a swipe at the physical side of local footballers and reckons Namibian footballers are in poor condition.
“Our boys complain too much with match officials about fouls. It’s physical weakness which sees them coming off second best in physical tussles.”