Inside the Aged-Centre Forward with the Classic Touch

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Without a doubt, Werrick “Uerivara” Zimmer (Goroseb) was one of the greatest
footballers ever to emerge from this country in the late fifties and early sixties.

He had all the attributes of a typical old fashioned centre forward – great pace, packed dynamite in both feet, good in the air and above all, the killer instinct in the small box.

The pocket sized founding member of the notorious Pirates (Dolam) and sharpshooter captained the South West Africa Bantu Eleven on its first ever international safari to neigbouring South Africa way back in 1958.

A good chunk of that squad has gone the way of all flesh – others are still around battling to keep hunger at bay, while very few of them are enjoying life after football, and one such player is the 71-year old Werrick Zimmer who is now enjoying his retirement days in Pofadder near Kakamas in the Northern Cape, South Africa.

The former Cape Cross, Pirates, Explorer Eleven and Blue Waters lethal marksman entertains us with tales of those thrilling times in football while playing on dusty fields in the Old Location and all over the length and width of Namibia. He also recalls with a great measure of regret how he was forced to quit the game he so dearly served and loved after he lost interest through a lack of decent opponents, whilst still at the pinnacle of his football career.

By Carlos Kambaekwa

WINDHOEK

Should the history of Namibian football be told in bold – the name of Werrick Zimmer, better known as Uerivara Goraseb, will feature prominently because whenever young Werrick was on song – he had very few peers on the playing field Werrick started chasing leather at the age of seventeen with his boyhood pals – the late Immanuel “Socks” Skrywer, Simon Cloete, Nicodemus Awaseb and Amon Goaseb in the Old Location where they turned out for Cape Cross as youngsters.

“We had talented guys in that team – there was this young dude we used to call Bayman, please don’t ask me where that name came from, but he was a marvel to watch and we also had these highly gifted brothers from Upington – Boy and Frans Daniels.”

The team competed against the likes of Tigers, Young Standard, Juveniles, Thistles and African Stars. “Most of our encounters were friendly matches, but boy! The players took each match seriously, because pride was at stake in our days. We also competed in the Bowker and the Ethel Dresses Knock-out Cups in the Old Location.

“We later changed the name Cape Cross to Pirates (Dolam), but I later left Pirates to team up with the cream of the township to form the untouchable Explorer Eleven.”

The team consisted of Joe Kariko, Dr Siegfried “Tjaatako” Tjijorokisa, John Swarts, Bronny and Paul “Zoro” Willemse, Dicky Kariko, Timo Mwetuyela and Cleophas “Siseva” Siririka, also known as Danger in football circles in those days.

“Our first game was against Tigers which we lost but after that it was one-way traffic as we went onto win each and every game and football became very boring as we clearly ran out of decent opponents.”

Explorer Eleven was under the guidance of the highly knowledgeable Robert Nhlapho, a South African who was a social worker in Windhoek. “We became the first ever black team to play against a white team when we confronted Ramblers in 1961 – the match was played in a very good spirit and ended in a draw with the versatile Imms Skrywer in excellent form on that historic day,” recalls Werrick.

Such was his influence on the playing field that the national selectors had no hesitation in installing him as captain of the first ever South West Africa Bantu Eleven that toured South Africa in 1958.

“We had this German guy going by the name of Manfred Hewicke who used to work at Otto Mohr Outfitters in those days and he was a very good coach. He was instrumental in selecting the touring squad that went to play against invitational teams in Johannesburg, Durban, Krugersdorp, Hammanskraal and Bloemfontein.”

Amongst the players that represented the South West Africa Bantu Eleven were Lisias “Coloured” Kakololo, Kallie Bessinger, Oscar Tjahuha (Norich) Simon Cloete, Lightning Geingob, Amon Gaoseb, August Nangolo, Stephanus Nilenge, Seth Kavandje and the Malan brothers Man and Issy. Andrew Mogale managed the team, while a white chirpy going by the name of A. de Wet kept an eagle eye over the travelling entourage.

Four years later, the team toured South Africa again with Werrick still wearing the captain’s armband. “This time we played in Johannesburg, Germiston and Bloemfontein where we met a Damara guy by the name of Conradie – he was an immigrant worker and got married to a South African lass there.” The team had mixed fortunes winning two and losing the other two matches on the road.

“The South Africans were technically better equipped than us, but we completely outclassed them with our unbelievable endurance, pace and shooting ability.”

Upon the team’s return, Werrick was honoured with a testimonial match where he turned out for Pirates against a Tsumeb Invitational Eleven in the Copper Town in 1962. The match was organized by the late football guru Herbert Conradie and drew a large crowd.

Werrick developed itchy feet and found himself in Walvis Bay where he joined the star- studded Blue Waters outfit alongside Charles Kauraisa, Gabes “Flying Fish” Mupupa, Tommy Uushona, Gabriel Muthilifa and Oscar Tjahuha (Norich).

“We had memorable encounters against NamibWoestyn – they had this striker whom I only remember as Isacky, he was very cunning and tricky.”

Werrick won the golden boot award after scoring a record 350 goals in his illustrious football career.

“I was always inspired by Tommy, Gabes, Timo,and goalkeeper Alois ‘Alle Hoe-kies’ Taylor while Kallie Bessinger also proved a tricky customer to handle despite his small frame.”

The 71-year former goal poacher believes modern footballers are having it too easy and lack endurance. “In our days we were much fitter than today’s youngsters if you consider the fact that we played up to three matches within a day and besides that, we used balls made of heavy leather while we were also not allowed to make any changes (substitutions) during a match unless a serious injury occurred.

“The standard is very low and football authorities must seriously start thinking of adjusting the training methods if we are to make any serious inroads into international football.”

Werrick is a diehard Manchester United fan and likes the Brazilian flair while he is also highly impressed with the Spanish style.

His offspring Eric Muinjo followed in his dad’s footsteps and made a name for himself as a footballer of note and is currently amongst the best qualified coaches in domestic football while his younger brothers, the late Geoffrey “Jeff” Zaahl and Sylvester “Seun” Doeseb also tried their hand on the spherical ball.

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