Born in the remote Isala village in the Malindi area, Zambezi region and raised in the then Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Zambia – the full story of former Chipolopolo and City of Lusaka FC lethal goal-poacher, Boston Likando, aka Ponny Muyambango, in football circles in his adopted Zambia, cannot be described in any words other than unique.
Boston is the elder son of a migrant miner turned police-officer, Muyambango Likando, who hurriedly left his native land in search of greener pastures elsewhere crossing the vast Kavango River during the height of apartheid in 1953.
Little did the tallish ebony skinned boy know that he would become the toast of many football crazy fans and adoring team mates on foreign soil. His old man got fed up with the constant lack of employment opportunities and resolved to take the bull by the horn, crossing the hugely ‘croc infested’ Kavango River into Rhodesia.
The entire Likando family sought to start afresh in the unknown territory in the process putting their life at risk as they manouvred their way through the unwanted attention of dangerous crocodiles and attack minded hippos to reach their destination to the promised land of milk and honey.
In today’s edition of our weekly feature on sports icons, Tales of the Legends, New Era Sports brings to you our esteemed readers, the untold story of Namibia’s probable finest and most decorated footballer of all time, Boston ‘Ponny’ Likando.
KATIMA MULILO – Boston Likando arrived in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) with his family as an unknown bare feet 5-year old boy in 1953 and started his primary schooling in the southern African country, where his old man, Muyambango senior found himself a job at the Wankie Colt Mine.
After three years in Rhodesia, the family developed itchy feet and relocated to Livingstone in neigbouring Zambia where Muyambango senior was to work as a police officer in the Zambian Police Unit.
In 1961, Boston started playing competitive football at the Zambezi Sawmills Primary School at the fairly advanced age (football-wise) of 14, but it did not take the left footed lanky boy from the then Caprivi region to establish himself as a feared forward to become a much-sought-after commodity.
“I found myself in the company of football greats, Jan Simelambo, Lohnsom Mkatiwa, the pair encouraged me to take football seriously and recommended that I must be promoted to the school’s first team,” recalls Boston.
His nest stop was the Canious Secondary School where he met Wenzi Kaunda (President Kenneth Kaunda’s 2nd born son).
The pair formed telepathic partnership as they terrorized opposition’s defenses with unbelievable interplay – much to the delight of football followers. “Wenzi and I had a very good understanding and also went to play together in the school’s senior football team for a very long time”.
The Zambians leaned heavily on Boston’s amazing goal scoring prowess and it came as no surprise when the Namibian born striker was selected to represent the Southern Province Schools football team in his adopted country in a provincial tournament.
Between 1976 and 1979, Ponny signed his first professional contract when he was napped up by Zambian leading club Kabwe United playing against the late likeable Brave Warriors mentor, Ben Bamfuchile. The latter was playing for Nkana Red Devils.
His impressive performance earned him a well-deserved call up to the national schools football team. Here Ponny rubbed shoulders with the likes of Boniface Simitowe, Richard Stevenson, Patrick Phiri and Jibby Zulu among the crème de la creme of local youngsters.
“We used to compete in several international friendlies against Malawi, Tanzania, and visiting youth teams from Europe that included Nottingham Forest, Ipswich, Glasgow Celtic and Rangers”.
Soon afterwards, Boston joined forces with Zambian top football club, City of Lusaka, before he gained promotion to the Zambian senior football team, Chipolopolo in 1970.
The star-studded Zambian line up boasted the likes of Elias Mutau, Jack Siwel, Elias Mutau, Peter Muhango and Emment Kapenge. The latter just returned from a successful stint in Europe. The Namibian born goal poacher quickly settled into the team’s playing style and became the toast of the football crazy supporters who re-baptized him, Ponny Muyambango, ‘Ponny’ for horse because he had amazing speed.
Boston’s old man Muyambango retired in 1985 to return to his native land but ‘Ponny’ remained behind in his adopted land where he continued to torment defenders before he finally hung up his soccer boots to return to his motherland in 1989.
Upon his return to his motherland, the former Chipolopolo lethal net rattler did, however, not rest on his laurels and knuckled down to some serious business taking aspiring young footballers through the ropes teaching them the finer techniques in modern football.
Despite getting a bit long in the tooth to showcase his natural ball skills on the football pitch in competitive structures, the Namibia Football Association (NFA) got wind of his presence in the land of the brave and roped ‘Ponny’ in as Regional Development Coach.
Unlike many former footballers, who have developed a nasty habit of disappearing into obscurity upon retirement from the game that made them household names, ‘Ponny’ has done a lot of good work for the overall development of football in the Zambezi region since his return from exile.
He has been involved in setting up development structures for women and youth football and rewrote the history books when he was the oldest mentor leading the exciting Zambezi Invitational youth outfit at the annual The Namibian Newspaper Youth Cup since its inaugural edition until 2010.
‘Ponny’ might not have played football in his native land to demonstrate his God given natural ball skills and goal scoring ability, but he has surely left a huge mark in his adopted country, Zambia. The fast-galloping ‘Ponny’ will be remembered as arguably one of the most talented and accomplished footballers of his generation.