Tribute to a forgotten icon, Ferdinand ‘Golden’ Namubeb

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OTJIWARONGO – A product of the Kaputa settlement in the Otjiwarongo district, the fearless hard as nails centreback “Ou Gold”, as Ferdinand was affectionately known among his peers, the beanpole defender was certainly destined for the big stage. On the field of play, the bearded tough tackling fullback proved a thorn in the flesh of opposing strikers as a result of his imposing physique.

Ou Gold was surely not the most skilled footballer, but the man with the heart of a lion took no prisoners hence his popularity among football fans across the country. He possessed a wining mentality second to none while his no-nonsense approach and his tough tackling instilled fear in marauding strikers.

The towering fullback was not the kind of dude who could take kindly to dubious referees’ decisions. Many match officials found themselves on the receiving end of his quick temper, often accompanied by his educated right hook.

No wonder his frightening presence on the football field was to be abbreviated via a life ban from all football-related activities after he pummelled the hell out of a match official. Five years ago, on a freezing June afternoon, New Era Sport cornered one of Namibia’s most recognisable faces of the beautiful game.

Strangely and in total contrast to the bullish athlete many have become accustomed to on the football pitch, a remorseful Ou Gold, now quite long in the tooth took us down memory lane with tales of his countless confrontations with match officials to the time when he rubbed shoulders with none other than our Prime Minister and President-elect, Dr Hage Geingob, on dusty sports fields during their infant years.

His football career propelled him from humble beginnings in the dusty streets of Orwetoveni township in his hometown Otjiwarongo to the bright lights of Johannesburg, South Africa, via the then South West Africa Invitational Bantu Eleven – the frightening defender would always command authority on the pitch and even the most lethal strikers were not too keen to be in close proximity with him.

Besides his boyhood buddies, only a few know that Ou Gold used to be a meaningful rugby player in his youth and up until his death, he would be glued to the television set watching his favourite oval ball sport with is peers.

Unlike many young boys from the townships, who despised the oval ball game because of its connotations with the perpetrators of the skewed apartheid laws and its implementers, a generally gifted and versatile athlete Ou Gold developed an unquenchable thirst for rugby and would feature for the local combined Black Rugby Fifteen in his hometown when the game was deemed taboo for darkish hide inhabitants.

His link with Geingob started at the old Augustineum High School near Okahandja, that saw the pair reignite their relationship dating way back to their boyhood days.

“He (Hage) used to be an extraordinary athlete, a tough nut to crack. He was a sports-crazy lad, who excelled in both the football and rugby disciplines. Our battles would continue during the school holidays and in later years when he relocated to Tsumeb where he established himself as no-nonsense defender for the now defunct Etosha Lions FC (to be known as Chief Santos in the intervening years).

A founder member of Otjiwarongo glamour football club, BMC, Ou Gold started out with the likes of Festus Sawab, Zebulon Guidao-Aob and the Tsaeb siblings Moses, Issaskar and Cedric.

“We used to compete in several knockout tournaments mostly against teams from Windhoek, Tsumeb, Grootfontein and Walvis Bay. It was during the emergence of Black Africa who dominated the domestic football scene since they assembled a very good team comprising highly gifted young students from Dobra.

Ou Gold admitted that BA’s dominance was brought to a premature end when Cornelius Goraseb High School (Khorixas) opened its doors allowing other teams to recruit talented footballers from that institution as well, thus levelling the playing field.” BMC became a major force to be reckoned with in the northern part of the country, more specifically at home where they battled for supremacy with Life Fighters, Orlando Tigers, African Lions, Silent Killers and Dodgers but such was BMC’s dominance that they just missed out on qualification for the popular annual Mainstay Cup finals in the maiden edition of the multi-racial setup.

“For some strange reasons, our team always found the going tough against African Stars and could not beat them in Windhoek. Stars had great footballers led by Kaika Kuzee, Oscar Mengo, Ace Tjirera, Kierie Tjituaisa, Albert Tjihero, Juku Tjazuko and a great shot stopper in the shape of Ndjiva Kauami.”

By his own admission, the main problem why BMC could not get the better of Stars away from home was the team’s inability to field their regular strong starting line-up since the bulk of its playing personnel could not be released from work, as they worked on Saturdays.
The gentle giant lifted the lid as to what transpired on that fateful day at the old showgrounds when pandemonium broke out in an ill-tempered Mainstay Cup match between BMC and Stars.

“Ace (Tjirera) deliberately handled the ball before Stars netted the winning goal. Our goalkeeper Alfred (Areseb) did not take kindly to such an injustice and as soon as the referee blew the final whistle, he let out his frustrations on both the culprit (Ace) and Kaika, so all hell broke loose. “It became a free-for-all but luckily nobody got seriously hurt. It could have been worse had it not been for the timely intervention of BA players and Dios Engelbrecht, who came to our rescue.”

In between, Ou Golly would steer his beloved BMC to victory in several major tournaments but his most memorable display was the Bochart Cup in Windhoek, where they defeated the star-studded Tigers outfit at the old Katutura Stadium. “I vividly remember that match, we beat them 2-1 with Nandos Mbako between the sticks.”

He was a valuable member of the South West Africa (SWA) Bantu Invitation tour to South Africa for the Provincial Olympic Games under the leadership of late football guru Herbert Conradie. Some of his teammates in that travelling entourage were – Eliphas Sabatha, Eddy Cloete, Nandos Mbako and Tommy Ushona – to mention a few.

“Let me tell you a secret, three guys got homesick and debarked off the bus halfway in Keetmanshoop, leaving us to proceed with a depleted squad to Jo’burg. The squad was so thin that we laterally did not have reserve players on the substitutes’ bench but we somehow managed to weather the storm and finished third overall in the tourney.”

He added that they were totally misled by newspaper scribes concerning the genuine strength of their opponents. “Soccer scribes in Transvaal sang praises for our opponents from their own area obliging us to field our strongest line-up against the hosts, whereas teams from the Western Province were indeed the Real McCoy”.

Ou Gold’s playing career was brought to a premature halt when the often-volatile brother took the law into his own hands in a local derby against Life Fighters. “It was a cup final and our opponents were leading 2-0 deep in the second half. We scored two quick goals with the last one arriving in the dying minutes of the match, but the referee shockingly disallowed the goal.”

The BMC old statesman was irritated and unleashed a combination of uppercuts and jabs beating the lights out of football official Paulus Haipare, who happened to be the league’s chairperson. The raging fullback believed Haipare was unjustifiably interfering with the referee’s call.

“My temper was always part and parcel of my game but that’s now water under the bridge. I would really like to apologise to Bra Pau for my unbecoming behaviour that effectively ended my relationship with football,” confessed a remorseful Ou Gold.

Namubeb was charged for having brought the game of football into disrepute and summarily summoned to Windhoek for a disciplinary hearing under the hierarchy of the no-nonsense South West Africa Football Association (SWAFA).

He was found guilty of gross misconduct and received a hefty punishment in the shape of life ban from all football-related activities under the auspices of SWAFA.

Ou Gold’s favourite footballers were Lemmy Narib, Five Hochobeb and Oscar Mengo.
May his soul rest in peace

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