Although there is no fixed date yet as to when the MTC Premiership will kick off, local teams are not resting on their laurels and have knuckled down to some serious business to prepare for the new season.
One such team is the league’s debutants, Young Chiefs, the only representative in the country’s topflight league from the vast Oshana region. The league’s new boys remain a relatively closed book to many, but the club boasts a long and impressive history since starting out playing on dusty fields during its formative years.
Ironically, a football-crazy woman known as Sissy Shilunga founded the club, which still goes by the nickname “Amathekies”, at her residence in Oshakati-west in 1989. The majority of the playing personnel were part of a disgruntled breakaway group from the town’s leading club, Golden Bees, who struggled to make it into the first team.
The late Findji Nandjuwa masterminded their defection and was amongst the key players in the squad, playing a significant role in helping to modernise the team’s playing philosophy.
Chiefs adopted an attractive style of attacking football, which has been their trademark since the club’s formation.
Nandjuva was to form a dangerous combination with Sion Hanai, better known as “Chester”, and the dangerous Shilunga siblings.
The club started out playing competitive football in the then popular Punyu League, sponsored by the late flamboyant businessman Jairus Shikale. The league attracted teams from nearby villages in 1995.
In 1997, Chiefs gained promotion to the First Division, but their lodging was abbreviated three years later. As fate would have it, the club was back in familiar territory after suffering relegation in the 2000 season.
Despite the setback, Amathekies settled into the Second Division, where they were to spend eleven consecutive seasons – winning the league a record five times.
However, the team would often stumble during the play-offs for promotion to the country’s second tier league, the National Northern Stream League, failing to negotiate their way past the play-offs in four unsuccessful attempts.
Nevertheless, perseverance finally paid off when the team was promoted in the 2013/2014 season to the First Division, but a modest 5th place finish was not enough to gain a spot in the promotion play–offs.
The coach-less club stepped up their efforts and went on the rampage the following season, leading the North-West First Division from start to finish to be crowned champions in Outjo, following a goalless draw against title rivals and hosts, Golden Bees.
Chiefs never had a qualified coach during their long sojourn in the lower divisions, and despite all their accolades the club suffered its worst league defeat courtesy of a 9-1 hammering at the hands of Omeege Unite.
They were also at the receiving end of a 17-2 thrashing by Ramblers in the FC Cup.
In the meantime, the community club has appointed Alex Iitumba as interim coach while its club chairman, Vaino Amuthenu, will manage administrative affairs. Chiefs will be using the spacious Oshakati Independence and the Uukwangula Sport stadiums as their home grounds.