What do the Gurirab clan and the beautiful game of football have in common? Well the answer is embedded in four attributes – courage, determination, dedication and pure strength.
In modern football, the MTC Premiership boasts a number of highly gifted footballers but only few have lasted the course and one of those athletes is Orlando Pirates’ utility defender Brian Gurirab.
His genes dictated he would be a footballer following in the footsteps of his old man Gotty Gurirab, a former Pirates versatile midfielder; and his uncle the gangling Ghosts striker Theobaldt “Momina” Gurirab.
And while the two Gurirab brothers Gotty and Theo went about their business tormenting defenders in the black and white colours of the Buccaneers – younger brother Gideon was busy making a name for himself at unfashionable Katutura outfit Hungry Lions, and in later years Khorixas outfit Robber Chanties.
A product of Khorixas, one would wonder as to why the strongly built Giddies, as Gideon was known among his circle of buddies, would join another team in the city of lights (Windhoek) than team up with his elder football playing brothers at Pirates.
The fairytale story of Giddies is quite simple; the muscular striker, at the time a student at the then revered Academy for Tertiary Education in Khomasdal, was turning out for the college team in a knockout tournament against Katutura outfit Hungry Lions. A heated argument with a Lions player (who happened to be the author) saw the pair exchange nasty words, and these were the exact words from the spoken tongue of Bra Giddies, “Don’t mess around with me, if you don’t know me just do some quick research and ask these boys (his team-mates) whom you are dealing with – Ek moer hulle.”
His clearly shocked and scary team-mates were in affirmation and that’s how Bra Giddies and the author got connected, earning respect for each other up to this day.
Soon afterwards Lions’ management, under the stewardship of the late Ben Uanivi and Molaiks Murirua, approached the strongly built striker to join forces with the club.
Giddies managed to persuade his team-mates from the college team, Ephraim Dawids (goalkeeper), Dr Mike Ochurub, Jomo Gallant and Nico Ankama to follow him and join Hungry Lions, and as they say, the rest is history.
In today’s edition, we profile the gentle giant who tormented defenders with speed and pure strength while his canon-like shots left many a goalkeeper with fractured fingers.
Gideon Gurirab, better known as Giddies in social circles, was born to a roaming detective police officer father in Gobabis in 1961.
Although he spent a significant chunk of his formative years in the Cattle Country – it was indeed at Khorixas where he rose to prominence.
His old man Lazarus, a well respected and much sought after cop, was transferred to Khorixas and Giddies found himself a new home at the Petrus Ganeb Secondary School in Uis.
A versatile athlete, the athletically built Giddies excelled in almost everything he laid his hands on – he established himself as the king of the track in the 1500m and had very little peers, if any, in the discus. He was also a noted javelin thrower.
And as if these were not enough, Bra Giddies became the undisputed schools boxing champion in the revered welterweight division.
“I started out in the school’s fourth team when I was doing Grade 11 and was eventually promoted to the first team the following year, the same year I joined Khorixas outfit local club Robber Chanties,” reveals Giddies.
His next stop was the city of lights (Windhoek) to advance his academic aspirations at the then revered Academy for Tertiary Education in 1981. Bra Giddies became an integral part of the star-studded college football team that campaigned in the popular Khomasdal football league.
Off the field, he was bestowed with the distinct honour of being chosen the first Tertiary Chairperson of the Housing Committee at the academy.
“The league was quite challenging but we assembled a very good team that competed fiercely against the likes of Civics and Arsenal, while we regularly took part in knockout tournaments. Our team did extremely well when we toured Cape Town, playing against very good teams from that neck of the woods.”
While playing for the college football team against the now-defunct Hungry Lions at the old compound stadium, Giddies was discovered by the club’s talent scouts.
“We knocked Hungry Lions out of the competition and the following day, which was on Monday, the late Ben Uanivi accompanied by the manager (Murirua) came to the campus. They managed to persuade me to join Hungry Lions. The club was campaigning in the more competitive Central Division Two League.”
Hungry Lions were also looking for a goalkeeper and requested Bra Giddies to flex his muscles and use his influence to sweet-talk the college’s agile shot stopper Ephraim (Dawids) to follow him to his new team.
The pair’s arrival at the maroon and white outfit also triggered interest from fellow college players Dr Mike Ochurub, Jomo Gallant and Nico Amkama.
Giddies’ arrival at Hungry Lions coincided with the departure of the club’s blue-eyed boy Foresta Nicodemus, who had just left his boyhood team to join Tigers in the rebel breakaway Namibia National Soccer League (NSSL) in 1985.
The team was short in the striking department with the club’s number one striker Justice Basson also having taken up employment in far away CDM in Oranjemund. He was thrown in at the deep end and was to form a telepathic partnership alongside Kallie Bilhawer and Nelson Hoveka in the Lions’ firing line.
Blessed with amazing speed, strength and unbelievable stamina, Bra Giddies added a new dimension to the Lions’ direct style of play and fitted like a hand in glove in the team’s newly introduced 4-4-2 formation.
Bra Giddies quickly established himself as a noted goal scorer while supplying numerous assists from the right flank. He would occasionally also help out in defence during set pieces and proved a good asset for the club.
He endeared himself to the club’s followers and team-mates as he would always come to the aid of his team-mates in times of confrontation. His imposing figure instilled fear in the opposition and he played a prominent role in the Lions’ cup triumph over the Celle Ochurub-inspired Chief Santos in the final of the popular Easter Trophy at the SKW Stadium.
Upon completion of his studies, Giddies was posted to Khorixas to take up a teaching job and the huge framed forward wasted little time as he threw in his weight with the town’s glamour football club Robber Chanties.
Chanties had in its armoury the likes of the troublesome //Haosemab siblings Paul, Peter and Eddy leading the front line, but the blue and gold outfit needed an imposing forward, who could roll with the punches and Bra Giddies proved just what the good doctor ordered.
He played a pivotal role in steering the exciting Khorixas outfit to the quarterfinals of the Metropolitan Knockout Cup in 1988. The club’s home ground became a slaughterhouse for many visiting teams, as the hosts barely tasted defeat on home soil.
Giddies was a valuable member of the squad and his retirement, which coincided with that of many of the club’s stalwarts, brought an end to the golden era – a situation that inevitably led to the demise of the once feared giants of Namibian football. In fact, the club has never recovered from that setback up to this day.
Upon his retirement from the game, Bra Giddies became an astute businessman owning a nightclub and grocery shop. He is the incumbent chief regional youth officer in the Kunene Region and also doubles as chairman of the Small Miners Association.
Despite all the accolades cousined with a well-decorated curriculum vitae (CV) it did not prevent him from realizing his boyhood dream, that of becoming a legal practitioner, having completed his LLB degree through the University of South Africa (Unisa) in June this year.
Apart from his impressive array of scholastic achievements, Bra Giddies ranks amongst some of the most successful communal cattle breeding farmers in the Kunene.