It all started back in the day in 1945 when a group of defiant young men in the employment of giant financial institution Standard Bank resolved to call into life a social institution, which they baptised Ramblers Football Club.
After a couple of practice sessions at the old Talpark fields in Central Windhoek – the team played its first official match in Okahandja against the town’s Mannschaft, that same year.
Ramblers’ coat of arms embroiled in the phrase ‘Aequitas’ as motto was adopted soon afterwards. Aequitas translates to the much-trumpeted and modernised slogan of FIFA, meaning fair play.
Members undertook an oath to always bear in mind when representing Ramblers on and off the fields or any other engagements. Four years after its birth, the club expanded its horizons and incorporated the men’s hockey section, with the ladies hockey section following suit two years later.
In the intervening years, Ramblers beefed up its membership, spreading their wings to other sporting codes, such as softball, cricket, water polo, swimming and volleyball. For some reason the abovementioned disciplines undertook the inevitable path of the dinosaur.
However, in the 80s, field archery came on board, while the Bassmasters Anglers also joined the fray after Namibia’s Independence. The latest addition to become part of the Ramblers family was the Striders Fitness Club at the beginning of 2003.
On the field, Rammies, as the club is affectionately known amongst its ardent followers, has always been a force to be reckoned with. Rammies has probably won more championship titles and trophies in any particular sporting discipline it participated in than any other sports club in local history.
In addition, the club contributed more players to the respective national teams over the years than their counterparts.
Former skipper of the national senior ladies hockey team Silke Pennefather and deputy captain of the national senior men’s hockey side, Reagon Graig, are both products of Ramblers, born and bred in Tunschel Strasse.
Footballer Henrico Botes, captained the Brave Warriors following in the footsteps of former Ramblers stalwarts Hasso Ahrens, Bobby Craddock, Rudi Pahl, Tollie van Wyk, Gunther Hellinghausen and Don Corbett, who all skippered representative teams at different intervals.
As it stands, the legacy continued and many a neutral football fan would scorn to own the author in a lie and would probably all agree that the only constant thing in life is change. Modern society is characterised by increasing competition, a battle for survival of the toughest, less time for fellow citizens, a growing need for materialistic values – in short, egoism is flourishing.
“Our role as a sports club is to counterbalance these modern trends by promoting teamwork, companionship and unity.
“We might have different backgrounds, maybe even different cultures, or levels of education, but one thing is certain: at the Ramblers Club we believe in unity in diversity,” says club chairman Harald Hecht.
Rolling back the years to 1981 during the apartheid era, Ramblers became infamous amongst hardcore conservatives when the club masterminded the integration of athletes of colour into its structures, opening its doors to all races, irrespective of their religion, skin colour, political affiliation, cultural belief and association.
The move angered some of the club’s stalwarts, with dozens severing ties with the club they had built into an empire. Nevertheless, Rammies, under the shrewd stewardship of no-nonsense wide-awake club official Manuel Coelho persisted in its stance and would not budge.
The unpopular decision would ultimately benefit the club in a big way in the intervening years, as Rammies remained one of very few if any fully-fledged multi-racial clubs in Namibia.
Over the years, the profile of the membership changed significantly and this was evidence with the introduction of the VIP Club in 1997, consisting of eight members that led to the foundation for development and improvement of the club’s facilities.
During the last few years, changes have been effected to the lapa and clubhouse, while new changing rooms for the ladies were constructed – all financed via the VIP Club. Sports codes pay membership fees on an affiliation basis, depending on various criteria such as the number of persons per code and usage of the facilities.
One of its affiliates, the football section – Ramblers FC – has transformed from amateur to semi-professional status over the last four years. The transformation was made possible by the club’s valued sponsor, Windhoek Optics and was boosted by funds generated from the annual Top Score 7-a-side tourney for companies, an event that is professionally managed (including all statistics published on the Ramblers’ website) and has grown in popularity over the years.
Another active member of the Ramblers family is the Old Boys section, the backbone of the organisational and logistical aspects of the Club.
The hockey section has also been very successful in the past, notably in the past decade. As it stands, the majority of national field and indoor hockey titles were captured, while a significant number of Ramblers players represented Namibia at the Africa Championships and Commonwealth games.
But there was also a setback when the men’s hockey division broke away from Ramblers in 1999. Thanks largely to the initiative of Silke Pennefather and Anke Haensel a men’s team is representing Ramblers in men’s hockey again since 2003. The football team suffered relegation in 2006 only to bounce back in 2011.
Also noteworthy is the youth development initiative started two years ago. The results of all these efforts speak volumes.
Ramblers hockey boasts 17 national hockey players across the entire hockey spectrum from under-13 girls, under-16 boys, under-16 girls, under-21 boys, as well as national men and national ladies teams.
This is indeed a commendable effort. Reagon Graig and Silke Pennefather are also actively involved in coaching the various Ramblers sides, in addition to serving the Namibian senior national teams in their respective captaincy roles. Other coaches, such as Anke Haensel, who is also the coach of the Namibian under-21 boys side, and Marc Nel, son of Ramblers honorary life member, the late Chris Nel.
Ramblers Bassmasters was formed in 1999 and currently consists of 30 members, including juniors. In angling competitions held over the last years in neigbouring South Africa, the majority of the national team members were recruited from the Rambler’s team.
In the past, the Namibian team defeated South Africa and Swaziland in an international angling competition on the Vaal River, while Ramblers Bassmasters members, such as Evan van der Westhuizen, Herman Reinders, Anton Halgreen and Jaco van der Westhuizen have broken various Namibian records over the last five years.
“As a matter of fact, any institution or any other person that reaches 70 years of existence is doubtlessly an astonishing milestone in one’s lifetime. On that note, I would like to wish and congratulate Ramblers Club and all its members with these achievements while paying tribute to those who kept the ‘Rammies’ flag flying high all these years,” Hecht said.
“Without change there can be no break-throughs. Without break-throughs, there can be no future,” concluded the highly respected football administrator.