Tribute to an unsung athlete Jerry “Jairzinho” Tobias, 1953 – 2016

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 Former Blue Waters, Augustineum High School and Tigers football clubs’ fast as lightning forward Jeremiah Tobias knew just how to torment robust opposing defenders with sheer skill, complimented by amazing speed A rare gem, the handsome young man whose looks resembled that of a pop star, started his football career back in his adopted home suburb of Kuisebmond, Walvis Bay, featuring for coastal giants Blue Waters. However, Jerry only rose to prominence when he arrived in the city of lights Windhoek to further his academic aspirations at the revered Augustineum Secondary School in 1969. Ironically, he could not immediately carve himself a starting berth in the school’s star-studded first team, as he was competing with the equally dangerous pair of Johnny Veiko and the versatile Manfred “Bush’ Menjengua for the right wing berth. Bra Jerry had to be content with sporadic appearances for the school’s first team, while playing regularly for the second strings.

 

It was while at Augustineum that his immense talent was spotted by talent scouts from Tigers during a time when the country’s oldest football club was in a rebuilding process, following the shocking death of its most prized asset Times Mwetuyela, worsened by the inevitable retirement of many of its star players who were at their sell-by date. Filling the relatively heavy boots of the late trio of the legendary strike force consisting of Mwetuyela, Zebulon ‘Honnie’ Ochurub and Ferdinand ‘Buti Ferre’ Akwenye, aka, ‘the Slippery Fox’, was always going to be an insurmountable assignment. Nevertheless, young Jerry quickly settled in like a hand in glove, forming a telepathic deadly combination with fellow students Johannes Pwiro Hangula, Johnny Veiko and Jason Kayala Haufiku.

 

In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sports feature Tales of the Legends, profiling our sports heroes and heroines, past and present, New Era Sports mourns the death and in the same breath celebrates the life of an unsung icon Jerry Tobias, alias ‘Jairzinho’, an all-rounder whose astonishing academic achievements defied the misplaced notion that one cannot mix sports and politics with school books. A shrewd political activist and fitness fanatic, the late Jerry Tobias was born on the 11th of January 1953 in Usakos, Erongo Region.

 

He began his flourishing football career at coastal outfit Rickets FC, an unfashionable non-league football entity from Kuisbemnond, Walvis Bay, under the guidance of well known trade unionist, the Jimmy Hendrix lookalike Daniel ‘Slugger’ Imbili in the mid-sixties (1960’s). His boyhood buddy Ranga Lucas describes the late Jerry as a mild-mannered fellow who could hardly harm a fly but ruthless in front of goal. “As young boys, we started out at a club going by the name of Rickets FC, consisting of young enthusiastic footballers with Slugger as team captain. We competed fiercely against other non- league teams around the township and in Swakopmund,” reveals Ranga Jerry was among the very first entrants during the inauguration year of the Ruiter Primary School in Kuisebmond in 1960. Upon completion of his primary schooling, he moved to Windhoek where he was to further his studies at the Augustineum Secondary School in 1969. For all his amazing talent, Jerry could not easily break into the Augustineum school first team and had to be satisfied with a starting berth in the school’s second team. Nonetheless, the brother took solace in the old adage that if one door closes, another one opens.

 

He excelled on the athletics track where he showed his competitors a clean pair of heels in the sprints. During the school holidays, young Jerry would always retreat to his adopted hometown Walvis Bay where he prominently featured for Blue Waters’ second strings Although he could not break into both the Blue Waters and Augustineum first teams, Jerry’s name was always among the first on the team list of Tigers’ first team. He became an instant hit and crowd favourite among the usually hard-to-please Ingwe Inyama followers As fate would dictate, Jerry’s flourishing football career was brought to a premature end through a bone-crunching tackle deposited by the robust boot of the late Obed Kapepu, aka ‘Gorilla’, while turning out for Katutura glamour football club African Stars as a guest player in an exhibition match against Orlando Pirates at the Katutura municipal stadium (NFA Technical Centre).   However, that nasty career-ending tackle eventually turned out to be a blessing in disguise as Jerry was now able to concentrate fully on his academic studies unhindered. Next stop was the revered University of the North (nowadays the Limpompo University), where he obtained a degree in education. He was also the proud holder of a master’s degree in education from the University of Venda.   The author had the privilege of getting to know bra Jerry close up when he joined the Namibian Broadcasting (NBC) Training Department (TD) in 1992. Bra Jerry was a true son of the soil, always down to earth, remained humble and would make time to make those around him feel comfortable, whenever the situation demanded. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

 

 

 

 

 

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