A product from Otjiwarongo, a place that bred a significant chunk of great athletes, Lewa, was a classic act. His astonishing customary sense of humour defied his agility between the sticks and calmness when put under pressure by rampant strikers.
An excellent reader of the game, the former Orlando Pirates Football Club gloves man made a name for himself and worked himself into the hearts of the usually hard-to-please Orlando Pirates diehards.
A protégé of the unofficial school of excellence, St Josephs Secondary School (Döbra), the likeable and handsome goalie announced his arrival by keeping a clean sheet en route to the Ghosts’ famous triumph over eternal rivals Black Africa in the final of the now-defunct Mainstay Cup.
Although young Eric Muinjo was the hero of that particular clash of the titans, Lewa played a pivotal role in that match. He arrogantly kept the rampant Black Africa strikers Bernard ‘Hassie’ Mingeri, George Martin, Rusten ‘Zukhile’ Mogane and Abraham ‘Speed Trap’ Goeieman, at bay with some breathtaking saves not seen before in our neck of the woods.
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 Sport brings you our esteemed reader the untold football journey of one the finest shot-stoppers in our history.
Katutura giants Orlando Pirates Football Club will go down in domestic football history as one of very few football entities that have always been blessed with decent goalkeepers, including the likes of Abel Nero, Jeremiah ‘Daggas’ Hochobeb, Japhet ‘Bump Jive’ Hellao, Patrick ‘Mabos’ Vries, the list is endless.
The abovementioned quartet played a significant role in hoisting the Ghosts’ flag at different intervals, but the arrival of a tall and skinny young fellow from Dobra brought a new dimension to the Ghosts’ style of play.
Lewa was your modern goalkeeper, always willing to take a risk by starting play from the back, launching quick counter-attacks by throwing the ball to unmarked defenders in open space. He was not your typical old-fashioned goalkeeper, who would hoof the ball up field and rather preferred to launch attacks from the back.
Stepping into the footsteps of legendary gloves man, the acrobatic Japhet ‘Bump Jive’ Hellao, was always going to be an insurmountable task to fulfill, but the Otjiwarongo-born Lewa certainly lived up to expectations.
Guarded by clever defenders led by the skillful Steve ‘Kalamazoo’ Stephanus, Frans Kazimbu, Totsie Afrikaner, Rudolph Naruseb, Alu Hummel and Ananias Nanuseb – Lewa was just what the good doctored had ordered and fitted like a hand in glove with the Ghosts’ newly adopted style of play under the stewardship of no-nonsense mentor, the late Dios ‘Zebo’ Engelbrecht.
His exploits between the sticks made him one of much sought-after shot stoppers in the business and it came as no surprise when he was selected to represent his native land at the annual South African Provincial Tournament, the Currie Cup, in neigbouring South Africa on several occasions.
Apart from football, a jolly fellow, Lewa established himself as a seasoned news reporter with the South West Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SWABC), later renamed NBC upon Namibia’s ascent to democracy in 1990.
He kept goal during Pirates’ 5-3 win in the Mainstay Cup final against Sport Klub Windhoek (SKW) at a half-packed Windhoek stadium in 1979, when Pirates defended the coveted trophy successfully – only to be denied by a highly debated boardroom decision.
The Dios Engelbrecht coached Buccaneers defeated Imawida hands down 5-3 after extra time. However, for some strange reason the trigger-happy football officials declared the defeated German outfit as winners – citing Pirates’ late arrival as the primary reason for the dubious decision.
The Katutura outfit arrived 45-minutes late for the scheduled kick-off time. The decision irked the Ghosts’ entire playing personnel and supporters to the extent that they declined to receive their silver medals, believing it to be daylight robbery, as football matches should be played and won on the football pitch – certainly not on the green table. But those were the days when most decisions were based on the colour of your skin.
Born Gottfried Awaseb in Otjiwarongo, on the April 4, 1957, Lewa started playing street football in the dusty streets of his native town, where he started his primary school before he moved to St Joseph’s Secondary School (Döbra) northeast of Namibia’s commercial capital, Windhoek.
The football crazy goalie joined Sorento Bucks Football, a hostel team where he played alongside established footballers Stu Damaseb, Bonifatius Willy Kariirii Katire, aka Garrincha, Laurence Uri-Khob and many other talented young footballers at the school.
Like all other newcomers, Lewa had to go through the ranks, starting with the school’s second strings.
There is an old saying that luck favours those who wait, and fortunately, with both butterfingered Naftali ‘Cakes’ Naobeb and Ephraim Riruako having made a habit of letting in goals like they were going out of fashion – it was inevitable that the agile Lewa would be thrown into the lion’s den to man the sticks for the star-studded Döbra first team. And as they say, the rest is history.
As fate would dictate, Lewa took a bow from the game of life at the age of 52. He died on the December 2, 2009 and was buried in his hometown, Otjiwarongo. We salute this great athlete.
May his soul rest in peace.