There are so many people to whom Namibian football is indebted and must give special thanks.
Surely, we would be doing an injustice to Ramblers Football Club if football authorities and followers do not acknowledge the club’s unheralded contribution towards the growth and transformation of domestic football since the days of segregation.
The club boasts a unique and rich history in the annals of Namibian football. They were the first sports entity to open its doors to athletes of colour, an unpopular move that was very much against the wisdom of their conservative members – some of whom severed ties with the club.
Ramblers claimed the highly competitive Central League during the initial period of multi-racial football in 1977, only to be pipped to the line by eventual double champions African Stars in a tightly contested final of the national play-offs.
Rammies also had to play second fiddle to the Katutura glamour football club in the final of the Mainstay Cup that same season. Both matches were contested at the compact Windhoek Showground.
After the inevitable breakup that saw disgruntled clubs from the black community form their own league in 1985, the Namibia National Soccer League (NSSL), Rammies went into obscurity, campaigning in the less competitive and predominantly white Amateur Soccer League (ASA).
Against all odds, Rammies bounced back after Namibia’s Independence in 1990 to gain a place in the country’s united elite league, following marathon play-offs in the coastal town of Swakopmund.
It was left to Jorge and his striking partner, the equally dangerous Juku Tjazuko, to spearhead the fairly average team’s revival.
Now back in familiar territory, club management burned the midnight oil, recruiting the crème de la crème of Namibian footballers, with the likes of Donkey Madjiet, Nikita Hivei, Roydon Manale, Tollie van Wyk, Rudi Pahl, Brian Chatburn, Joseph Martin, Dove Fransman, Reney Klaazen, Peter Swaertze, Willy Fredericks, Larney Madjiet and Angolan import Mundu Camana all signed to bolster the star-studded squad under the stewardship of shrewd mentor Gary Sales.
After a see-saw affair in the first season of competitive topflight football in democratic Namibia, Ramblers finally came out of its shell the following year to claim the coveted league title.
Although Rammies failed to clear the hurdle in the first round – losing 2-1 on aggregate to Mozambican opponents Costa Da Sol – the Namibian amateurs made their presence felt and went on to enjoy a good season, reaching two cup finals in the process.
However, history repeated itself when Rammies fell short again, losing both finals of the Metropolitan and Castle Classics Cup against eternal rivals African Stars.
Born in Lubango, Angola of Portuguese parents in 1968, Jorge and his family found themselves caught up in the crossfire as the result of the escalating civil war in that country. The family eventually fled to then South West Africa (SWA) in 1974.
He started his schooling at the revered Emma Hoogenhout English medium primary school in Windhoek and this is where he started kicking a football.
“Luckily, the school did not have rugby structures and most kids only took part in football, hockey and cricket. I played a bit of hockey, because it was more similar to football, but football was always my preferred choice.”
Next stop was the High Technical School (HTS) in Academia where the football crazy young lad established himself as a formidable squad member of the school’s first team.
“Actually I had a choice of going to Centaurus, but they did not have a football team, hence my decision to switch to HTS. We assembled a very good squad, including the Viljoen brothers Jose, Gino and Nico, as well as the Tavares siblings, Jose and Alvaro.”
Young Jorge led the firing line when HTS narrowly went down 1-0 against Dan-Boy Ndjadila’s inspired Augustineum High School team in the final of a cup tournament 1986.
Having represented SWA in all age groups as a promising youngster, Jorge’s exploits did not go unnoticed. He was duly selected to represent his adopted country in the annual South African Provincial Youth Tourney, the Currie Cup in Cape Town South Africa in 1986.
The star-studded Namibian side, that included Frankie Fredericks, Brian Isaacs, Ringo Skrywer, Lutz Jagstube, Bernard Diocothle and Sandro de Gouveia, deservedly won the Under-16 youth tourney, with Kosie Springbok netting the winner in the 1-0 triumph against tournament favourites and hosts Western Province.
Aged 15, Jorge made his debut in senior football when he played for Ramblers against bitter rivals SKW in the annual derby (Pokal) in 1986, which Rammies won 2-1 under the stewardship of no-nonsense coach Amorin Alvaro.
His arrival at Rammies coincided with the club’s breakaway from the highly competitive Central Football Association (CFA).
He cites former teammate Mark Kuzner as his favourite footballer during his playing days, while he speaks with fear of the robust and burly former Life Fighters defender, Sipho Kauripeke.
“In all honesty, I always had butterflies running riot in my belly whenever I came up against that huge-framed dude, he was quite a tough nut to crack and could do one like a louse,” he concludes.
After a couple of matches in the second team, Jorge was promoted to the first team, where he was to become the team’s leading striker, alongside the often volatile, but equally dangerous Mario Rodriques and fleet-footed Tony Barbour.
He also had a short stint with Khomasdal outfit Young Ones between 1995 and 1996 before he returned to Ramblers, where he was to retire prematurely as a result of a career-ending knee injury.