Back in the day, left-footed footballers were a rarity in the annals of domestic football – leaving room for a number of average athletes to ply their trade in topflight football without having to shed an ounce of sweat to deservedly earn a starting berth in the team.
Many football clubs operated with right-footed players on the left side, while some of these blokes could hardly stand on their left feet. One such beneficiary was the late African Stars robust defender Jacobus ‘Soetman’ Kaune, better known as ‘Suitcase’ or ‘Patjangua’, amongst his vast circles of friends and admirers.
His arrival at the star-studded Katutura glamour football club African Stars coincided with that of highly rated centre-back Willy Rwida, from Cape Town. He was roped in to replace ageing left back Eliah ‘Zorro’ Tjipuna in a backline that included Albert Tjihero, George Gariseb, Willy Katire, Kirie Tjituaiza, Amos Tjombe and Merino Kandonga.
He was left to live though in the shadows of his more celebrated teammates Kaika Kuzee, Oscar Mengo, Ben Kauejao, Willy Katire, Tjihero and Kaputji Kuhanga. However, Suitcase quickly established himself as a no-nonsense defender, who took no prisoners with his bone-crunching tackles, while his never-say-die-attitude endeared him to the hearts of the usually hard-to-please Reds followers.
In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sports feature, Tales of the Legends, New Era Sport takes you, our esteemed readers, through the life and abbreviated football journey of a departed defender.
Jacob ‘Soetman’ Kaune started his football career in the dusty streets of Katutura’s notorious Police Camp residential area.
He played alongside homeboys Bassie Mungunda, Haimbili Chacha Nicodemus, George Haimbondi, Uzera Kavendjaa-Maharero, Abner Tobias, Pascal Newaka and other talented youngsters in the neigbourhood.
He was amongst a small group of a few streetwise boys living in what was then considered the posh Katutura township, whereas most of his peers at the revered St Barnabas Senior Primary School hailed from Windhoek’s old location.
A tough-tackling left-footed boy, Soetman was always a starter at all the clubs he played for during his early years in the domestic set-up in the absence of proper league structures in those days.
He started off with a local football club by the name of Windhoek Defenders under the stewardship of South African contract migrant, the football-crazy Robert Myungula.
The team was primarily formed to give the less talented footballers more game time, as they struggled to carve out places for themselves in the star-studded African Stars outfit.
As fate would have it, the red and green strip outfit folded after its founder Myngula relocated to his native South Africa in the early 70s. The club’s demise coincided with the birth of another Katutura team, Flames Football Club, under three musketeers: Felix Kakuenje, Darius Tjakaurua and Issy Kahungi.
The trident football gurus were just a small army of municipal busdrivers, but their football acumen took domestic football by storm, as they brought a new dimension to the game. In no time, the newly established team quickly caught the imagination of football fans, as club bosses went on a signing spree, attracting the crème de la crème of local footballers.
Black Africa’s blue-eyed boy Albert ‘Boetie’ Louw led the influx of highly gifted footballers that included Brown Amwenye, Andehe Haimbondi, Kauri Bilhawer, Ringo Mbaze Kahiru, Moloi Amadhila and Simon Nuujoma, who all came on board to beef up an already formidable squad, armed with the likes of Oscar Mengo, Ronnie Kahuure, Asser Mbai, Willy Karirii Katire, Paul Tjikutima Kaurimuje, Rikua Tjongarero and Abe Katire, amongst a galaxy of stars in their midst.
Flames defied orders from football authorities to undertake a rebel tour to neighbouring South Africa and Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
The Namibian tourists also played two exhibition matches against strong teams from Bulawayo, having started their tour in Johannesburg, South Africa, where they played against teams from the rebel Federation Football League, a predominantly Coloured and Indian league.
Namibian football authorities did not take kindly to the tour and summarily resolved to suspend the lawbreakers from all football-related activities, leading to the demise of the gold and green outfit.
For some strange reason, the players were spared the rod, with only the club getting suspended. This led to an exodus of the playing personnel, thus opening the door for Soetman and others to seek greener pastures elsewhere.
He joined a fired-up African Stars outfit – fresh from having completed a league and cup double in their maiden season of multi-racial football in 1977. With the likes of Amos Tjombe and the injury-prone Merino Kandonga getting a bit long in the tooth, Soetman was laterally thrown into the lion’s den.
Apart from Kaputji Kuhanga, Stars were lacking in the left-sided department with both left-footed players, Katjimune ‘Smody’ Kamaheke and Zorro Tjipuna, falling way short of requirement at that level.
His arrival at Stars marked the onset of the club’s transformation period that saw a significant number of highly talented young footballers arriving at the club to unleash their full potential.
From the very first moment he made his debut for Stars, Soetman made his presence felt with rock-steady defensive play, blocking marauding strikers right in their tracks. Despite his lack of pace and average football virtuosity, Soetman was generally regarded as one of the finest left-backs to have ever donned the red, white and blue strip of ‘Okaserandu’.
The only other notable decent left backs were Timo ‘Lemmy’ Goagoseb (a right-footed player) and in the intervening years another boy with a juicy left foot, one Mannetjie Kaimu. The latter proved to be just what the good doctor had ordered for the team’s Achilles’ heel position.
Nevertheless, Soetman would go on and make the revered number 3 jersey his own property in a career spanning almost three seasons. Unfortunately, the tough-tackling fullback called it quits as a result of work commitments after he took up employment at the Metalbox Fishing Company in Walvis Bay in 1980.
Sadly, Patjangua, as Soetman or Suitcase was commonly known amongst his admirers, exited the game of life on August 2, 2000.