Tears of joy and ecstasy flowed freely down ageing cheeks of retired footballers from Katutura glamour football club African Stars when they were reunited with former coach Dieter Widmann and versatile defender Willy Rwida, at a local eatery on Sunday evening.
The pair, who have since relocated to their native Germany and South Africa respectively, are on a visit to their adopted land and were caught by surprise when a significant number of retired Stars legends arrived unannounced at a secretly kept gathering at the spacious Joe’s Beer House.
The Reds legends were led by former club blue-eyed boy, the great Oscar ‘Silver Fox’ Mengo, arguably one of the finest footballers to have emerged from our shores, bulky midfield general Ben ‘Doc’ Naobeb, lethal goal poacher Bethuel ‘Ace’ Tjirera, versatile defender Asser Mbai and the ever present overlapping fullback George Gariseb.
Both Widmann and Rwida are accredited as the men who had turned a fairly average Stars squad into formidable opponents. The pair brought a new dimension to the team’s unimpressive style of the long ball (kick and run football).
Rwida recalled the sporadically strong words accompanied by verbal assaults he used to exchange with former club stalwart Amos ‘Superman’ Tjombe over the latter’s point-blank refusal to build attacks from the back.
“Those were the good old days my broer, I really enjoyed my time with this great club and had independence arrived a bit earlier during our time, I’m damn sure many of us would have gone on to greater heights.
“We had a bunch of highly gifted committed athletes, and could beat any team at any given time with our dedication and unbelievable camaraderie within the squad.”
Widmann, who arrived in the then South West Africa as an attaché for the Deutsche Horere Privatschule (DHPS), had to endure all sorts of threats from local authorities, ranging from deportation and possible jail time for his involvement with an unwanted Bantu institution.
The tough as steak German national would not budge and would double up taking both the Reds and DHPS football teams through training sessions – much to the dislike of Advocate Louis Pienaar’s administration under the South African apartheid regime.
The combination of Widmann and Rwida steered Stars to a cup double as the fired-up Reds claimed both the prestigious national league title and the country’s knockout cup competition, the now defunct much revered Mainstay Cup, during the inaugural edition of multiracial football in 1977.
The players and their former gaffer mingled freely, cracking jokes and reliving the good old days.
The casual gathering resolved to host a reunion next year to celebrate 40 years of multi-racial football in Namibia since ‘Stalile’ rewrote the history books at the pocket-size packed to the rafters Windhoek Showgrounds.