Tribute to unheralded Reds star, Bobby ‘Poppy’ Tjiho 1964 – 2016

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Windhoek

The late Bobby Tjiho was born in Windhoek’s Old Location on the 2nd of October, 1964. Like many of his peers from the neigbourhood in the Katutura township, young Bobby started his primary schooling at the revered St Barnabas Senior Primary School in Windhoek.

Younger brother to the sports-crazy siblings that include former African Stars shot stopper Ratjindua Katjimune, former Augustineum High School and Jaguars Rugby Club stalwart Gerson Katjimune, former Flames FC and Dobra footballer-cum-boxer turned long-distance runner Job Tjiho as well net guard Nicolas ‘Kandla’ Tjiho – Bobby’s genes dictated that he would be a notable athlete.

Like many youngsters his age, Bobby started chasing an inflated piece of leather in the dusty streets of Katutura and rose to prominence when he started playing organized football with Cosmos Football Club.

Founder members were Nahason Tjetjita Katuuo, Willy Nependa, Patrick ‘Madala’ Kaizemi, Ngororo ‘Hijamaori’ Katiko, Pecka ‘Meester’ Semba, Kauraa ‘Spook’ Katjiruru, Totii Hanavi and many other enthusiastic young footballers.

The newly formed team mostly competed in unsanctioned knockout cup tournaments in small village towns such as Groot-Aub, Aranos, Rehoboth, Dordabis, Gobabis, Omaruru and Otjimbingwe.

Inevitably, Cosmos was turned into an unofficial feeder team for the emerging Hungry Lions with the result that young Bobby and his equally celebrated team-mate Mandala Kaizemi were the first pair to be lured to the Lion’s den.
As time went by, the exciting Cosmos outfit would become amongst the finest teams when they joined the newly established popular Central Namibia Football Association (CNFA) League under the shrewd stewardship of Namibia’s football guru, uncle Bobby Sissing, in the mid-eighties.

Alongside Swansea, Luton, Civics, fellow Katutura giants Sorento Bucks and Benfica, Cosmos was amongst the serious title contenders in the popular Khomasdal league that drew large crowds to their matches.

His rock-steady defensive capabilities did not escape the eyes of the selectors as both Bobby and his Cosmos teammate Madala were selected to represent the league’s Invitational Eleven against their visiting South African counterparts.

Young Bobby rose to prominence when he jumped ship alongside Madala to join Katutura giant killers Hungry Lions in the more competitive Central Football League (CFA) in 1984.

Still relatively young and inexperienced, the pair quickly established themselves as regular starters in the star-studded Lions’ den with young Bobby slotting in alongside Manuel ‘Pornjor’ Mendos, Douglas Tjazera, Hauii ‘Toy’ Kamaundju and Dr Mike Ochurub to form the backbone of the maroon and white strip’s uncompromising rearguard.
Bobby’s near faultless displays in the heart of the Hungry Lions defence alerted African Stars scouts who tiptoed to his elder brothers for divine intervention.

The boy developed itchy feet and heeded the call from his elders as he jumped ship to join forces with boyhood team African Stars. Ironically, he joined an ageing Reds outfit in transition with the old guard fazing out.

Bobby faced a fire of baptism as he was slotted into the problematic left back position. And to worsen matters, the skinny fullback was bestowed with the distinct honour of wearing the revered number 10 jersey vacated by club legend Oscar ‘Silver Fox’ Mengo – certainly not the kindest of welcomes any newcomer and a rookie for that matter would have cherished.

Nevertheless, Bobby grew in stature and went on to establish himself as a pillar of strength in the Reds’ fearless line-up.

He was to form a telepathic partnership with stalwarts, George Gariseb, Vemuna ‘Roadblock’ Hoveka, Nico ‘Captain Fantastic’ Hindjou and evergreen goalie (his cousin) the reliable Asaria Ndjiva Kauami manning the sticks.

Sadly, as fate would dictate, Bobby’s immensely flourishing football career came to an abrupt end as a result of multiple career-threatening injuries.

Bobby fractured his leg on no less than three occasions and could not sufficiently recover – thus bringing an end to an otherwise illustrious football career that earned him the admiration of football followers across the country. He was also adored and well respected by the opposition for his sportsmanship.

At the time of his untimely death Bobby was in the employ of the ministry of transport where he held the position of senior administration officer.

The deceased was unmarried and leaves behind four children, three sons and a daughter. May his soul rest in eternal peace in one piece.

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