The unknown side of Ambassador Japhet Isaack

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Uncharacteristically, back in the day, there was an exciting football team strictly under the guidance of three different clans, the Engelbrechts, Garisebs and Jaggers.

Brothers/cousins Zebo (Dios), Piet (Electric Power), Buruxa and Hendrik were proud representatives of the Engelbrecht siblings while Jan, Steve, Max and popular school principal Molan ushered the close-knit Gariseb clan into the set-up.

Uncompromising late politician/community activist, Jeremiah Jagger (Rocky’s old man) was the commander in chief of the Jagger family.

That team began life as Rocco Swallows Football Club in Windhoek’s Old Location but was later renamed Ramblers after it amalgamated with rivals Jungle Boys FC.
The latter, an unfashionable Dolam outfit, had in its armoury a highly gifted tricky slippery winger that every coach would have loved to have in their starting line-up.

However, the skillful soft-spoken tiny boy, blessed with a delicious left foot, going by the name of Petrus “Nerab” Gariseb, aka //Noas, was a loyal servant and very committed to his team. He would not be easily persuaded to change his allegiance to the maroon and white strip outfit (Rocco Swallows) and stayed put.

In today’s edition, we reveal the untold story of a jolly good fellow, the much-adored Namibian Ambassador to Egypt, comrade Japhet Isaack.
New Era Sport relives Isaack’s unheralded breathtaking exploits between the sticks and goalkeeping virtuosity that rightly placed him amongst the finest gloves men this country has ever produced.

Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa
Windhoek

At the dawn of the 70’s, Katutura outfit Rocco Swallows Football Club were in dire need of a perfect striking partner for the free-scoring ageing Martin “Zika-Okambua Kombandi” Williams (Smithley Engelbrecht’s old man).

Sadly, their preferred target, the slippery Petrus //Noas Gariseb (Nerab) would not budge – thus obliging both Swallows and his team Jungle Boys to merge the two entities into one combined unit and form Ramblers FC.

The merger obliged Swallows to do away with their favourite regular white colours, while Jungle Boys reciprocated the gesture by surrendering their traditional blue strip, retaining the gold to pave the way for the new club’s maroon and gold strip.
The new team started to make serious inroads into domestic football but its progress was halted by some sloppy goalkeeping by ageing towering shot stopper Cham //Amgabeb.

Club management urgently needed a replacement and very quickly for that matter if they were to arrest the slump.
The club acted swiftly by recruiting upcoming agile shot stopper Japhet Isaack from Augustineum High School on the outskirts of Katutura Township and as they say, the rest is history.

The energetic young goalie was the talk of the town and became the toast of the club’s diehards, including the neutral football follower, with some adrenaline-pumping saves that would have left seasoned net guards Jeremiah “Daggas” Hochobeb, Abel Nero, Eddy Cloete, Bollie Kandonga, uncle Ben Tempo and Asaria Ndjiva Kauami green with envy.
The Afro-haired goal minder was faced with the huge task of stepping into the big boots of Augustineum High School former football team idol and namesake Japhet “Bump Jive Hellao.

The light-skinned goalie with boyish looks from the south in no time acquitted himself extremely well under trying circumstances, bringing much needed stability to a previously habitual leaky rearguard.

Bro Jeff was to be shielded by one of the most underrated centre backs of his era, one Tarirob Gariseb aided by the tireless pair of tough tackling defenders Johannes Nawitib Gariseb and Hendrik Engelbrecht.

Though the Garisebs would constantly dominate the Ramblers’ team sheets with no less than six or seven players in the starting line-up, ironically some of the squad members carrying the popular Gariseb surname were not necessarily related to one another.
The relatively young and inexperienced net guard arrived in Windhoek in the early 70’s to further his academic aspirations at the revered Augustineum Secondary School from his native village town Berseba in the south.

As was customary practice for those emerging from the south, it was a given that bro Jeff would join forces with Southern Empire – a football team at the hostel made up of predominantly Nama students from the south.

After a short stint with Southern Empire, the agile goalie (Jeff) sent shockwaves amongst his homeboys who felt betrayed when he developed itchy feet to join hostel rivals Golden Bees – a formidable team laden with a significant chunk of young footballers from the freezing Atlantic Ocean.

Well, they don’t say it too loud but whispers doing the rounds in the gossip corridors have it that an extremely gorgeous lass blessed with a perfectly structured pair of legs hailing from that neck of the woods apparently turned bro Jeff’s head around.

The brother lost further interest in featuring for Empire, ultimately culminating in a shocking switch of allegiance to the Bees’ nest – much to the chagrin of his fellow southerners.

Bro Jeff rose to prominence when he started keeping goal for Katutura outfit Ramblers, which was to be known as ‘Ramkat’ after the inevitable introduction of multiracial football in the then South West Africa under the South African apartheid regime in 1977.

At the time, the highly competitive Central Football Association League (CFA) also had a team carrying the same name Ramblers. The football authority saw it fit to resolve that the Katutura outfit be referred to as ‘Ramkat’, a shortened name for Ramblers Katutura.
In no time the acrobatic schoolboy goalie cemented his place amongst the finest shot stoppers in the business and was rated highly by local football pundits.

As fate would have it bro Jeff, a noted political activist during his turbulent student days, could no longer stomach the skewed apartheid laws cousined by human rights restrictions and discriminatory regulations hogging the headlines at the time.

A defiant hardcore militant, bro Jeff just had enough and finally resolved to skip the country of his birth to start a new life in exile.

Upon his arrival in Lusaka, Zambia, the acrobatic gloves man was drafted straight into the starting line-up of the United Nations Institute for Namibia (UNIN) football team where he kept goal under the stewardship of now Namibian Head of State Dr Hage Geingob.

The star-studded outfit, comprising mainly of Namibian exiles, was led by former greats Zondi Amadhila, Johnny Veiko, Lemmy Lazarus, Benny Petrus, Erich Lambert, Jason Kayala Haufiku, Bush Menjengua and Naftalie “Cakestroh” Naobeb, aka Koekie amongst others in its line-up.

The team would engage in highly competitive entertaining exhibition clashes against strong local clubs – much to the delight of the large crowds.

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