Former no-nonsense Tigers defender, the now-departed Samuel Tiwi Kaundje, was among a few highly gifted young athletes who enjoyed the rare privilege of learning and mastering the art of the beautiful game under proper conditions at a fairly early age.
A product of Katutura township, Bro Tiwi lived a stone’s throw from the then revered Katutura municipal sportsfield and it was here that he mingled with his boyhood buddies.
The likes of Frank Fredericks, Bloffie Ngaizuvare, the football crazy Nicodemus siblings, Forra, Pro, Nepela and Computer, the Haimbodi brothers, George and Mike ‘Hey’, as well as other talented young athletes from the notorious Police Camp neighbourhood all resided within close proximity of the much-frequented multi-sports facility.
Whereas many of their peers would chase inflated plastic bags in the dusty streets of Katutura, Tiwi and his buddies from the hood enjoyed the luxury of strutting their stuff at the well-graveled Katutura municipal field.
It was while competing in these stake games that he caught the eye of talent scouts from unfashionable Katutura outfit Hungry Lions Football Club in the 80s.
Hardly out of his shorts, the tallish defender was snapped up by the ‘Fearless Lions of Judah’, where he was to be dubbed ‘Oka fully kondomba’ (the young fullback with the French-plaited hairstyle).
Partnering the fearless Manuel Mendos, aka ‘Pornjor’ in the heart of the Lions robust rearguard – young Twii fitted the bill perfectly well.
In no time at all the young defender rose to prominence, capturing the imagination of football followers with his trademark bone-crunching tackles, accompanied by his canon-like long-range deliveries from dead ball situations.
Inspired by his near faultless displays week in and week out, it was just a matter of time before the soft-spoken beanpole rookie centreback moved a step up.
Inevitably, he would jump ship from the tier two campaigners to the top level, resurfacing at Donkerhoek in the blue and white strip of Katutura giants Tigers Football Club – much to the chagrin of disappointed supporters of his boyhood team, African Stars, who desperately courted the young football virtuoso to switch his allegiance to the Reds.
In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sports feature, Tales of the Legends, New Era Sport brings to you, our esteemed reader, the undocumented and amazing football journey of this unheralded son of the soil, whose undying loyalty towards Tigers propelled him to blow his last breath on motherly earth while in the line of duty for his beloved Ingwe.
Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa
Windhoek-Walking in the footsteps of a club legend has never been an easy task for young and relatively inexperienced athletes. However, the late Tigers’ defensive kingpin, Samuel Tiwi Kaundje, defied all odds stacked against him and surprised friend and foe by acquitting himself well, even under trying conditions.
Young Tiwi was literally thrown into the Tigers’ den when he was roped in to replace ageing stalwart defender, Hofney ‘Grey’ Umati, a club legend who was already in the twilight of his spotless football career and getting a bit long in the tooth.
His predecessor was regarded by many as one of the most polished and versatile athletes in the business and a lot was expected from the fairly unknown youngster to fill the void with a certain measure of distinction.
Tiwis’s arrival at Ingwe coincided with the club’s transformation process that saw a significant number of youngsters having been promoted from the club’s reserve team to premiership campaigners.
The likeable and soft-spoken defender found himself in the good company of highly gifted young footballers Ndapewa ‘Bricks’ Hangula, Lucky Iyambo, Forra Nicodemus, Gabes Christoph, Kondja Andreas, Doc Shiimi, Jason Juuso and Allu Ilonga.
A dead ball specialist, Tiwi was your typical old-fashioned defender and many likened his robust way of instilling fear into troublesome marauding strikers to that of former South West Africa (SWA) and Black Africa hard tackler Benjamin ‘Spokes’ Tibinyane.
In only his debut season with Ingwe, Tiwi won silverware when the revamped Tigers outfit and brushed their opponents aside to claim the coveted eight-team Namibia Super Soccer League title (NSSL) in the inaugural edition in 1985.
However, it should be noted that he spent most of the season on the substitutes bench, as an understudy to Grey.
Solid in fifty-fifty (50/50) situations, blessed with unbelievable aerial power, he also packed a decent shot and could strike the ball pretty well from a distance – notably from set pieces.
Tiwi was also extremely sound in transitional play, frequently venturing forward to set up attacks for his forwards and could easily adjust to any position and would be often deployed as a midfield anchor, a task he executed with a maturity that belied his rookie tag.
In the meantime, his boyhood club African Stars constantly harassed his family to persuade the boy to change allegiance and join the Reds, but Tiwi would have none of that and stayed put.
His uncompromising commitment and unquestionable desire to continue wearing the blue and white strip of Ingwe propelled the club’s usually hard-to-please supporters to grant him the freedom of both Donkerhoek and Shandumbala residential areas.
His lodging at Tigers paved the way for a significant number of Ovaherero-speaking athletes to cross the red line and join forces with the country’s oldest football entity.
The likes of Totii Hanavi, Mandala Kaizemi, Celle Tjivikua, Dave ‘Karumendu’ Hiiko and Muuaa Siririka crossed the floor to find refuge with the revamped Ingwe outfit.
An excellent reader of the game, Tiwi went on to win much silverware with his beloved Ingwe.
The highlight of his flourishing football career was doubtlessly the coveted Namibia Football Association (NFA) Windhoek Lager Cup in 1996, where his team triumphed over bitter rivals Blue Waters.
Tigers came out victorious from that encounter through Forra Nicodemus’ solitary strike that clinched a well deserved 1-0 victory for the Donkerhoek outfit in an entertaining and well attended final at Windhoek’s Independence stadium.
An assortment of niggling injuries finally put paid to his career and forced him into premature retirement from the game he loved so dearly, but this did not stop him from staying involved in the activities of his beloved Ingwe.
He remained a loyal servant and would made it a point to attend most of the club’s league matches and social functions, whenever time permitted.
Sadly, aged 38, the brother’s life was tragically cut short by a horrific car accident while traveling to Rehoboth with his former teammates to cheer their beloved Ingwe on in a scheduled league match in 2004.
The accident also claimed the lives of three other passengers, including Tiwi’s former teammate Bobby Taapopi. whilst former skipper Bricks Hangula was left terminally paralysed.
A pair of female diehard Tigers supporters, Angela Mokwena (younger sister of club stalwart Oubaas ‘Siwelewele’ Mokwena) and Roslyn Da Silva also perished from injuries sustained in that catastrophic accident. May their souls rest in peace.
During his-well attended but somewhat emotional memorial service, which was held in a sizeable hired tent at the NFA Football House, the late Tiwi’s family described him as a fearless soldier and true servant of Tigers.
And it certainly turned out to be an inevitable and fitting tribute that their offspring would exhale his last breath while in the line of duty for his beloved Ingwe.
Fighting back tears of sadness and agony, Tiwi’s grieving elder sister courageously applauded the club management for giving their star player a most dignified send-off.
May his soul rest in eternal peace.