Tribute to a forgotten football hero Ephraim Kaparoro Kandjii, the goal machine

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History will reveal that there are many athletes, who have never lived to fulfil their full potential as a result of a combination of various circumstances.

Hundreds of athletes showed immense talent during their formative years on the sports field only to disappear, never to be heard of again.

One such athlete is retired Celtic FC flying winger, Kaparoro ‘The Silent Assassin’ the man who bamboozled the burly and much feared former Orlando Pirates defender Izaak ‘Whoops’ Garoeb in the historic final of the maiden edition of the Bantu Schools Floating Trophy in 1967.

New Era Sports finally caught up with the tallish left footed winger and he proceeded to relate his journey in football, including his telepathic partnership with one of Namibia’s greatest footballers of all time, the late Kapwii Angula.

Carlos “CK” Kambaekwa

Ehungiro – Back in the day, if you were not a product of the notorious Old Location in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, you would be simply classified as a “moegoe” someone in dire need of refinement in terms on how to wangle your way out of tight corners.

As this was not enough, whistling sharply via the top of your tongue with a certain measure of virtuosity was a definite pre-requisite.

When the green and gold stripped Rhenish Herero School arrived at the then modern Katutura municipal sports ground for the final of the maiden edition of the newly introduced Central Native (Bantu) Schools Floating Trophy in 1967, pundits expected them to take a hiding second to none against their more fancied opponents.

The star-studded Rhenish Nama School was loaded with the finest young footballers on offer at the time, from the modest Katutura Township. However, the streetwise boys from the old location had something up their sleeves.

Ushered by the late former Tigers and Blue Waters Football Club’s lethal bow-legged goal poacher, Johannes Kapwii Angula, the green and gold outfit surprised all and sundry, running rings around the pre-tourney favourites.

The Rhenish Nama School’s squad was laden with stars such as former Orlando Pirates deadly pair of wingers, Willem Eichab and Daniel Koopman, giant centre back Izaak ‘Whoops’ Gariseb, Topsen ‘Topio’ Afrikaner, Sackeus Kaizemi, Pedro Brown, Vaaitjie Aperpo, Rudolph ‘Ou Rudge’ Noariseb, Zebulon ‘Brazello’ Haoseb and the notorious muscular Obed Kapangurua ‘Gorilla’ Kapepu, stationed between the sticks.

With the team’s leading marksman Kapuii Angula tightly marked by the robust ‘Whoops’, it was left to a fairly unknown unorthodox winger, Ephraim Kandjii, to inflict the damage on their marauding opponents.

The tall left winger obliged by netting a well taken brace in the final to propel the streetwise boys from Old Location to a well deserved 3-1 triumph.

The Rhenish Herero School was a recruiting source for both African Stars and Tigers Football clubs whiles their opponents in the final were to become big name stars at Orlando Pirates, Rocco Swallows and Pirates (Dolam).

Pre tournament favourites Mandume and Kovita ‘Castro’ Tuaandi’s inspired Saint Barnabas schools, stumbled as they were eliminated in the semi finals.

Katutura based Mandume school fielded the likes of Sekulu ‘Superstar’ Hipondoka, Silas Wangaa Nujoma, Abner Tobias, Gabes Haufiku, charismatic lanky centre back Ipangena ‘Spaghero’ Shikwambi, Tommy Schmidt and Ruby Khumalo amongst a galaxy of stars in their universe.

When the two teams trotted on to the gravel municipal sports field in modest Katutura on that freezing Sunday afternoon, the star-studded Rhenish Nama School were firm favourites to walk away with the accolades.

However, it was not to be, as the lethal striking pair of Willem Eichab and Daniel Koopman could not find their way past the resolute Herero School rear-guard marshalled by the tough as steak fullback Shaka Mbako and his equally tough tackling partner Kometundu Tjituka, ably assisted by the tireless Grey Umati.

The late Bollie Kandonga was also in a class of his own as the barefoot shot stopper thwarted everything thrown at him by the marauding striking force from the maroon and white outfit.
Pound for pound, the boys from the old location could not match their more talented opponents but excellent teamwork, fighting spirit and determination proved to be the difference between these two school teams.

With a lethal striking force led by the great Kapwii Angula, stocky but nimble footed attacking midfielder Erastus Uazuvara ‘Nobby Stiles’ Hambira, Usiel ‘Kastamba’ Muruko and the tallish Fire Star FC dribbling wizard Katjitata Kazombiaze in an uncompromising mood, it was a tallish skinny winger that stole the show.

That was the day when Kaparoro showed his God-given goal scoring instincts crowning a near faultless performance with a well taken brace to give the visitors a well deserved 3-1 win over their much fancied opponents in front of the vociferous crowd that packed the compact Katutura municipal field to rafters.

Angula netted the other goal despite being tightly marked by the robust ‘Whoops’ – the fearless fullback famously known for his potentially dangerous trademark overhead kicks that scared the hell out of his opponents.

In later years, the same Whoops would catch African Stars’ pocketsize left-winger Smody Kamaheke in the head with his reckless outstretched boot.

Pandemonium broke out, as the Stars supporters could no longer stomach his antics and started beating and stoning the poor unsuspecting Ghosts’ fans in the stands.
The fight spiralled onto the field with players also joining in the free-for-all physical confrontation.

The Buccaneers always had the better of their eternal rivals in many of their countless encounters on the field of play, but the Reds came out tops in this clash, as their army of furious supporters drove the handful of Ghosts supporters out of the compact field as they had to jump over the high fence for safety.

The victory would pave the way for African Stars and Tigers to take a number of youngsters seriously.

And while the likes of Grey, Kaika, Kido, Bollie, Kapwii and Nobby went onto establish themselves as formidable footballers in organised football structures, Kaparoro and a few of his teammates disappeared from the game after the match that made them instant household names.

After few cameo roles with the Reds, Kaparoro turned out for the newly formed Old Location black and white stripped outfit Celtics, an unfashionable football club formed by fairly average footballers who could not carve out starting berths for themselves in the Reds’ starting eleven.

The club was the brainchild of the football crazy schoolteacher Gift Kapenda Kazombaue and his boyhood buddy, the late Noah Mieze.

The latter – a much liked schoolteacher and promising journalist – was stoned to death near his home in Katutura, during the senseless political uprising in 1978.

“My premature departure from football was necessitated by circumstances beyond my control,” Kaparoro relates.

“Upon leaving school, I was obliged to help out in the family business empire in the transport industry. I started driving busses and as result, there was no more time to attend training sessions or let alone play football on weekends because I would be occupied with transporting commuters to burials and other destinations.”

Unlike many of his peers who have gone the wrong way after hanging up their boots Kaparoro, a successful communal farmer nowadays, is still happily married to his long-time gorgeous sweetheart Unotjari, a seasoned social worker by profession and is the father of 12 fully grown up children (9 sons and 3 daughters).

Two of his sons, Katira and Uiiua followed in their father’s footsteps and were noted footballers in their own right.

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