Windhoek-The Namibian sports fraternity woke up to the sad news over the apst week of the untimely death of one of the country’s most recognisable sport personalities, Ricky Fredericks.
An uncompromising pioneer of local sports Aunt Ricky, as she was fondly known in sports circles amongst her admirers, was also the mother of internationally acclaimed Olympic sprint sensation Frank Fredericks.
A staunch Black Africa Sports Club supporter and serving executive committee member of the Gemengde outfit over decades, Aunt Ricky has no doubt made her mark in the wider domestic sport.
She played a significant role in the development of tennis and has been at the forefront of local netball, alongside Marlie Snyman (widow of SWA Rugby XV shrewd mentor, the late Henning Snyman since the introduction of multi-racial sports back in the mid 70’s).
As the nation mourns and at the same time celebrates the life and times we shared with Aunt Ricky, a kind hearted woman of substance – the author has been privileged to get to know Aunt Ricky from close range.
Like many other boys in Katutura township, we were blessed to find in Aunt Ricky a caring and loving mother, whose house was home to many of us, irrespective of tribe and race, or of political or cultural affiliation.
Aunt Ricky was not only ever-present at local football matches, she served both tennis and netball disciplines with distinction. It would indeed be a grave miscarriage of justice if her name were not be engraved in the golden pages of our national archives.
Inevitably, Aunt Ricky will always be linked to her famous son, Frank, but it should be noted that she ran her own race in the sporting arena way before Frank became a household name in football and international athletics.
She took dozens of footballers under her wing, who arrived from far beyond the city of lights (Windhoek) in search of better prospects – ultimately paving the way for their future endeavours, transforming them from potential stray boys into men of dignity.
Amongst them were the highly gifted midfield general, Lucky Boostander, George Martin, Kandas Paulinho, Willem Wermann, Five Hochobeb, and many other learners from the revered St Joseph’s Secondary School.
Aunt Ricky possessed that rare magical parental touch. Whenever young boys were out of order, be it on the football pitch or in the streets, she would reprimand us and even the self-proclaimed real toughies in the hood would listen, vowing never to repeat the same not-so-cool acts again.
What made her unique is the fact that Aunt Ricky never held grudges against those around her, even if she felt shortchanged by decisions on the playing field. That was Aunt Ricky for you – a loving and caring human being with strong principles, morals, ethics and a sense of dignity second to none.
Unselfishly, she would always sacrifice the needs of her only child to accommodate less privileged ones, as Frank was made to share whatever he could with others, including space. Aunt Ricky was not a pretender, she was real, kind-hearted and warm person to many people.
May her soul rest in eternal peace.
* Watch this space as New Era Sport revisits the full life journey of Aunt Ricky and how she transformed the game of tennis amongst marginalised communities back in the day.