Tigers Football Club’s retired but unheralded midfield general Joshua Haufiku, aka ‘Teacher’, was a man who never demanded media attention, but would rather do his thing on the field of play where he mesmerised opposing defenders with his trademark defense-splitting passes.
Bro Josh was just one of those footballers that never fulfilled their full potential. Were it not for the South Africa apartheid laws that denied many talented athletes a chance to ply their trade beyond the borders of their motherland, Haufiku, could have been a big name footballer in established football leagues abroad.
A complete attacking midfielder, the giant boy from the Garden Town, showed great potential and was without an iota of doubt destined to become one of the greatest midfielders of his generation.
New Era Sport finally caught up with much-adored playmaker to hear him talk of his abbreviated journey in domestic football.
Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa
Windhoek-Okahandja has produced a number of phenomenal athletes, footballers in particular.
The likes of Oscar ‘Silver Fox’ Mengo, Gotty Geiseb, George Gariseb, Ben ‘Doc’ Naobeb, Sebedeus ‘Merino’ Kandonga, Timotheus ‘Lemmy’ Goagoseb, Albert Tjihero, Bernard ‘Hassie’ Mingeri, Tjouho ‘Big Shoe’ Kauaheke, Bethuel ‘Ace’ Tjirera, Gerhard Louis, and many others were among the phenomenal athletes from Nau-Aib.
In the intervening years, a new group of emerging footballers took over the baton,spearheaded by the incredibly gifted midfield general, the legendary Congo Hindjou, Erastus Gariseb, Bimbo Tjihero, Richard Gariseb and Marco van Wyk.
However, in between these generations, there was another product from the garden town, who went totally unnoticed. This was none other than Tigers Football Club beanpole midfield genius, one Joshua Haufiku.
The brother caught the eye of football followers, mesmerising the opposition with his traditional defense-splitting passes and amazing intellectual play and unbelievable close control and retention.
A natural ball player, the tall and skillful midfielder was an unpolished diamond in the real sense of the word when he resurfaced at Katutura giants Tigers Football Club in 1985.
His arrival at the resurgent new look ‘Ingwe’ coincided with the club’s long overdue turn in fortunes, as the Donkerhoek outfit went on to to win the elusive league title during the inaugural season of the breakaway rebel Namibia Soccer Super League (NSSL).
Like many other boys his age in the neigbourhood, Haufiku started kicking tennis balls in the dusty streets of Nau Aib, Okahandja’s largest residential while hardly out of his shorts.
And whereas his peers managed to carve out for themselves places in the town’s local football sides, Bro Josh only started to blossom at a fairly advanced age. However, it was not until he went to Okombahe to further his schooling at the revered Martin Luther High School in the vast Erongo Region that things started taking shape.
He co-founded a small team at the hostel by the name of Rolling Computer Football, operating as a sweeper (centre back in modern football) for the green and white stripped A team.
As fate would have it, he was to be lured to Ingwe’s den by die-hard club supporter and well respected schools inspector Martin Shipanga, with a little bit of help from former Tigers and Battle Boys tough tackling fullback Alex ‘Kanjungu Koura’ Kapenaina.
“I was playing in a knockout tourney in my hometown, Okahandja, when the pair spotted me and persuaded me to join forces with Tigers. Back in the day, it was the dream and the aspiration of each and every young footballer to join one of the big clubs in the country.
“I must confess I was lucky in the sense that I joined a team with a good mixture of experienced squad members, such as veteran defender Grey, Oubaas, Kumi, Bakka, Mentos and Bandike and Issy, while the younger generations such as Forra and others fitted in perfectly well,” recalls the former schoolteacher.
In only his debut season in the country’s topflight football league, the cool-headed schoolteacher cemented a berth in the star-studded Ingwe starting lineup, as he formed the backbone of the club’s smooth running engine room, alongside the hard-galloping and tireless Laurentius ‘Ou Baas’ Pogisho and Bakka Adams.
A stylish midfielder, Haufiku possessed all the required attributes of a complete athlete, a great header and excellent passer of the ball. What he lacked in pace, he made up for with his intelligent positioning and timely interceptions.
“So, when the chance represented itself, I could not decline the offer and immediately joined Tigers,” Haufiku revealed.
The cool, calm and collected midfielder was installed right away in Ingwe’s engineroom, where he pulled the strings supplying killer passes to the dangerous firing line of Foresta Nicodemus.
After a successful but slightly interrupted seven-year stint with Namibia’s oldest football club, Tigers, the likeable schoolteacher resurfaced at the southern costal town of Lüderitz, where he joined the harbour town’s most popular football club, Atlanta Bucks, doubling as player and coach.
The beanpole midfielder hung up his togs at an advanced age, but would return to the field of play, featuring for the newly established Windhoek de Internationale Veterans Football Club, spearheaded by former Black Africa defender Cosmos ‘Indies’ Damaseb.
Though many of the playing personnel were already in the twilight of their playing careers, the team was very popular and entertained football fans across the country, competing in exhibition matches and knockout tournaments during the off-season.
“It was a mixture of retired footballers from various top clubs in the domestic football league. We hit the ground running and stood our ground against teams featuring active footballers, and even won a tournament in Tsumeb.”
Haufiku has in the meantime relocated to the southern capital of Keetmanshoop. He is currently in the employ of the Ministry of Justice as a court official (interpreter).