It’s often whispered in the corridors of Namibian football that former Brave Warriors inspirational skipper Sandro de Gouveia is the finest white footballer to have made his mark in domestic football, but popular wisdom amongst local football fans is that his elder brother Carlos was indeed the real deal.
In fact, Sandro’s genes dictated that he would become a footballer of extraordinary skills following in the footsteps of elder brothers, Ivo, Emideio, Carlos and Louis who all played for coastal Portuguese outfits Sparta and Maritimo respectively, back in the day.
Whereas Ivo was most probably the most adorable and decorated of them all because of his no-nonsense approach and intelligent style of play – Carlos was doubtlessly the most skillful footballer in the star-studded Sparta line-up.
New Era Sport caught up with the baby-faced former Sparta flying winger-cum-midfielder as he relives his illustrious football career that saw him rub shoulders with the best footballers on offer at the dawn of multi-racial football in apartheid South West Africa (SWA) in 1977.
Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa
Windhoek-Unlike many of his peers who confined themselves to the playing field, former Sparta football club winger-cum-midfielder Carlos de Gouveia was a jack of all trades and master of all.
He is amongst very few footballers that went on to serve on the executive of the country’s truly first multi-racial football governing body, the now defunct South West Africa Football Association (SWAFA).
Born in Madeira in 1953 and the third of five brothers, Carlos started playing football at an early age turning out for Sporting Lisbon in his native Portugal.
“I played for the Sporting youth team before the family relocated to South West Africa (SWA), nowadays Namibia, where we settled in the southern harbour town of Lüderitz.”
A few years later his family resurfaced in Walvis Bay and it was at the freezing Atlantic Ocean coast where Carlos would start playing serious football.
“I joined local club Sparta, a team which consisted of a strong Portuguese representation amongst the playing personnel.”
Aged 17, Carlos teamed up with elder brothers Joao and Ivo in the purple and white strip outfit campaigning in the then white National First Division.
The league was quite competitive with teams such as SKW, Ramblers, Talpark, Wanderers, Tsumeb, Otavi/Kombat, Okahandja Manschafft, Otjiwarongo, Atlantis, Swakopmund FC and Karibib.
With Carlos leading the seasiders’ firing line, Sparta became the toast of the domestic league with their carpet brand of football. History will reveal that Sparta was the only team that challenged and brought to a halt the Don Corbett’s inspired Ramblers’ dominance in the domestic football league.
He went on to win almost all there was to be won in domestic football and was a member of the South West Africa White Invitational Eleven that defeated their Black counterparts 2-1 at the jam-packed Suidwes Stadion in 1976.
The first match ended in a three-all stalemate the previous year under controversial fashion as the whites were awarded a highly disputed thrice taken spot kick in the dying minutes of an otherwise electrifying match in front of a sold-out crowd.
That match led to the inevitable introduction of multi-racial football in apartheid South West Africa the following year 1977.
“We were the first football club to welcome footballers of colour in our midst after signing the great Doc Hardley from Orlando Pirates in South Africa, in addition to Alan Dickson, Arthur de Bruyn, Collin Lakey, Bobby Kurtz and Cruyff Kudulu.
“Football was extremely competitive in those days, but I must confess we always found the going tough against African Stars. They beat us 5-3 in a friendly match at our home field in Walvis Bay during the first meeting between the two giants.
“We had a very strong squad beating most of our opponents in the new set-up but we had never beaten African Stars.”
One match that stands out in his mind is the exhibition clash against the visiting Stellenbosch University side at Walvis Bay. The hosts ran out 3-0 winners with Carlos netting a hat-trick which earned him man of the match accolade.
He made his debut for South West Africa (SWA) in the South African Provincial Currie Cup prestigious tournament in Johannesburg in 1974 and Durban in 1976 after missing the 1975 edition through work commitments.
Carlos was also selected for the first ever multi-racial Currie Cup side in 1977 alongside elder brother Ivo but could not make it because of other pressing matters outside football.
He also tasted a bit of international football when he featured for Sparta and Atlantis (guest player) against a visiting German team in Walvis Bay.
When South African glamour football club Kaizer Chiefs visited South West Africa for a few exhibition matches at the Katutura stadium, Carlos was in the starting line-up for the local invitational eleven.
Carlos cites former team-mates Ronnie Dagnin, John Hazel a former Scottish youth player and elder brother Ivo as his favourite footballers during his generation. He also has great admiration for African Stars midfield general Oscar ‘Silver Fox’ Mengo.
“I liked Oscar a lot for his football brain, skills and above all, he was a true gentleman on and off the field.”
It was during his tenure as chairman of Sparta football club that the costal club defied local authorities to recruit footballers of colour to their nest very much to the chagrin of the men in camouflaged uniform.
Upon retirement from competitive football, Carlos would go on to represent the Coastal Football Association and Coastal Referees Association in various capacities. He was also elected executive member of SWAFA, serving under the mentorship of astute administrator-cum-politician, the late Danny Tjongarero.