Former Civics Football Club lanky football playing centre-back, Harold Kavinga Kaunozondunge, defied tradition in his neigbourhood when he surprisingly joined unfashionable Khomasdal outfit Civics, rather than boyhood team: African Stars.
Kavinga’s late grandfather, the always immaculately and dressed astute businessman, Uncle Claudius Katajee Kaunozondunge, also played for the now-defunct Young Standard FC in his younger days at Windhoek’s Old Location.
As it unfolded, the club amalgamated with Juvenile FC, paving the way for the inevitable birth of Katutura glamour football club African Stars in 1952. And as they say, the rest is history.
In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sport feature, Tales of the Legends, New Era Sport talks to the tough-tackling centre-back, as he relives his amazing football journey starting from the dusty streets of Katutura to the green lawns in Paballelo, ‘Upties’, South Africa.
Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa
Windhoek-In years gone by, it was always the dream of young aspiring footballers residing in the vastly populated Herero section of Namibia’s largest residential area, Katutura, to turn out for Katutura glamour football club African Stars when they come of age.
Retired Civics FC tough-tackling center-back Harold Kavinga Kaunozondunge was no exception to this tradition, as he grew up dreaming of one day playing for his boyhood team.
But as fate would have it, this was not be, as Kavinga ended up featuring for the then unknown Khomasdal outfit Civics Football Club, playing as midfielder during his early years flirting with the spherical object.
Born in the City of Lights (Windhoek) in the notorious Old Location – three years before the forced removal of the people there to the modern Katutura township in 1968 – young Kavinga started playing street football in the neighbourhood with his buddies.
As a youngster, Kawvnga was exposed to a multi-cultural upbringing, as he attended several primary schools, including Bertholdt Himumuine Primary, St Andrews (Khomasdal) and St Josephs (Döbra).
He was a founding member of the youthful local team Red Devils FC, playing alongside the Kazondunge siblings Abel (goalie) and Kaarari, as well as Namibia’s internationally acclaimed sprinter Frankie Fredericks, Tiwi Kaundje, Totii ‘Maezu’ Hanava and other highly gifted young footballers from the hood.
“I vividly recall that the late Paramount Chief of the Ovahereros Dr Kuaima Riruako sponsored our first playing gear.
“Our dream was always to play for African Stars’ second strings en route to the first team, but this proved extremely tricky as the likes of older boys Tjeripo ‘Pro’ Rijatua, Heilig Ndjtiavi and other average footballers kept us at arm’s length from making inroads into the team,” he recalls.
With the passing of time, the boys grew in stature and soon the time came to find secure homes elsewhere, as they were desperate to advance their blossoming football careers. While Fredericks opted to join forces with Black Africa, Kaundje ended up at Hungry Lions before jumping ship to resurface at Tigers. Kavinga at the time a pupil at Ella Du Plessis High School resurfaced at youthful Khomasdal outfit Civics.
“I had little difficulties settling in with my new team mates, because most of the squad members happened to be my teammates from the school team,” he says.
The skinny beanpole football-crazy Kavinga would go on to represent his new club with distinction after he was converted from midfielder to a formidable centre-back, partnering club captain Ruben ‘Ou Pri’ Prinz in the heart of the maroon and white stripped outfit’s uncompromising rearguard.
At the time Civics was campaigning fiercely in the newly established Central Namibia football Association (CNFA).
The popular football league, under the shrewd stewardship of hippy look-alike football guru Uncle Bobby Sissing, under the auspices of the militant South African Council of Sport (SACOS) – whose motto was ‘no normal sport in an abnormal society’ – would go on to become one of the most sought-after gatherings locally.
The new league was highly popular, attracting large crowds to their games at the just upgraded Khomasdal Stadium that saw teams also competing in monthly knockout tournaments – much to the delight of the appreciative crowds.
Apart from the mighty Civilians, other teams such as Swansea, Luton, Sorento Bucks, Cosmos, Benfica and many other football clubs from Katutura, Khomasdal (Windhoek) and Rehoboth competed fiercely in the what was the most exciting league.
In the interim, young Kavinga would go onto represent his native land in the highly competitive annual South African Soccer Federation National Inter Provincial B-Section Zonal Tournaments on several occasions.
“The federation had in general extremely competitive provincial teams. We played in fiercely contested tourneys in Pietermaritzburg and Cape Town, as well as here at home. It was indeed a great fun and a valuable learning curve for us young footballers playing against top quality footballers from South Africa.
“To put it bluntly, coloured athletes employed a totally different type of football with more emphasis placed on technique, ball possession and retention, shooting from range and amazing passing while attacking space in the process, he narrated.
By the time Namibia gained her democracy in 1990, all existing football leagues were disbanded, with all teams thrown in one basket paving the way for the unavoidable formation of a unified national football league. This led to the birth of the country’s elite football league, the Namibia Premier League (NPL).
Regarded as lightweights, the youthful Civilians wisely collaborated with eternal rivals Arsenal FC to enter a strong combined team representing Khomasdal under Civics.
CNFA were allocated two spots in the newly formed elite football league, but Arsenal waived their rights to newly established Liverpool FC – hence the presence of Okahandja-based Liverpool in the country’s elite football league.
Kavinga was to form the spine of the revamped Civilians’ line-up playing alongside club legend Brian ‘Oubaas’ Isaacs, Deon Brookes, Bassie English, Henoch ‘Ivory’ Uirab, Tiger Goagoseb, Willa van Wyk, Papi Isaacs and Karel Mouton, as the Civilians made a statement of intent in the country’s topflight football with their carpet football.
“The competition in the newly league was extremely tough, but we somehow managed to weather the storm because all teams from the Namibia Soccer Super League (NSSL) were very strong and competitive with phenomenal players in their armoury.”
The tall defender eventually got a taste of international football when he was deservedly selected for the Brave Warriors – making his international debut against the visiting Guinea in an AFCON, in a one-all stalemate at a packed-to-the-rafters Independence stadium in Windhoek.
“I was initially just a squad member, but was eventually thrown into the lion’s den,” he says. This after regular centre-back, inspirational skipper Bimbo ‘Rhoo’ Tjihero was suspended.
In the meantime, Kavinga and some of his Civics’ teammates teamed up with other talented footballers from Khomasdal with close links to ‘Upties’, touring Upington, South Africa on a regular basis to participate in the popular Easter Weekend knockout tourney against local teams from that neck of the woods.
“We could not enter as Civics. That’s why we played under the disguised name ‘The Dream Team’, but it was nevertheless great fun playing in a different environment enjoying ourselves to the fullest while making new friends.”
Kavinga cites former Nampol and Orlando Pirates dribbling wizard Ewaldt Hoeseb as the striker who gave him nightmares during his flourishing football career with the mighty Civilians.
“To be quite honest, Bro Ewaldt was one hell of a goal-poacher, the boy was blessed with amazing talent and could dribble at unbelievable speed, shoot from range, had excellent ball control, was great header of the ball and was above all, a damn fantastic finisher.”
In his own words, the former Civics defender says he enjoyed playing against Khomasdal rivals Young Ones FC and also cherishes memories of the team’s battles with Katutura giants African Stars and Orlando Pirates.
Kavinga singles out boyhood hero, former African Stars midfield sensation Oscar ‘Silver Fox’ Mengo as the greatest footballer he has ever come across on the field of play.