Tales of the legends: The untold football journey of Sadike Gotlieb

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Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa

Swakopmund – Back in the day, many local footballers would model their game on their heroes from across the Orange River in neigbouring South Africa, while also adopting the nicknames of their idols in the professional topflight league. Names such as Ace, Jomo, ‘KK’, Teenage, Chippa, The Horse, Ryder, Malombo, Maria-Maria, Bigman, Banda, Congo, Wire, Wagga-Wagga, Pro, Samora and many other high profile footballers from that neck of the woods.

It was therefore not surprising that one of the most promising footballers at the time also resolved to adopt the nickname of former Kaizer Chiefs, Highlands Park and Orlando Pirates flying winger Jerry Sadike as his signature tune. This particular player was none other than stocky winger-cum-midfielder, one Zedekias Gotlieb, elder brother of much travelled retired Brave Warriors, Eleven Arrows, Blue Waters and Orlando Pirates’ agile shot-stopper, Mokanya ‘Sparks’ Gotlieb. In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sports feature, Tales of the Legends, profiling retired athletes – New Era Sport brings to you our esteemed reader the untold football journey of Zedekias ‘Sadike’ Gotlieb.

Unlike many of his peers who began chasing leather in the dusty streets of Kuisebmond, Walvis Bay at a very tender age – Sadike was a late starter in the real sense, as he arrived in the harbour town already a grown-up boy as opposed to his pals who were born and raised in the town on the Atlantic Ocean.

Born Zedekias Gottlieb on the 2nd of October 1960 in a small village only known as Oshimwaku, in the Ohangwena
Region in the far north, previously known as Ovamboland, Sadike started his primary tuition in the vastly populated northern part of the country – before he was disrupted halfway during his first year at school when his parents relocated to Walvis Bay in search of greener pastures.

His next stop was the Native School in Kuisebmond (nowadays known as Immanuel Ruiter Primary School), in 1969.
And while his newly found buddies in the neighbourhood would play football at the slightest provocation, the quietly spoken stocky winger would mind his own business.
Sadike only started to develop a serious interest in playing football when he arrived at Goas Boys School near Karibib in the Erongo Region after he was chased away by several schools because of his tribe.

“We were a significant number of young boys that enrolled at the Petrus Ganeb School in Uis, but many who were descendants of the Oshiwambo and Ovaherero clans were told to find shelter elsewhere as the school could only accommodate Damara-speaking pupils.

“However, I stayed a bit longer because my surname Gotlieb deceived the school authorities who thought I was a Damara, until they found out that I could not utter a single word of the preferred vernacular,” reveals Sadike with a shy smile on his baby face.

He was admitted to the Roman Catholic School, St Joseph’s (Dobra) but soon after two weeks, the young boy developed itchy feet only to resurface at Goas Boys School near the mining town of Karibib in the mountainous Erongo Region in 1976.

It was while schooling at Goas that he got his big break – together with fellow football-crazy schoolmates Sadike went to the town to watch the visiting Eleven Arrows compete in friendly matches against local clubs.

“Arrows were short of a player and requested me to fill the gap. I was only sixteen years old at the time but who would pass on a chance to play competitive football with guys I always admired?”
The squad had great footballers led by schoolteacher Lazarus Shikwambi, Killa Samaria, Wilfred ‘Mini’ Nawatiseb, Temu Samaria and Hermann ‘Blue’ Karimbue in their amoury.

Upon completion of his primary schooling at Goas – Sadike, who could easily be described as an introvert, moved to the city of lights (Windhoek) to further his academic aspirations at the revered Augustineum Secondary School.

Here, he was to be reunited with hometown boys Britho Shipanga, Leo Koutondokwa, Fanuel ‘Bomber’ Salomo, Dan-Boy Ndjadila, Choppie Shekupe and Enos ‘Ndeshi’ Petrus.

The football-mad boys from the Atlantic Ocean immediately knuckled down to some serious business as they joined the predominantly Oshiwambo-speaking hostel team Golden Bees Football Club.

The side competed fiercely in the popular inter-hostel exhibition matches against rivals Windhoek City, Southern Empire and Rocking, attracting large crowds from the nearby Katutura residential area.

In the meantime, the youngsters would also feature regularly for teams in the township such as Katutura giants African Stars and Tigers’ second strings as guest players.

A stylish slippery winger, Sadike also played for second division campaigners Eastern Jumpers FC, leading the orange and white-strip outfit’s firing line alongside the equally dangerous Laurentius ‘Oubaas’ Pogisho.

“In fact, I played more matches for African Stars than Tigers where I graduated to the star-studded first team playing alongside greats such as Oscar Mengo, Doc Naobeb, Immanuel Kamuserandu, Juku Tjazuko, Ben Kauejao, Ndijva Kauami, Kierie Tjituaiza, George Gariseb, Boas Tjingaete, Times ‘Lemmy’ Goagoseb, Lefa Ndjiruete, Merino Kandonga and a horde of other phenomenal footballers.

“All of us from Walvis Bay eventually left Tigers because there was some underground animosity, as some of the fringe squad members were against us taking their places in the starting line-up. They regarded us as intruders since we were from the coast, arguing that we would anyway return to our respective home teams upon completion of our studies.”

Though he was a bit-part squad member, Sadike would feature for Eleven Arrows during the school holidays and long weekends. His big break came when club stalwart Hermann Blue Karimbue got injured prior to a cup final against United Stars from Swakopmund.
Young Sadike was thrown into the deep end and announced his arrival on the big stage with a well-taken hat-trick in a friendly against local rivals Explorer Eleven at the Kuisebmond stadium in Walvis Bay.

He followed it up with a well-taken hat trick against Swakopmund outfit United Stars in the final of a coastal knockout cup. The seasiders ran out 3-0 victors in a virtually one-sided encounter against their outgunned neighbours.

A good passer of the ball and overall team player, Sadike would establish a telepathic partnership with the hard-galloping Ben Gonteb, Ghenny Emvula, Sono Shivute, Merino Muvangua, Lawrence Kootjie and the burly football playing centre back Temu Samaria.

The highly gifted youngsters spearheaded the club’s golden generation of the emerging maroon and gold youthful coastal outfit with distinction in the mid-eighties.

He boasts an impressive résumé including a gold medal when Arrows defeated bitter rivals Blue Waters in the live televised JPS Cup final at the packed to the rafters Kuisebmond stadium in Walvis Bay in 1987.

It was Sadike’s intelligent display down the wing that swung the match in Arrows’ favour as the underdogs emerged deserved winners in the dreaded penalty shootout after the adrenaline-pumping final ended in a dramatic two-all stalemate after regulation time of 90 minutes.

A league winner with Arrows during the maiden edition of truly independent Namibia in 1991 – Sadike went on to represent his native land in the four-nation mini tournament in neighbouring Botswana featuring the league champions of hosts Botswana Defence Force (BDF), Arsenal (Lesotho), and Mbabane Swallows (Swaziland). The Albert Louw-coached team finished 3rd in the round robin tourney.

He also tasted provincial football when he was selected for the star-studded NSSL team in exhibition matches against the visiting Busch Bucks and Ace Mates respectively from the competitive South African Professional Soccer League in 1986.

Sadike eventually hung up his togs after he tied the knot with his longtime sweetheart in 1992 but still remembers his on-the-field tough battles with Katutura giant killers, the uncompromising Hungry Lions Football Club.

He rates club legend, speedy winger uncle Tommy Ushona as the greatest footballer he has ever watched playing the beautiful game of football. Uncle Tommy played until his mid-40’s and had successful stints with the trident of Blue Waters, Tigers and Benfica.

Uncle Tommy was also a regular starter and invaluable squad member of the star-studded South West Africa (SWA) Bantu Invitational Eleven that toured South Africa for several exhibition matches in 1969.

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