Back in the day, during the height of apartheid in the then South West Africa (SWA) many recreational institutions were formed along tribal lines to create a sense of belonging and the beautiful game of football did not escape the wrath.
In 1974, a group of energetic Setswana-speaking Namibians residing in Namibia’s commercial capital Windhoek resolved to form a football club in a bid to build a sense of communityx.
This led to the unavoidable formation of Eastern Jumpers Football Club (EJFC). The club consisted of players who hailed from a Roman Catholic village holed up north of Gobabis, commonly known as Epukiro RC, to be christened Metsweding in the intervening years.
In those early days of virtually non-existent technology and vast distances, the bright lights of Windhoek seemed a world far away from home. It felt like one had to cross or jump many borders from the east in order to reach Windhoek – hence the adoption of the name Eastern Jumpers.
Carlos “CK” Kambaekwa
Windhoek-The inevitable birth of Eastern Jumpers Football Club was indeed the brainchild of Richard ‘Ou Rich’ Moshosho.
The latter teamed up with the trident of fellow founder members Victus Edward, Bonny ‘Maano’ Pogisho (late) and the late Kgobetsi ‘Takes’Tekoyajone.
Prior to that, “Ou Rich” played for coastal outfit Blue Waters FC before joining Katutura outfit Black Africa. Sadly, the brother became disenchanted with what he perceived as tribal preferential treatment towards certain squad members whenever it came to team selections and decided to jump ship in 1970.
“Ou Rich” went on an aggressive campaign, mobilising and persuading all Setswana-speaking footballers and sympathisers in and around the city of Windhoek to join forces with the newly formed sporting institution.
The committee was bolstered by the arrival of Black Mokaleng, Rems Maleke and Patrick Tibinyane (late) with the late Chips Thudinyane also joining the fray at a later stage.
“Ou Rich” and his old guard guided the orange and white stripe outfit (EJ) from 1974 –1984 from humble beginnings into a formidable football club, campaigning fiercely in the highly competitive Central second tier division – comprising of Hungry Lions, Acrow Chiefs, Groovy Lions, Golden Rivers and second strings from the big clubs in the city of Windhoek.
Some of the most notable names of this era were; Tselapedi Mogotsi, Felix Mogotsi, Blasius Sebetwane, Tiel Mokwena, Tabadi Pelonomi, Dennis ‘Wonderboy’ Alerilwe, Laurentius “Oubaas” Pogisho, Erwin ‘Kaitanab’ Motonane, Striker Makgone, Bernard ‘Saluza 45’ Morwe, Manameng ‘Spra’ Kgobetsi, Simon ‘Age’ Kgobetsi, aka “Ouderdom” Credo Johnson, Skhaku Thudinyane, Don Akumani Shipanga, Immanuel ‘Shafi’ Ueitele, Dominicus ‘Cousin’ Mokwena, Stanley Moatshe,Vincent Mamaregane, Ruben Makgone and Herbert ‘Five’ Mogotsi.
Ironically, both Jumpers and Hungry Lions would turneout to be the strongest teams in this particular division and the rivalry between these two football giants would escalate to the popular knockout cup tournaments in Gobabis.
Matches between the two clubs drew large crowds and fierce on-field battles between both sets of players spearheaded by inspirational skipper Striker Makgone. The no-nonsense competitive midfield anchor, Striker was your modern box-to-box midfielder and would always pop up with crucial match winning goals.
Up front, lanky striker Joseph “Oubaas” Pogisho was bamboozling defenders at will with brutal speed and stinging the oppositions’ shot stoppers’ palms with his ferocious long-range shots.
The club’s highly entertaining brand of carpet football started to entice many footballers from all walks of life.
The club unearthed many young talents and became a famous football academy and happy hunting ground for the Premier League top dogs scouting for good players, mainly Black Africa as both clubs were based in the same neighbourhood of Gemengde location in Katutura.
The massive success achieved by EJ at the same time became its downfall, as a good chunk of the club’s finest playing personnel was poached (free of charge) year in and year out by the Premier league teams.
Some of the outstanding players that jumped ship for pastures green elsewhere were; Vincent Mamaregane (BA) Salathiel Ndjao (OP) Allen Tjikupe (OP) Donbaldt Shipanga (Tigers) Credo Johnson (C Santos), Imms Ueitele (D Rollers) Oubaas Pogisho (Tigers) Quinton Jacobs (BA) Kondjeni Tjilale, late Tjatindi Tjilale (both E Arrows), Mannetjie Kaimu (A Stars), Hoko Kasibu (Young Ones/Civics), Oubaas Mokwena (Tigers), late “Oom K” (BA/E Arrows) Phillip Koa (Ramblers) Sadike Gottlieb, Bobby Samaria (both E Arrows) Thea ‘Mr Soccer’ Kandjimi and Zico Simbo (both R Chiefs).
As a result of the traditional close links between cousins Black Africa and Arrows, a close friendship developed between Jumpers and Arrows and it was almost inevitable that players from EJ players would join either BA or Arrows at some stage.
Under the new stewardship of Bonny Mokhatu, Striker, Bonny Morwe, Ignatius ‘Teacher’ Thudinyane and Simon Kgobetsi, Jumpers rose to prominence and were a major force to reckon with in domestic football between 1985 and 1995.
The club unearthed phenominal athletes in the shape of Lebeus Mbekele, Oubaas “Siwelewele” Mokwena, Kondjeni Tjilale, Sakaneng Mosimane, Eteb Bafrath, Atab Wermann, Doc Tibinyane, Boetatjie Tibinyane, Karl “Oom K” Tibinyane, Erastus “Pro” Arelilwe, Moshosho Udigeng, Kaptein Mokwena, Tlhaba Modise, Zico Simbo, Pascalis Arnath, Hoko Kasibu and Simon ‘Age’ Kgobetsi.
As the years wore on, Jumpers were part and parcel of the unavoidable transformation in domestic football that saw the amalgamation of football in apartheid South West Africa in 1977.
EJ’s biggest rivals were Hungry Lions and new exciting Khomasdal outfit Young Ones. However, if there was a particular match that could fill any stadium any time, it was whenever EJ and the “Lions of Judah” (Hungry Lions) locked horns.
This bitter rivalry between the two clubs stretched from 1974 until 1982 when the Lions of Judah were promoted to the Central Football Association (CFA) Division One league in 1983.
And while Striker and Oubaas pulled the strings for the exciting orange and white stripe outfit, the likes of Billy Tuahepa, Kallie Billhawer, Jomo Tjiveta, Forra Nicodemus and Jackson Meroro would dish up toe-to-toe encounters yet to be experienced in modern-day football.
Then came the mid-80s when the new-look EJ and Civics would draw full crowds from Katutura to Khomasdal with their countless mouth-watering brand of skilful displays of diski football.
The likes of Brian Isaacs, Ivory Uirab, Kavinga Kaunozondunge and Sputla Masite, ruled the show at the youthful Civilians side – propelling the Bethlehem outfit to promotion to the country’s elite football league (NPL) in 1991.
The next top draw show was EJ and Firestone, where the likes of Khulu Hawala plied their trade.
By 1992, EJ was at their most dangerous, dominating the league to such an extent that they went a whole season unbeaten, to replicate the same feat manufactured by their bitter rivals when the “Lions of Judah” gained promotion in 1982.
In the same year, Jumpers knocked out elder cousin Black Africa (BA) from a knockout cup competition Metropolitan Cup and went on to lose against Orlando Pirates in the semi-final. The club also won several low-profile knockout tourneys in towns such as Okahandja and Rehoboth in search of gaining the elusive promotion to the elite league.
As fate would have it, the promotion playoffs in early 1993 coincided with the worst years for both Katutura giants Black Africa and Tigers, who were staring relegation in the face.
Those in the corridors of power took boardroom decisions that these two teams may not get relegated, as it would mean disaster for the overall welfare of football in Katutura.
Eastern Jumpers were in the same pool with Tigers, and won all their matches convincingly and only had the final hurdle to negotiate, which only needed a draw for promotion at the expense of Tigers, who had to win at all cost to avoid the chop.
And to make matters so obvious of their intentions, Tigers was coached by Dan-Boy Ndjadila and the designated match official for this crucial decider was his elder brother Boy-Boy Ndjadila, he himself a former player of Tigers. EJ protested about this unfairness but were threatened with dismissal.
The outcome was a foregone conclusion. All it needed was for the referee to award Tigers a highly disputed spot kick in the dying minutes of the match and in this way EJ was denied promotion to the country’s elite football premier league.
It took ages to build that calibre of a team and it took just one event to break it. The EJ players were so devastated and many of them decided to prematurely end their football careers and hung up their football togs.
The remaining players were snatched by various Premier League teams and went on to enjoy success with their respective new clubs. It’s such an injustice and sad experience that a football club boasting the calibre of EJ never got the chance to test themselves against the best of domestic football on display.
In the meantime, retired members of the club have regrouped in an effort to revive the club with the ultimate aim of restoring this great institution back to its glory days. – Additional research by: Ignatius “Teacher” Thudinyane