Death has struck another well-known football hero as the country woke up to the sad news that retired Life Fighters Football Club hard-as-nails defender, Joe Shaduka, has taken a bow from the game of life after surrendering to a long battle against diabetes.
Bro Joe will be best remembered for his uncompromising close marking style and tough tackling as he sent shivers running riot in the bellies of marauding forwards.
The author had the rare privilege of rubbing shoulders with bro Joe close up from countless on-field battles during the adrenaline-pumping no-holds-barred intensive encounters between Hungry Lions and “Okahirona” football clubs, back in the day.
A no-nonsense hard-tackling right fullback, Bro Joe’s traditionally high level of competitiveness and never-say-die attitude persuaded the club’s hierarchy and adoring teammates to install him as captain of the purple and white stripe outfit.
It’s indeed with a heavy heart that I’m penning this tribute when the departed brother would literally remind me in no uncertain terms each and every time we crossed paths that until such time I have profiled his football journey – Namibian football would be totally incomplete.
Sadly, the brother has exited the game of life before we could seat down and reflect on his amazing football journey.
Carlos “CK” Kambaekwa
Windhoek-The late Joseph Shaduka, aka Joe, joined the exciting popular Otjiwarongo outfit Life Fighters Football Club from unfashionable Orwetoveni Township outfit Silent Killers FC, as an untried raw young fullback.
His arrival at the purple and white stripe unit coincided with the club’s inevitable transformation process and he found himself thrown at the deep end alongside a significant number of young footballers recruited to succeed the fading old guard.
A product of the unofficial school of football excellence, the revered St Joseph’s Secondary School (Dobra), Joe was a steady fullback who made the right fullback position his own property paired alongside beanpole defender Eliah Tjaverua, Yster Kahingunga, Julius “Senzeni” Stephanus and the ageing Skelly Kavetuna.
His unavoidable arrival at “Okahirona” brought a sense of stability into the team’s leaky defence, as he marshalled the defence with maturity way belying his rookie tag.
His experience from Dobra rubbed off on his new teammates. After all, bro Joe received proper football coaching on the latest techniques of the modern game via the hands of revered football coach Willem Hans. And while playing alongside football greats in the mould of Stu Damaseb, his homeboy Lewa Awaseb, Lawrence Uri-Khob, Seth Shituleni and other gifted young footballers at the school’s hostel football team Sorento Bucks – bro Joe was indeed a natural ball player and could be seen venturing forward to join the attack whenever the situation demanded.
A great tackler and a good reader of the game, Joe’s phenomenal ball distribution was something out of this world while his aerial power left the opposition in absolute awe.
Subsequently, bro Joe went on to form the spine of the revitalised ‘Okahirona” in the intervening years and was an integral part of the team that won promotion to the country’s elite football league, the breakaway Namibia Soccer Super League (NSSL) in the mid-80s.
His never-say-die-attitude and uncompromising defensive style captured the imagination of many a neutral football fan wherever “Okahirona” featured in several knockout cup competition, notably in the maize triangle.
An outright Otjiwarongo “boytjie”, bro Joe settled in his hometown upon leaving school and took up employment as a salesman with Pupkewitz and befriended Life Fighters FC lanky centreback Rudi Tjaverua, who also happened to be a salesman at Metjie & Ziegler in the town.
“We became very good friends socially but enemies on the field because he was playing for rival team Silent Killers. However, as our friendship grew, I somehow managed to convince him and persuaded Joe to join Life Fighters and as they say, the rest in history,” recalls Joe’s buddy Rudi.
Joe’s arrival at “Okahirona” coincided with that of former Black Africa great Albert Louw, who resurfaced at the club as a player-coach. “I think Louw’s presence appealed to Joe because he did not hesitate to join forces with us,” adds Rudi.
A prominent political activist, bro Joe would sporadically find himself in hot water with authorities (cops) and would spend time in police cells.
“He was a hard core political activist and the cops would always pounce on him at the slightest provocation – leaving me with the heavy task of having to go to his grandmother’s home to relay the sad news whenever he got imprisoned.”
Joe sent shockwaves amongst the team’s diehards when he jumped ship alongside beanpole goalie Charles Ngozu to join forces with the newly formed Forest FC – much to the chagrin of the Okahirona’s followers.
Nonetheless, it was not long before the prodigal son returned home after a short stint with Forest FC. His presence was sorely missed by his teammates who had christened him “Orukaku”, the “Poison Boot”. The name derived from his customary roving boots because bro Joe never pulled out of 50/50 confrontations where his opponents would always come off second best.
In the meantime, Joe would always feature for Blue Waters as a guest player whenever he visited the coast.
With age no longer on his side and having run his full circle at his beloved “Okahirona”, bro Joe relocated to sea level after he found employment at the Rossing Uranium Mine in the Erongo region and eventually settled in the Namibian harbour town of Walvis Bay.
He re-joined costal giants Blue Waters FC and although he was quite long in the tooth to continue what he did best, stopping marauding forwards right in their tracks at the time – bro Joe was not totally lost to football.
The well-built tough-as-nails right fullback joined the Birds’ technical staff and was later elevated to the plum position of head coach.
Bro Joe will be laid to rest in his hometown at the new Orwetoveni Cemetery in Otjiwarongo, tomorrow morning.
May his soul rest in eternal peace in one piece.