Without a doubt, Wherrick “Uerivara” Zimmer-Goraseb, is regarded among the greatest footballers ever to emerge from the Namibian shores since time immemorial.
The strongly built goal poacher possessed all the required attributes of your typical old-fashioned centre forward. He was blessed with phenomenal speed, great footwork, packed dynamite in both feet, good in the air and above all, the killer instinct in the small box.
Uncle Wherrick was a founding member of the notorious Pirates FC (Dolam) while the lethal sharpshooter also skippered the South West Africa (SWA) Bantu Eleven on its first international tour across the Orange River en route to South Africa, way back in 1958.
A sizable chunk of the travelling entourage has since gone the way of all flesh, a few are still around battling to keep hunger at bay, while very few of them are enjoying life after football.
One such footballer is Uncle Wherrick, who has since relocated to South Africa, and is enjoying his retirement days in Pofadder near Kakamas in the Northern Cape Province. The former Cape Cross, Pirates, Explorer Eleven and Blue Waters lethal marksman entertains us with tales of those thrilling times in football while playing in the dusty fields in Windhoek’s Old Location and all over the length and width of the country. Uncle Wherrick also recalls, with a great measure of regret, how he was obliged to quit the game he so dearly served and loved after losing interest as a result of lack of decent opponents, while still at the pinnacle of his blossoming football career.
Carlos “CK” Kambaekwa
Should the unwritten history of Namibian football be told in bold, the name of Wherrick Zimmer, better known as Uerivara Goraseb, is likely going to feature prominently because whenever the stocky striker was on song – there were very few peers on the playing field who could match his amazing football virtuosity.
Uncle Wherrick started chasing leather at the fairly advanced age of 17 with his boyhood pals such as the late Immanuel “Socks” Skrywer, Simon Cloete, Nicodemus Awaseb and Amon Goaseb in Windhoek’s Old Location turning out for Cape Cross FC as youngsters.
“We had plenty of talented guys in that team – there was this young dude we used to call Bayman, please don’t ask me where that name came from, but he was a marvel to watch alongside these two highly gifted brothers from Upington, Boy and Frans Daniels.”
The team competed against the likes of Tigers, Young Standard, Juveniles, Thistles and, in later years, African Stars.
“Most of our matches were just friendlies. Oh, but boy! The players took each match seriously, since pride was at stake in our days.
“We also competed in the annual Bowker and Ethel Dresses knock-out cups in the Old Location.
The team later changed its name from Cape Cross to Pirates (Dolam), but Wherrick left Pirates soon afterwards and teamed up with the cream of the township to form the untouchable Explorer Eleven.
“The newly formed outfit consisted of Joe Kariko, Siegfried “Tjaatako” Tjijorokisa, John Swarts, Bronny and Paul “Zooro” Willemse, Dicky Kariko, Times Mwetuyela, Cleophas “Siseva” Siririka, aka Danger and Floyd Maharero, among the crème de la crème of local footballers.
“Our first game was against Tigers, which we lost but from there on, it was one-way traffic, as we went on to win each and every match we played leading to football becoming very boring as we clearly ran out of decent opponents.”
The team was placed under the guidance of the highly knowledgeable football administrator Robert Nhlapho, a South African who was a social worker in Windhoek.
“We became the first-ever black team to play against a white team when we confronted Ramblers in 1961 – the match was played in very good spirit and ended in a draw with the versatile Imms Skrywer in excellent form on that historic day,” recalls Werrick.
Such was Wherrick’s influence on the playing field that the national selectors had no hesitation in installing him as captain of the first South West Africa Bantu Eleven that toured South Africa in 1958.
“We had this German guy going by the name of Manfred Hewicke working at Otto Mohr Outfitters. He was a very good coach and was instrumental in selecting the touring squad that went to play against invitational teams in Johannesburg, Durban, Krugersdorp, Hammanskraal and Bloemfontein.”
Among the players that represented the SWA Bantu invitational Eleven were Lisias “Coloured” Kakololo, Kallie Bessinger, Oscar Tjahuha-Norich, Simon Cloete, Lightning Geingob, Amon Gaoseb, August Nangolo, Stepha Niilenge, Seth Kavandje and the Malan brothers Man and Issy. Andrew Mogale managed the team, while a white chirpy going by the name of A. de Wet kept an eagle’s eye over the travelling entourage.
Four years later, the team toured South Africa again with Wherrick still wearing the captain’s armband.
“This time, we played in Johannesburg, Germiston and Bloemfontein where we met a Damara guy by the name of Conradie – he was an immigrant worker married to a South African lass there.”
The team had mixed fortunes winning two and losing the other two matches on tour.
“The South Africans were technically better equipped than us, but we completely out-classed them with our unbelievable endurance, pace and shooting ability.”
Upon the team’s return, Wherrick was honoured with a testimonial match turning for Pirates against a Tsumeb Invitational Eleven in the Copper Town in 1962.
That particular match was organised by the late football guru Herbert Conradie and drew a large crowd.
As it turned out, Wherrick developed itchy feet and found himself in Walvis Bay, where he joined the star- studded Blue Waters outfit alongside Charles Kauraisa, Gabes “Flying Fish” Mupupa, Tommy Uushona, Gabriel Muthilifa and Oscar Tjahuha-Norich.
“We had memorable encounters against Namib Woestyn, who had this striker in their line up whom I only remember as Isacky.
“That boy was very cunning and tricky.”
Wherrick won the golden boot award after scoring a record 350 goals in his illustrious football career.
“I was always inspired by Tommy, Gabes, Times and goalkeeper Alois ‘Alle Hoekkies’ Taylor, while Kallie Bessinger also proved a tricky customer to handle despite his small frame.”
The now 80-year-old former goal poacher believes modern footballers are having it too easy and lack the required endurance.
“In our days, we were much fitter than today’s youngsters, considering the fact that we played up to three matches within a day on top of using balls made of heavy leather while we were also not allowed to make any changes (substitutions) during a match unless a serious injury occurred.
“The standard is very low and football authorities must seriously start thinking of adjusting the training methods if we are to make any serious inroads into international football.”
Uncle Wherrick is a die-hard Manchester United fan and likes the Brazilian flair while he is also highly impressed with the Spanish style.
His offspring Eric Muinjo followed in his dad’s footsteps making a name for himself as a footballer of note. He is currently among the finest qualified coaches in domestic football while younger brothers, the late Geoffrey “Jeff” Zaahl and Sylvester “Seun” Doeseb also tried their hand on the spherical ball.