The garden town of Okahandja has produced dozens of highly gifted athletes, historians and musicians but those who chose to chase an inflated piece of leather were the most successful.
One such footballer is former Nau-Aib’s exciting outfit Battle Boys Football Club holding midfielder Ishmael Susâib Khoeseb, also known as Zambia or Muzorondu amongst his vast circle of friends.
The strongly built ebony-skinned midfield kingpin was your typical Roy Keane midfield commander in the modern game.
A real toughie, who was never shy to pull out of 50/50 ball contests – “Ou Suz” captured the imagination of football followers with his never-say-die attitude and amazing speed.
Moreover, where he lacked the football brain and unbelievable ball skills of his more celebrated midfield partner, the late African Stars left back Timo “Lemmy” Goagoseb, Ou Suz made up with his amazing endurance, brutal power, tight marking and incredible speed.
New Era Sports caught up with the retired dreadlocked footballer-cum-businessman turned part-time farmer, as he relates his football journey.
Carlos “CK” Kambaekwa
Okahandja – Growing up in the rocky streets of the garden town’s largest residential area, Nau-Aib, Ou Suz (Susai) was like many other young boys in the neighbourhood –football crazy – and would be seen kicking or chasing a tennis ball with his buddies.
Despite its skeleton inhabitants, the garden town had a sizeable amount of football teams competing against each other in fiercely contested exhibition matches or knockout cup competitions.
“Truth be told, I only started playing competitive football at a fairly advanced age because I strictly just played rugby at school (Cornelius Goraseb High) in Khorixas.
“Nonetheless, I eventually quit chasing after the oval ball the day I was viciously tackled from behind by former Orlando Pirates’ gangling striker Theobaldt ‘Momina’ Gurirab, reveals the adorable Rastaman (Susâib).
A versatile athlete, Susâib also participated regularly in track athletics at school, excelling in the 200-metre sprint, middle and the long distance races.
Apart from the lily white Mannchaft outfit across town, Nau-Aib township had four strong football clubs namely: Spoilers, Black Beauty Chiefs (BBC), Magic Tigers and Young Stars to be joined by the arrival of Battle Boys, Morroka and Golden Bees in the intervening years.
Back in the day, many football clubs were established alongside tribal lines and the Coloureds and Basters also teamed up to form their own football team, going by the name of Young Stars.
The competition among the teams was so stiff that obliging emerging youngsters found it very difficult to break into their favourite teams’ first teams.
This led the boys to form their football team, Battle Boys Football Club, made up of students from Khorixas.
Local boys also joined the fray and the new club started to compete against other local teams during school holidays or long weekends. However, it was not long before the newly formed black and white striped outfit started to make its presence felt in local knockout tournaments.
Spearheaded by dribbling wizard Times Goagoseb, Battle Boys became the toast of Nau-Aib with their Brazilian brand of football that captured the imagination of the neutral fan.
The youthful team spread its wings, participating in various knockout cup tournaments in towns such as Karibib, Usakos, Khorixas, Uis, Omaruru and Outjo, among others.
New kids on the block, Battle Boys and BBC were the strongest teams dominating football in the garden town in the early 70s.
Wearing similar colours (black and white) both teams would give visiting teams from the city of lights such as Orlando Pirates, Flames, Pirates (Dolam), African Stars and Tigers a good run for their money in several exhibition matches.
The youthful side rose to prominence in the annual Municipality Cup for local teams only. Ou Suz formed a dangerous combination in the middle of the park alongside skilful midfielder Thanib “Bastardo” Straightwolf, Alex Kapenaina and Lemmy Goagoseb.
When multi-racial football was introduced in the then apartheid South West Africa (SWA) in 1977, Battle Boys FC were made to compete in the Central Football League second division comprising teams from Windhoek, Rehoboth and the Garden Town.
The new demarcation of teams left some of the teams’ top footballers with no other option than to seek greener pastures elsewhere.
While the bulk of players such as Doc Naobeb, Gotty Gaseb, George Gariseb, Hans Haraseb (all Spoilers), Times Goagoseb, Alex Kapenaina (Battle Boys) Albert Tjihero, Merino Kandonga and Maatu Tjenda (BBC) found refuge with Windhoek-based clubs Katutura Ramblers, African Stars, Black Africa, Okahandja Mannschaft and Tigers, “Ou Suz” remained put.
Battle Boys FC continued to make waves in the lower division but “Ou Suz” would not stick around for long. Some of his former teammates from his hometown persuaded him to jump ship and be reunited with his homeboys at Katutura giants, African Stars.
The new look Reds’ squad had a strong representation of boys from the Garden Town, spearheaded by the legendary Oscar “Silver Fox” Mengo, Doc Naobeb, Bethuel “Ace” Tjirera, George Gariseb, Zebedius Kandonga, Hoonjo Tjihero, Times Goagoseb while another homeboy Hassie Mingeri also joined them in later years.
“Ou Suz’ arrived at “Starlile” at the same time when the club was undergoing major transformation and squad overhaul under the stewardship of shrewd German mentor, Dieter Widmann.
In only his second season with the Reds, the German tactician transformed “Starlile” into a formidable side. The revamped Reds claimed a double in the inauguration season of multi-racial football in 1977.
The fired up Oscar Mengo inspired Reds when they saw off cross-town rivals Ramblers in both finals of the combined national division one football league and the coveted Mainstay Cup – the equivalent of the traditional English FA Cup.
After a successful short stint with the Katutura glamour football club, “Ou Suz” developed itchy feet – only to resurface at Katutura rivals Orlando Pirates.
“I joined Stars at a time when the club had a very strong squad with lots of highly gifted footballers, so it was not easy breaking into the starting line up, though I did enjoy a fair share of sporadic cameo roles.
“When my buddy Lemmy (Narib) approached me to join Pirates, I did not hesitate and joined forces with the Buccaneers in the hope of regular game time.”
However, as fate would dictate, “Ou Suz” was obliged to quit football prematurely after he inherited a profitable groceries shop in the progressing Nau-Aib Township from his late uncle.
In no time, the dreadlocked midfielder established himself as a notable businessman in the Garden Town and would plough his earnings back into several community projects.
History reveals that “Ou Suz” was the ringmaster of the exciting rock band Ama-Africa, under the stewardship of amazing rock guitarist Brazzo Gomusab.
The three-piece band became very popular among local revellers and would always be the preferred choice fronting visiting bands from South Africa that included the great Harari and other top bands from that neck of the woods.