Cometh the hour, cometh the man – popularly known as “Last Born” during his formative years as a promising footballer, young Bobby was destined for the bigger stage.
After all, his genes dictated that he would become a great footballer following in the footsteps of his celebrated old man Linus “Bossie” Samaria, uncles Tommy Ushona Zondi Amathila, Freek, Killa, Connie, Temu and Agnes Samaria were all great athletes in their own right. History reveals that no other footballer-cum-coach managed to achieve what Bobby has done since the dawn of democracy in 1990.
A multiple title winning coach, the Grootfontein born lad is one of very few retired footballers that have managed to replicate their football prowess into coaching.
Whereas great footballers such as Maradona, Dunga, Jurgen Klinsman, Ruud Gullit and others stumbled as mentors – Bobby came out with flying colours from the dog eat dog industry of football coaching.
Arguably Namibia’s most decorated coach, Bobby boasts a remarkable resume having just bagged a double with Katutura glamour football club African Stars, adding to dozens of accolades won as player with boyhood team Eleven Arrows and Black Africa, respectively.
New Era Sports brings to you, our esteemed reader the football journey of the little man, also baptised the “Little Corporal”
Carlos “CK” Kambaekwa
WINDHOEK – Having just collected his umpteenth silverware in domestic football, masterminding African Stars to an unprecedented cup double on his second return, Bobby has endured himself into the hearts of the Reds’ diehards.
Word going around is that he has been given the freedom of the notorious Herero Mall after he scripted his name in the history books of domestic football as the first and only coach to claim a brace of doubles with the same club.
A significant number of football followers are unaware that Bobby was without a shadow of doubt one of the finest midfielder, if not the very best of his generation in the business in the late 80’s.
The “Little Corporal” is a product of the unofficial school of excellence (football wise) St Joseph’s Secondary School (Dobra). Like many other young boys his age, Bobby started chasing an inflated piece of leather in the dusty streets of Kuisebmond, Walvis Bay but only rose to prominence when he went to Dobra to further his schooling.
His first competitive team was Chief Santos at the school hostel and went onto feature prominently for the school’s youth teams at all age groups. Ironically, Bobby’s romance with “Starlile” was cemented way before he started playing competitive football.
“I became good friends with this boy at school Manfriedt Teek, he would always drag me along whenever he visited his parents’ house in Katutura on off weekends.
“It so happened that African Stars juniors (U/13) were playing in a knockout cup tourney in Windhoek. I was thrown into the mix of things alongside Flam Jansen and Golla van Staden and that is how my relationship with Stars got off the ground,” Bobby recalls.
In the meantime, young Bobby would go onto represent his native land (SWA) at all age groups level. Young Bobby made his official debut for boyhood team Eleven Arrows at the tender age of 17, but his entry into topflight football was not without controversy.
He was deemed too small to be thrown in the deep end but young Bobby, floated above the skeptics and Doubting Thomasses.
Nonetheless, the pocket size framed midfielder set his sights on winning silverware as a player rising to a much-sought-after football coach upon his pre-mature retirement from the game.
“My uncle Killa (Samaria) was the team manager and protested vehemently that I should not be risked since I was too small and might got injured. Luckily, Shaya Mwelasi, pleaded with management to field me and as they say, the rest is history”.
Strangely, Bobby missed Arrows’ biggest moment of glory when the gold and maroon strip outfit got the better of the bitter-rivals Blue Waters in the live televised JPS Cup final at the Kuisebmond stadium in 1987.
“I absconded from training the week prior to the final because we were on the verge of skipping the country into exile, but the plan fell through.”
After four solid seasons with Arrows, Bobby relocated to the city of bright lights (Windhoek) and joined Black Africa.
His arrival at the Gemengde outfit coincided with the club’s transformation process as many of the club’s stalwarts were getting a bit long in the tooth.
The pint-size midfield general had big boots to fill succeeding the club’s blue-eyed boy Lucky Boostander in a compact midfield alongside former Arrows teammates agile shot stopper Ronnie Kanalelo, Stakes Louw, Lolo Goraseb and Bernard Diocothle where he formed a telepathic combination in the three pronged midfield pack.
However, his debut season was like hell in heaven as the new players struggled to gel – leaving the “Cup Kings’ to just escape relegation by the skin of their teeth. Struggling BA surprisingly defeated Liverpool 4-2 after trailing 2-0 at the break away from home in their final league match of the season.
“We managed to regroup the following season and went on to win almost everything there was to be won in the domestic league. The rejuvenated BA finished runner up in the league.”
His near faultless performance was rewarded with the Best Player of the Year award in 1993. Sadly, his rise to stardom was disrupted when he obliged by circumstances beyond his control to retreat to the harbour town where he rejoined Arrows after the passing of his beloved mother in 1995.
Two years later, the adorable box-to-box midfield genius was back in familiar territory spearheading the coach-less BA to glory again.
“The late Broertjie Swartz, who happened to be the team manager at the time, persuaded me to take up the coaching reins – that is how I developed interest in coaching.”
Upon the recommendation from “Broertjie”, Bobby never looked back and the “Little Corporal” is now finally reaping the fruits of years of perseverance.
His remarkable coaching resume includes spells with the national under 20 and 23’s under the watchful eye of astute senior national team mentor, the late Ben Bamfuchile.
But what has been the difference between “Last Born” and his rivals. “I have learnt a lot about the game from Bamfuchile and must admit I am very grateful for his valuable input mentoring me during my time as the national team’s youth coach – May his soul rest in peace.”
As a young footballer, Bobby was a rare bred and would always prefer playing simple one touch football applying the basics while his long passing game was a marvel to watch.
“I always modeled my game on former Manchester United greats Paul Ince and Paul Scholes. Locally, my favourite footballers were my homeboy Koko Muatunga, dribbling wizard Shaya Mwelasi and the great Oscar Mengo.”
Bobby rose to prominence on the coaching scene after he won the coveted MTC Namibia Premier League (NPL) title with African Stars in 2009, before cementing Stars’ perfect rise to stardom with a double the following year – clinching both the league and the Leo NFA Cup titles the following season.
It did not stop there, the stocky gaffer added the 2015 Bidvest Namibia Cup onto his impressive resume, this time with Tigers.
As fate would dictate, Bobby was lured back to his happy hunting ground at Stars where he announced his return by winning 2016 Standard Bank Super Cup on only his first attempt.
Still at the helm of “Starlile”, the much-decorated mentor steered the Red-hot Stars to their 4th national league title in as many years. The celebrations have hardly evaporated when he masterminded the Reds to victory in the final of the lucrative Debmarine Namibia Cup against a stubborn UNAM side.