Tales of the Legends – Gone Too Soon – Football’s Wunderkind, Jason ‘Kayala’ Haufiku

Timo Mwetuyela, Jimmy Hendrix, Albert Einstein, Lionel Messi, Ludwig Beethoven, Diego Maradona, Kaizer Motaung, Kleintjie Gaseb, Bekhi Khoza, Kaputji Kuhanga, Norries Goraseb, Britho Shipanga, Nerab Gariseb, Paul Urib, Brazzo Kaomusab. What do these people have in common?

Well! they are all left handed and there is an old adage that unorthodox human beings are generally blessed with an extra-ordinary level of intelligence, coupled with an aura of unbelievable virtuosity in whatever they lay their hands on. Former Tigers Football Club midfield-cum-striker, one Jason ‘Kayala’ Haufiku, falls exactly in the same category. In hindsight, the soft-spoken gangling striker looked like somebody who could hardly harm a fly, but was a different character on the football pitch who could mesmerise opposing defenders with his uncanny dribbling style and canon like shots.

Whereas the great Times Mwetuyela possessed blistering pace, quick and was blessed with a sweet left foot, Kayala was a highly gifted footballer who made football fans eat out of the palms of his hands, as a result of his unorthodox dribbling style complemented by a brilliant first touch never seen in this neck of the woods for a very long time. He was among a generation of highly talented athletes, who never had the opportunity to unleash their full potential after he fled his native land to escape constant harassment by the South African Apartheid regime. Here is the story of a highly gifted athlete, who could arguably have gone all the way to become one of the greatest footballers of all time, at least in our neck of the woods.

WINDHOEK – When the South West Africa Non-European Football Association selected what was probably the gest football team in the history of this country to represent the country in the biennual SANFA Inter-Provincial Soccer Tournament in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1974 – the team left without two vital members in their ranks in the shape of deadly strikers Celle Auchumeb and Jason ‘Kayala’ Haufuku. While Auchumeb dug in his heels for personal reasons, young Kayala packed his bags, but took the opposite direction – going into exile to join the struggle for independence. He was one of two members from Tigers FC selected for the SWA team, but Tigers ended up with only one representative in a team that saw Orlando Pirates, African Stars and Poison Cobra hugely represented. Brown Amwenye was the other member of Tigers in the squad.

Kayala was born in the small village of Omundudu in the Ohangwena Region, but spent a significant part of his infant years in the harbour town of Walvis Bay after his family relocated to the coastal town at the tender age of seven. According to his cousin, Ngeno Nakamhela, well-known retired Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church In Namibia (ELCIN) – young Kayala was a very obedient boy with mild manners and was always committed to whatever tasks he undertook. “We grew up together, he always exercised self-discipline way beyond his tender age and was a boy who never used foul language or misbehaved. He was very quite, but also naughty like any other boy his age at the time. Kayala showed great skill as a young footballer playing among his buddies in the popular street games in the neigbourhood after school and on weekends,” recalls Reverend Nakamela. “Unfortunately, I never had the chance to follow his blossoming football career as I left the country by the time he went to Augustineum High School. One thing is for sure, he was a star in the making as can be attested by his popularity in the street games where youngsters displayed amazing ball skills playing with small tennis balls glued to their tiny feet – the elders took a genuine liking to his amazing ball skills.”

He arrived at Augustineum as an unknown young raw footballer, but soon captured the imagination of many of his peers with his trickery with the spherical object, while playing for the school team – Golden Bees Football Club, a team composed of predominantly Oshiwambo-speaking learners. Back home in Kuisebmund, Kayala regularly featured for local team Ricket FC during school holidays and eventually graduated to the next level – playing in organized structures with the Blue Waters second strings.

A real genius, Kayala’s football prowess prompted scouts from Tigers Football Club to act swiftly to persuade the young, left-footed lad to join forces with the Donkerhoek-based outfit. His arrival at Tigers almost coincided with the untimely death of the club’s blue-eyed boy, Times Mwetuyela and Kayala was touted as a suitable replacement for the departed Times, who also happened to be left-footed. He quickly knuckled down to some serious business and settled in like a glove in hand in the star studded Tigers line-up where he rubbed shoulders with established stars such Grey Umati, Brown Amwenye, Tiwes Mbako, Martin Veiko, Jerry Tobias, Nandos ‘The Cat’ Mbako, Kapuii Angula, Oom Paul Hiskia and Scalla Shaanika among others. His presence in the blue and white strip of Ingweinyama lifted the team to great heights as Tigers went all out to reestablish themselves as a major force to be reckoned with in domestic topflight football after a brief slump in form following the death of Times.

Though a newcomer on the football scene Kayala became an instant hit among football lovers to the extent that he was to be given the freedom of the Donkerhoek location by Tigers diehards. However, the excitement soon petered out as the nimble-footed winger developed itchy feet leaving the country in a hush by crossing the border into Botswana. His unexpected departure left team mates and fans flabbergasted, since he was about to join his team mates for a historic journey to Johannesburg, South Africa to represent his country in the highly competitive biennual South African Native Football Association (SANFA) Inter-Provincial Soccer Tournament, the Impala Cup in 1974. The team won the tourney with his replacement and the late Orlando Pirates flying winger Willem Eichab netted a brace in the final at a packed to rafters Orlando Stadium, in Soweto.

Kayala resurfaced in Zambia and found refuge at the Old Farm Camp near Lusaka, before relocating to the Swapo Military Training Camp, New Oshatotwa. At New Oshatotwa, he teamed up with countrymen and comrades Immanuel Naobeb, Mice Sarob, Joel Gariseb, Simon Goliath, Mbunga Hoveka, Gabriel Gariseb, Japan Isaacs, Ben Motinga and Salmon Garoeb. Kayala continued playing football with his homeboys against local teams from that country’s lower leagues, which were also highly competitive. The Namibians put together a formidable team and competed fiercely against the g Kenneth Kaunda Foundation Football Club, Arakan Barracks FC under the wing of the Zambian Defence Force, the University of Zambia and Evelyn Hone College. The squad included highly gifted footballers led by former Blue Waters greats Lemmy Lazarus, Zondi Amadhila, Lohmeir Angula, Petrus Damaseb, Willem ‘Bizzah’ Basson, Hans Clasen, Benny Petrus, Thomas Eiseb and Kalla Gertze among others.

Source : New Era