Tales of the Legends – Tribute to an Unsung Hero – Danger Siririka 1931-2002

Katutura glamour football club African Stars began their tentative journey to where they are today in Windhoek’s Old Location with the inevitable amalgamation of Juvenile and Young Battery football clubs in 1952. It was only fitting that the newly established club would inherit the redwhite and redblue colours from both teams and that is perhaps also why the colours red and white dwarf the blue stripes. The initial idea was to mount a g challenge against the seemingly unending dominance of domestic football by Tigers, Thistles and Cape Cross in those years. Stars announced their arrival with stellar performances as the club toured towns like Otjiwarongo and Gobabis, while competing fiercely against the Zebras Football Club from the Garden Town (Okahandja). The club produced a number of high profile footballers, but none was as prominent as the versatile bulky framed Cleophas Siririka, better known as ‘Danger’ in football circles or Siseva among his buddies and acquaintances. The beanpole centre back was a chip from the old block playing with distinction in almost all positions, while also doubling up as a noted shot-stopper during his early days with Juvenile FC. New Era Sports relives the full story of one of Namibia’s most talented footballers.

WINDHOEK – Departed former Juvenile, African Stars and Explorer Eleven FC versatile centre back, Cleophas Siririka, also known as ‘Danger’ will go down in the history books as among that rare breed of athletes who maximized the power of the beautiful game to challenge the sickening segregation laws forced on blacks by the South African apartheid regime.

Danger was among a handful of footballers that dug their heels in the sand refusing point blank to be dictated to by the gun-toting local authorities on football related matters. In 1966, football bosses proposed an exhibition football match, reminiscent of the South West Africa (SWA) Black XI friendly against their white counterparts ten years later. The authorities wanted two separate teams with one comprising of blacks only and the other one exclusively for coloureds and Basters. The proposal was rejected forthrightly by both sets of players from the black and coloured communities, very much against the wishes of the colonial administrators. Danger joined the chorus of contempt with his team mates, including the late political activist one Floyd Maharero, Timo Mwetuyela, Joe Kariko, Boks Olivier and the ever uncompromising political activist Bobby Sissing. The players stood their ground telling the thick-skulled white authorities in no uncertain terms where exactly to get off.

The gly built Cleophas, nicknamed Danger by his peers on the football field, because of his imposing frame and unrivaled tactical acumen with the spherical object glued to his feet used to be a fearless competitor as can be attested by those who rubbed shoulders with him. He possessed everything required from a complete athlete, g in the challenge, great vision, commitment, endurance, while he packed dynamite in both feet. And while many of his celebrated team mates would go for self glorification – his customary unselfish playing style endured him more as a team player, while he could also slot into any position when the need arose. “That guy was a Bull Terrier on the football pitch and never pulled out of tackles. He also had a brilliant first touch and was very committed and comfortable on the ball, despite his big frame,” recalls former team mate Bobby Sissing.

The football crazy bulky lad started playing competitive football with Juvenile Football Club in Windhoek’s Old Location and in no time established himself as one of the most sought-after footballers in the business. He was a founder member of African Stars when footballers from Stars and Young Battery Football Clubs decided to dissolve both teams to pave the way for a more competitive club that would represent the OvahereroOvambanderu speaking inhabitants of the Old Location. According to sources with intimate knowledge of the inevitable merger, the ultimate objective was to halt the dominance of football’s heavyweights Tigers and Thistles. Danger became the toast of the newly formed Stars outfit’s supporters and formed a deadly combination with the late Mbauka Hengari, Charles Kauraisa, Oscar Norich-Tjahuha and other highly gifted footballers recruited to join forces with the emerging football club.

However, Danger sent shockwaves among the Stars faithful when he abandoned the Reds ship in a hush to join forces with the star-studded and newly formed Explorer Eleven Football Club, dragging the pair of George ‘Kanima’ Hoveka and Floyd ‘Kamaarijanda’ Maharero along. The team attracted the cregraveme de la cregraveme of Khomasdal and Katutura and looked destined to write a new chapter in the annals of domestic football – considering the galaxy of starts at its disposal. Following a few exhibition matches against local opponents that attracted large crowds, Explorer Eleven undertook a provincial tour to Upington, South Africa where they played in front of large crowds against Dalton Brothers and Paballelo Chiefs – winning one match and drawing the other with Danger providing the much-needed ammunition for the dangerous striking pair of Hoveka and Mwetuyela. There is an old adage that one cannot have two bulls in one kraal and this traditional belief seemed to have spiralled down to the much anticipated fortunes of Explorer Eleven as the team dismally failed to stamp its authority in domestic knockout cup tournaments.

Despite being loaded with star quality players led by the speedy Werrick ‘Uerivara’ Zimmer, Paul Willemse, Joe Kariko, John Swartz, Tommy Jarman, Sonny-Boy Bailey, Times Mwetuyela and Zoro Kariko – the supposedly untouchable combination could just not get out of first gear. This sad situation eventually propelled the bulk of the playing personnel to embark on a quick retreat – tiptoeing to their respective teams with their tails firmly tucked between the legs. Danger, the prodigal son and his accomplices in the crime of desertion found themselves back in familiar territory at Stars. His imposing presence in the heart of the Stars rearguard galvanised what was considered an average Reds squad with many of the old guard already getting a bit long in the tooth. He soldiered on and managed to lead Stars to several cup triumphs in knockout cup competitions in the absence of proper league structures. Danger was a valuable member of the Reds’ last generation of players before the inevitable arrival of several highly gifted young footballers, who took over the reigns from an ailing Reds squad. The defensive pair of Amos ‘Superman’ Tjombe and Mike ‘Kangova’ Pack remained the only survivors from the old guard. The new generation under the stewardship of the gly built Kaika Kuzee, was to change the club’s fortunes forever and took little time to revive the ailing fortunes of an average and gravely ageing football team facing certain doom.

The success hungry youngsters turned Stars into a glamour football entity with their simple one touch style of play – thus convincing the thousands of want-away supporters to return in large numbers and throw their weight behind their beloved club. In the intervening years Stars produced many great players such as the club’s blue eyed boy Oscar Mengo, Kaika Kuzee, Willy Rwida, George Gariseb, Ace Tjirera, Ben Kauejao, Albert Tjihero, Kaputji Kuhanga, Doc Naobeb, Marques Kamuserandu, Jackson Meroro, Juku Tjazuko, Bernard Newman, Mannetjie Kaimu, Nico Hindjou and many others, but that repertoire will be incomplete without Danger Siririka. Danger was up there with the very best on offer, not only did he excel at club level, but he can justifiably be counted as one of the greatest footballers Namibia has ever produced. The clicheacute about the apple not falling far from the tree is certainly true in the case of Danger. After all, both his sons Muuaa and Toromba Siririka were formidable footballers in their heyday with Tigers and Hungry Lions Football Clubs respectively.

Source : New Era