The Sleeping Giant of Namibian Football – Tigers, Trendsetters

With virtually no recreational facilities in sight – a group of disgruntled Railway labourers teamed up with well to do self-styled immaculately dressed blokes from the neigbourhood.

This group consisted of chaps from the old block, the men about town driving around the country as camouflaged travel agents ferrying their flamboyant Jewish paymasters in the lucrative retail business – much to the admiration of the less privilege living in the Kassie.

The trendsetters formed a football team going by the name of Tigers and as they say, the rest is history.

Namibian football is heavily indebted to the following gentlemen that anchored this great football club into life against all the odds staked against their noble idea. Those were Ananias Shipena, Abraham Namwandi, Mukurundu Hoveka, Mathias von Luttichau, Nikanor Shikwambi and Aaron Shivute, to mention but a few.

Matches used to be fiercely contested at the deliberately constructed sub-standard field situated at the premises of the old MH Greef Primary School before action was relocated to the more user friendly gravel Bantu field near the Municipality building for (Bantus) natives (current lodging of Emma Hoogenhout Primary School).

Tigers boasted the bulk of supply to the occasionally selected star-studded Bantu Invitational Eleven. However, the players would find themselves subjected to apartheid in the highest order while playing for their native land on foreign soil.

The trio of Nandos Mbako, Coloured Kakololo and Timo Mwetuyela were all in the starting lineup when the South West Africa (SWA) Bantu Invitation ran rings around the out of sorts South African Provincial Army team in Bloemfontein.

In an exhibition match against a hapless lily-white South African Army team, the team from SWA proved a menace for the their pale skin counterparts with their free flowing style of football.

The visitors’ overwhelming dominance obliged the hosts to call halt midway through the match in order to adjust the rules, very much against the spirit of “Fair Play”,

The skillful and more streetwise poor darkies from across the Orange River were ordered in no uncertain terms not to cross the halfway line for the remainder of the match.

And to rub salt to the wound, the darkish hide athletes were also obliged to collect stray balls while the fatigued and less skillful pale skinned opponents waited in comfort to take throw-ins and kick offs to resume play in a conservative city where the beautiful game played second fiddle to the oval game of rugby.

Back home, Tigers used to cause lots of upsets in the old days to remain the undisputable champions of Kasie football – leaving no other club a chance to compete with any trophy in the cupboard. The team’s favourite hunting ground used to be the Katutura stadium, proudly duped the “grassy park – okahozu” (now Sam Nujoma Stadium).

The team won almost everything there was to be won as the team maintained a spirit of valour right through to leave no hope for any other clubs in the business to match their feat.

History reveals that both Tigers and Thistles (Khomasdal) were the finest football entities in the business and the envy of every neutral football-loving fan before the forced removal from the old location to Katutura in 1968.

The arrival of the dangerous striking pair of Times Mwetuyela and Honnie Ochurub from the Copper Town (Tsumeb), added a new dimension to Tigers’ overall style of play as the team became unbeatable and the toast of every football loving soul in the domestic setup.

Though Tigers was to be blessed with another superstar in the shape of skillful forward Sigfried “Dale” Stephanus in the intervening years, football pundits gly believe the late fast as lightning left winger, Mwetuyela was indeed the real deal.

Tigers have produced a significant number of exceptionally highly talented footballers in the mould of Ferre Akwenye, Purikie Vorster, Nandos Mbako, Amos Tjombe, Kapuii Angula, Seth Urib, Johnny Veiko, General Angala, Grey Umati, Brown Amuenje, Kayala Haufiku, Mentos Hipondoka, Dale Stephanus, Bricks Hangula, Teenage Iyambo and many others.

Truth be told, no other player has caught the admiration of local football followers with much fanfare than nimble footed habitual net rattler Forresta Nicodemus.

With the match destined for a stalemate, an unbelievable piece of individual virtuosity produced a breathtaking winning goal via the obedient Adidas boot of the slippery Forra, a proteacuteeacute of Hungry Lions, brought an end to Black Africa’s reign as undisputable cup champions in the final of the lucrative NFA Windhoek Lager Cup in 1996.

Tigers were the deserved inaugural winners of the g eight-team breakaway rebel league, the Namibia National Super League (NNSL) in 1985 – signaling a befitting gesture in consolidating their credentials as the implementers of the game domestically.

In the mid 80’s, Stephanus and Orlando Pirates sharp shooter Kleintjie Gaseb, rewrote the history books. The pair joined Hasso Ahrens as the only representatives from our neck of the woods to get their names engraved in the Hall of Fame, certainly a well-deserved reward for inclusion in the prestigious Springbok squad.

The players were rewarded for their splendid performance in the highly competitive South African Provincial Currie Cup. Dale’s near faultless display earned him a contract with South African Professional Soccer League (PSL) outfit Hellenic FC.

Source : New Era