Hafeni ‘Teenage’ Mwashekele, an unheralded football genius

It's fair to conclude that had former Hungry Lions Football Club midfield general, one Hafeni 'Teenage' Mwashekele, played for one of the big clubs, he could now be spoken of in the same breath as Lucky Boostander, Koko Muatunga, Samora Apollus, George Nawatiseb and some of the greatest midfielders to have graced our shores.

Bro Teenage was without an iota of doubt one of very few great midfielders of his generation, if not the finest of them all.

Strongly built, blessed with football brains second to none, complemented by an unbelievable, phenomenal first touch, the likable quiet-spoken Omulunga Township, Grootfontein-born lanky athlete was your typical modern day box-to-box midfield general.

He would terrorize bewildered opponents with his mazy runs while his hypnotizing telling passes and vision left defenders in absolute awe.

Though a bit long in the tooth at the time, the author had the distinct honour of rubbing shoulders on the field of play alongside bro 'Tena', as Teenage was duped by his adoring teammates at the Lions of Judah.

So, in view of that, the author is well placed and certainly fully qualified to describe this young man's football virtuosity in full detail � Teenage was just something out of the ordinary.

Carlos 'CK' Kambaekwa

Grootfontein-Born Hafeni Mwashekele and just turned 50 years of age on Wednesday, August 30, 2017, Teenage has been there and seen it all in domestic football.

Despite his somewhat abbreviated stint in topflight football, Teenage has certainly set a benchmark that great athletes could rise to big occasions despite playing alongside average teammates.

A dedicated cadre, a one-club man in real football terms, Teenage started his football career at unfashionable Omulunga outfit Dynamos, in the dusty fields of his hometown Grootfontein in the absence of proper recreational facilities.

Like many youngsters his age he started chasing leather very young, competing fiercely in the popular stake games in the dusty streets of Omulunga township, where he honed his football skills to perfection.

Though he showed glimpses of individual brilliance as an aspiring footballer it all came together in the city of lights (Windhoek) when he furthered his academic aspirations at the revered Augustineum Secondary School in the mid-eighties.

It was at Augustineum that young Tena announced his arrival on the football scene with intent via breathtaking performances week in and week out, way belying his rookie tag.

A keen tennis and rugby follower, Tena was always inspired by his local sports hero, the great national senior rugby team fullback Andre Stoop, whom he describes as the greatest athlete of all time.

Bro Tena hit the ground running after he joined forces with hostel side Windhoek City Football Club, a team made up of predominantly Ovaheroero speaking learners at the institution.

I arrived in Windhoek in 1985 and was drafted straight into the school's first team where I played alongside the late Costa Lucas, Dan Boy Ndjadila, Steve Imongwa and some other highly talented young footballers, recalls bro Tena.

In his own words, he befriended a number of fellow learners at the school, who were attached to Katutura giant killers Hungry Lions Football Club 'Jozo Mbande'.

I became good friends with Welcome 'Wallas' Kazondunge, who in turn introduced me to his teammates, the late Ringo Skrywer, and prominent lawyer Jeff Tjitemisa.

Ringo recommended me to the team's management under the astute stewardship of the late Ben Uanivi, who took me under his wing. I still regard him as my father because he was a true father figure to many of us and would always inspire us to greater heights.

Tena made his debut against Lions' eternal rivals and managed to register his name on the score sheet in the 2-1 win over the 'Kings of the Night', beating Ones' net minder, Reus Nortjie, hands down with one of his traditional long range scorchers.

He went on to to cement a permanent berth in the Lions starting line-up and was even bestowed with the sacred captain's armband as reward for his astonishing performances that made him the darling of the usually hard to please Lions supporters.

Tena formed an amazing telepathic combination with the ball-playing midfield partner Jeff Tjitemisa as the pair tormented the opposition at will with visionary displays to the delight of their teammates but much to the chagrin of their opponents.

In the intervening seasons Tena was at the centre of the Lions' attacks as the attacking midfielder almost single-handedly steered the Lions of Judah to the semifinals of the lucrative JPS Cup, to set up a nerve-wracking clash against coastal giants Blue Waters.

Sadly, the Lions of Judah bowed out through Striker Muaine's solitary headed goal from a corner kick (1-0).

In those days, small teams were always at the mercy of dubious referees' decisions whom I suspect of having been put under pressure by corrupt football officials to make damn sure that big teams were not eliminated from august tourneys as such practice would have negatively affected the turnstiles.

He followed up his good form with a goal when the Lions dispatched Tigers 1-0 in a league match at the old Katutura stadium, but could unfortunately not save the team from being relegated in controversial fashion.

The Lions were docked six valuable points for not honouring their last two crucial league fixtures away to coastal opponents Eleven Arrows and Explorer Eleven after the club requested a postponement as a result of family bereavement.

As fate would dictate, Tena retreated to his hometown Grootfontein, joining relegated Chelsea in 1988 where he established himself as a pillar of strength in the middle of the park alongside the ageing Pieces Damaseb.

However, work commitments obliged Tena to move town only to resurface in Ongwediva, in the vast Oshana Region where the nimble-footed midfielder joined forces with local giants African United.

He found himself playing alongside Angolan migrant Armando Pedro that saw the pair forming a dangerous combination. During his three-year stint with United, Tena spearheaded the club to victory in the Hunters Gold Cup and was subsequently made captain of United.

Tena grew up supporting Katutura giants Black Africa FC as a young boy and regards former Tigers tough as steak fullback Kumi 'Kaniedood' Umati as his toughest opponent.

The likeable midfielder also speaks highly of his former Lions teammate Chris Hauii Kamaundju, aka 'Toy Ramosa', whom he describes as an uncompromising 'Bull Terrier' on the field of play.

Those who had the rare privilege of watching Tena bewitch a spherical object opine that had independence arrived a bit earlier, the boy could easily have made the grade abroad with his unmatched football virtuosity.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia