Tribute to an unsung football icon, gone too soon: Salathiel Michael Ndjao, aka Stimela (1961 – 2006)
Windhoek Born Salathiel Michael Ndjao in the harbour town of Walvis-Bay in 1961 in the vast Erongo Region, Stimela was just like any other boy in the football-crazy neigbourhood. He would play football at the slightest provocation, be it at school or on the way to the nearby tuck shop. Like many of his peers, he started out with Kuisebmond’s most popular football club, Blue Waters, and played for the club’s lower teams alongside the likes of Leo Koutondokwa, Britho Shipanga, Dan-Boy Ndjadila, Bomber Salomo, Shoppy Shekupe, Enos Petrus, Koko Muatunga, Lucky Shipanga, Karasa Mupupa and some of the greatest talents on offer. It was a businessman from Tseiblaagte (Keetmanshoop largest residential area), Henry Schultz, who sweet-talked the versatile young footballer into relocating to the South, where he was to further his secondary school studies in the 80’s at the revered J.A Nel Secondary School in Tseiblaagte. Upon his arrival in Keetmanshoop, Stimela joined forces with the exciting Young Beauties Football Club, a team laden with students from the J.A Nel Secondary School. He was to form the backbone of the team, playing alongside the late pair of Chris Amakali and Super Eiseb, as well as Mabos Vries, Justice Basson, Lucky Boostander, Lucky ‘Bazooka’ Richter, Jordan Afrikaner, Pius Kasera and Malan van der Westhuizen. His arrival at the club coincided with a change in guard in terms of supremacy on the domestic football scene as the Lucky Boostander-inspired Beauties started to make serious inroads into previously uncharted territory, where the likes of Try Again, King Pele Santos and Black Arrows used to reign supreme. The black and white striped outfit attracted the crème de la crème of the finest young footballers from the length and breadth of the country, including lethal goal poachers Lucky Richter, Justice Basson, Lappies Lamperloth and Jorries Afrikaner, amongst others. Salat’s exploits on the football field caught the attention of many talent scouts who were circling like vultures over the southern capital in search of raw talent to bolster their squads. It was only a fitting tribute that he would resurface at parent club Blue Waters, back in his native Walvis Bay, where he was to form a telepathic partnership with veteran centre-Ranga Lucas in the heart of the Birds’ rearguard. After some impressive displays for his boyhood team, Katutura giants were severely short of a reliable centre-back, following the inevitable retirement of the club’s blue-eyed boy and long serving captain Steve ‘Kalamazoo’ Stephanus. The Ghosts, with advice from youngsters Mabos Vries and Jorries Afrikaner – former teammates of Stimela at Young Beauties – recommended their former teammate as the potential and most suitable replacement for the departed Steve. The often-robust defender could not resist the lure of the bright lights of the capital city and left his boyhood team to join the newly revamped Buccaneers, and as they say, the rest is history. He quickly established himself as a pillar of strength in the Pirates’ back four, playing alongside the speedy Frans Kazimbu, Samuel Doeseb and Brian Greaves. He went on to become probably one of the most influential players in the history of the Ghosts and played a pivotal role in steering Pirates to victory in the Novel Ford Cup. He was regarded by many football pundits as the most consistent defender in the business. The imposing huge-framed centre-back became a household name in domestic football and it came as no surprise when he was included in the Namibian Invitational team during Namibia’s inaugural Independence Anniversary at the packed to rafters Independence Stadium in Windhoek in 1990. The Namibian team played against the visiting Russian giants Spartak Moscow to mark Namibia’s first steps topwards democracy. Stimela was amongst the very few selected to share the field and changing rooms with internationals, such as Hector Camacho, Karl-Heinz Rummenige and the great Jomo Sono. Stimela manned the shaky Namibian defense with aplomb and emerged with flying colours from the historic encounter. Back at club level, Salat won almost everything there was to be won and would go on to oversee several generations at Pirates, as the Buccaneers grew in stature. On the flip side, a crowd favourite, Stimela was quite a funny character and would always showboat to draw attention from his adoring followers. On one such occasion, Pirates were trailing and in dire need of an equaliser when the slightly injured Stimela went down outside the touchline, calling for medical treatment. His furious teammate, the late Bandi Namaseb would have none of that and shouted to the Pirates’ substitutes bench to act swiftly – instructing the late Dios Engelbrecht to effect a substitution without further delay, while the “injured” Bra Stimela was rolling on the ground like a baby in apparent pain on the touchline. Bra Stimela was suddenly freshened up and immediately ran onto the field damn afraid of being taken off. That was Bra Stimela for you! As fate would have it, the likeable tough-tackling defender succumbed to illness in 2006. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
New Era Reporter
2015-10-16 11:21:59 3 years ago