That fateful Sunday afternoon, 28 March 2004 will go down in history as the darkest day in Namibian football.
An unfortunate horrific car accident between Windhoek and Rehoboth tragically abbreviated the lives of former Tigers FC players and supporters in the shape of Tiwi Kaundje, Bobby Taapopi, Roslyn da Silva – leaving one of the club’s most complete footballers Hartmut “Bricks” Hangula, gravely incapacitated.
Being the courageous unbelievably brave young man he was on the football field, Bricks managed to weather the storm and went about life for almost fifteen solid years before succumbing to the injuries sustained in the car accident.
Sadly, the much adored retired versatile defender blew his last breath on Mother Earth on Friday, 1st November 2019 at the Katutura State Hospital. May his soul rest in peace.
WINDHOEK – As the football fraternity, notably bona fide members of the “Ingweinyama” family were coming to terms with the sudden passing of club great Nandos “The Cat” Mbako, another tragedy struck.
Although he had been terminally ill after having survived that horrific car accident by the skin of his teeth, Bricks’ precious life was never going to be the same again.
The author has been privileged to share dozens of great moments with the departed “Bricks” on and off the field during his illustrious football career. He made his senior bow in topflight football against my former club ‘The Brave Lions of Judah’ (Hungry Lions FC) at the old Katutura stadium in 1986.
Still young, raw and barely out of his pair of shorts, Bricks was literally thrown into the lions’ den playing in an advanced midfield role but stood his ground. He caught the attention of many football lovers with an amazing solid display way defying his tender age.
We were all raving about this unknown young fellow with the heart of a lion, playing with amazing confidence like a seasoned campaigner – I vividly recall my teammate Billy Tuahepa uttering the following words: “Mbuae okandu kazupi nga kuke hina omupatatjira uombwa ondjenda?” in the Otjihereo vernacular. Loosely translated, Billy said, “Where did this young fellow come from, who does not tuck his tail between the legs like a new dog?”
Bricks never looked back and was generally regarded as amongst the few most outstanding youngsters coming through the ranks. His inevitable arrival at “Ingwe” perfectly coincided with the unavoidable departure of many of the club’s stalwarts who had become a bit long in the tooth.
The likes of Grey Umati, lanky fullbacks Abnery Tobias, Silas Nuyoma, Kumi Umati, Steve Haihambo and many others were entering the twilight of their marathon football careers.
Bricks and fellow car accident victim Tiwi Kaundje were the only youngsters fast-tracked to bolster an ageing Tigers squad at the time when domestic football was taking a new shape following the formation of the breakaway league, the National Super Soccer League (NSSL) in 1985.
It was not long before he was shifted to the center back position at the reigning league champions partnering evergreen Mentos Hipondoka – succeeding the ageing Hofney “Grey” Umati in the heart of Ingwe’s watertight defence.
His eye-catching solid defensive work, complemented by frequent forward arrays, made him a darling amongst Ingwe’s supporters and teammates alike to the extent that he was handsomely rewarded with the captain’s armband.
An unbelievable rare talent, Bricks was a dead ball specialist par excellence and possessed almost all the attributes required in a complete footballer.
In addition, he was a damn good reader of the game with a gorgeous first touch and oh boy!!!, he never pulled out of tough battles when it came down to stopping marauding strikers right in their tracks through his traditional bone-crunching tackles.
Bricks would always weigh in with the odd goal whenever the situation demanded and rescued his team on numerous occasions from set pieces around the penalty box.
He rose to prominence when he was selected for the Brave Warriors truly representative national team at international level when Namibia hosted Mauritius in an international friendly at Windhoek’s Independence stadium in 1990. Debutants Namibia triumphed via Foresta Nicodemus’ sole strike.
Making his bow on the international stage at the time when Namibia gained her long awaited democracy from Apartheid South Africa was a precious moment to treasure and Bricks will go down is history as one of the greatest talents of his generation.
History reveals that Tigers, as the oldest football club in the country, has produced great football teams in the past but none of those teams came anywhere near the Times Mwetuyela-inspired devastating “Ingwe” outfit in the mid-sixties and early seventies.
The only team that could match their exploits pound for pound was without an iota of doubt the golden generation of the nineties, spearheaded by slippery attacking free scoring midfielder Helmuth “Teenage” Iyambo and Frans “Foresta” Nicodemus.
Statistics don’t’ lie and one only needs to page through the club’s record books in the country’s flagship knockout competition, the prestigious NFA Cup.
The rejuvenated “Ingwe” made this particular competition their own fortress – reaching the final on many occasions including three consecutive appearances (1994-96), winning two from five attempts, certainly an incredible achievement.
He also skippered Ingwe to a priceless gold medal after Tigers clinched the prestigious Metropolitan Cup to complete a cup double in 1996.
Upon his retirement from competitive football, Bricks was installed as assistant head coach in 1997 and was the head coach when Tigers lost the NFA Cup final against Blue Waters in Walvis Bay and was elevated to head coach when Ingwe succumbed to Chief Santos at the same venue on penalties in the same competition in 1999.
Like many youngsters from the Donkerhoek section, Bricks was a product of Tigers’ unofficial feeder team Golden Rivers FC.
Bricks originally hailed from the copper town of Tsumeb, following in the footsteps of Ingwe’s greats spearheaded by Times Mwetulyela, Honnie Ochurub, Pwiro Angula, Burikie Vorster, Johnny and Martin Veiko, Bandike Ochurub and Sackey Ipinge, amongst others.
Bricks will be buried at the Pionierspark graveyard, southern Windhoek, tomorrow morning with the cultural rituals to be observed at the family residence Erf 5554, Erastus Amgabeb Street, Donkerhoek at 06h30.
A memorial service will be held in his memory at the Macedonia Parish in Katutura this afternoon at 18h00. May his soul rest in peace in one piece.