It never rains but pours for the youthful Khomasdal outfit Civics Football Club, aka “The Mighty Civilians”. Brutal misfortune seems to follow the maroon and white strip outfit with devastating outcomes at every turn, with a significant number of the club’s playing personnel departing from mother earth under mysterious circumstances. The sad news about the death of one of the Civilians’ most deadly goal poachers, Hendrik “Mandla” Gamatham, has sent shockwaves among the usually easy-going Dolam and Khomasdal communities as well as the entire Namibian football fraternity. The retired Civilians’ net buster died after a short illness at the Katutura State Hospital, in Windhoek, last week.
Famously peddling the name of former Orlando Pirates (South Africa) serial goal scorer Mandla Sithole, aka “Metroblitz”, Hendrik “Mandla” Gamatham demonstrated similar killer instincts in front of goal as his South African namesake and was doubtlessly one of the most feared strikers of his generation.
The serial net-buster played a pivotal role in the incredible upsurge of the youthful Civilians outfit at the dawn of Namibia’s independence in 1990.
Your typical old-fashioned forward, Mandla, was a goal scorer of note who made the art of goal scoring look so easy, like taking candy from an unsuspecting toddler. The speedy forward was the catalyst in the Civilians firing line alongside the equally deadly striking partners Jan Cloete, Basie English, Deon Broockes, and Johannes Hoko Kasibu.
Admittedly, Mandla’s unmatched consistency, complimented by an avalanche of goals and an unbelievable ability to show up for the big occasions, propelled the Civilians to greater heights in the country’s topflight football league as the Khomasdal outfit started making serious inroads in the annals of domestic football.
History reveals that the emergence of the youthful Civilians partly contributed to the demise of another Khomasdal giant, the Young Ones Football Club, aka “The Kings at Night”. The two bitter rivals went head on for territorial supremacy, and matches between these two teams never failed to live up to expectations.
And whereas Young Ones Football Club was a prominently Coloured/Baster community entity, the bulk of the playing personnel at the Civilians were from different cultural backgrounds with strong South African genes. As such, it was only befitting that the team’s trademark playing style connected perfectly with “Kasi Football”.
Prominent footies such as Basie English, Brian “Oubaas” Isaacs, Willem “Om Joep” Cloete, Elgin “Sputla” Masite, Ricardo “Bucksy” Manetti, Stanley “Tiger” Goagoseb, Jeremy “Majier” Zimmer, Johannes Hoko Kasibu, William Chilufwa, Floris “Squirrel’ Diergaardt, Mac Camm, Johannes Mabos “Vialli” Ortmann, Eugene “Rex” English, Costa Khaiseb, and Donnelly Nell, certainly left their mark in the annals of domestic football.
Well, Mandla might not have been handsomely blessed with the skills and flamboyance of fellow strikers Kosie Springbok, Lance “Jakkals” Willemse, Deon Broockes, or Joseph “Draaitjies’ Martin, but the boy from Dolam was a class act; he knew the exact route to the goalposts, indeed a goal scorer par excellence, scoring unexpectedly from tight angles with ease.
The much-travelled former Civics forward Johannes Hoko Kasibu, describes his ex-teammate as a complete package who could have played abroad had independence come during his prime.
“I was fortunate to play alongside Mandla at Civics. The boy was a clinical finisher with brilliant ball control, complimented by great technique. From what I was told, he went through the polished hands of an astute football coach, the late Hans Dios “Zebbo” Engelbrecht, during his formative years, and one could see he was well-coached about the finer points of the game”.
Mandla honed his football skills in the dusty streets of Dolam, a section of Katutura in the northern part of Namibia’s commercial hub, Windhoek. He played for youthful Dolam outfit Iwisa alongside the legendary Reinhardt “Wagga” Goagoseb, excelling in the hotly contested unofficial knockout cup tournaments.
The deadly attacker ended his playing career with a short-lived stint at Donkerhoek outfit Tigers Football Club following his shock departure from the smooth-sailing Civilians.
Regrettably, as has become customary among many former footies, Bro. Mandla endured some hardships upon retirement from competitive football, cutting the sight of an abandoned child.
This once again brings to the fore much-needed proposals to establish a fund or organisation that would take care of retired players when their playing days are gone. Let us give people their flowers while they are still breathing. Hendrik “Mandla” Gamatham is now reunited with a significant chunk of former teammates from the Civilians who have all exited the game of life while still at the pinnacle of their flourishing playing careers in the following sequence;
Pekara Kaaheke, Eugene “Rex” English, Deon Scural Ralla Klaaste, Richard Ventura, Lucas Orr, Victor Helu, Bobby Kaapama, Franklin “Pielle” April, Deon Broockes, Gilbert “The Beast” Mazembe, Reggie Willemse, Patrick Jaegger, Lucky Maselesele, club stalwarts Izaak “Om Jeep” Daries, and Uncle Bronny Willemse. May their souls continue to rest in collective power.