From a relatively unknown player to strutting his stuff with the best on the continent, Isaskar 'Bio' Gurirab said there is still more to come from him as he takes small humble steps to become one of the best players to have come out of Uis in the Erongo region.
Gurirab, who in the 2018/19 Namibia Premier League (NPL) season was voted Best Player and went to scoop the Golden Boot award with his 22 goals from 24 matches, helped Otjiwarongo-based Life Fighters FC to a remarkable fifth place finish that season before domestic football came to a complete standstill over a year ago. The 22-year-old striker, who now plays for Difaa Hassani El Jadidi in the Moroccan Premier League, took time out to talk to Thru Pass (TP) to share his rise from the dusty fields of Uis to scoring his first two goals for the Brave Warriors.
TP: Bio, tell us how does it feel coming from Uis, a small village, to becoming a top marksman in the flagship league of the country?
Bio: Uhm, I never had much impact in the First and Second Division, so to be a top goal scorer of NPL felt so awesome. It was a way to let people know that you don’t have to be from big towns to score goals or make it big, so it is an amazing feeling.
TP: When did you start playing football?
Bio: I started playing football at an early age, but my competitive game was when we toured with the school to Uis in 2014. I was 14 years old.
TP: Have you always been a forward?
Bio: I am comfortable in any position. My first Skorpion Zinc Cup for the Under 17’s I featured for Erongo as a defensive midfielder, while my debut in the Newspaper Cup I played as defensive midfielder and central defender. At my local team, Imcor Chiefs and the school team I would usually play on the wing and score goals, so they tried me as a striker, I did the job well and from there I became more of a striker.
TP: A lot of people from your area, especially your family, are proud of your achievements and your career is only taking off. How happy are you that they are part of your journey?
Bio: Growing up, I always challenged myself to achieve the impossible things. To do things bigger than me. Aged just 13, I was playing with older players and I already knew I would play in the Premier League and make a name. They were always there to motivate and support me, but never did it cross my mind that one day I would be a top goal scorer. It is a wonderful feeling to know they are there and also good for them to be part of my footballing past and future.
TP: You were voted Player of the Year and also scooped the Golden Boot award during the 2018/19 NPL season, how did you feel winning those two awards?
Bio: It was a pleasant surprise to be voted for that award. I really did not think I would be a player of the season in my maiden season in the NPL, but I am just grateful for everyone who was part of my success in that season. A big thank you to all the players, the technical team and everyone that stood behind me.
TP: How did you transition from being a young unknown footballer to one of the highly-rated strikers in Namibia?
Bio: I was never shy to show what I am capable of doing on the pitch, so this comes down to my favorite coach, Ignatius Elemu, Father, as we call him, who allowed me to express myself on the pitch and always pushed me to the limit to get the best out of me, because he saw something no one did. He is the reason for all credit I get.
TP: When you were growing up, what sort of techniques were you trying to develop into your game and were there any players in particular you looked up to?
Bio: I was always encouraged to score goals and I would practice scoring goals in an empty goal, because it is the most difficult thing of scoring. I draw my inspiration from Lionel Messi.
TP: Your one-on-one against defenders is unbelievable. Tell us about that…?
Bio: Playing or dribbling defenders is something that’s comes naturally, so I can’t explain but I have this to say; “if you’re a defender and you come while I’m in control of the ball, expect the unexpected. (Jy sal dans sonder music).
TP: What would you say are your best attributes as a player?
Bio: Being fast and strong.
TP: You have played against different players before. Who is your toughest opponent?
Bio: Toughest players I played against? Hmmm let me think. It is Charles Hambira of Tura Magic and Ivan Kamberipa of African Stars. They are hard tacklers and difficult to beat.
TP: What was your reaction after you were called up for the Brave Warriors and scoring two goals from the bench in the Cosafa Cup?
Bio: To be honest it’s too good to be true and hard to believe that I represented my country and scored two goals. It was about nine months ago that I was playing bush football and now scoring at Cosafa. It gave me hope that I can go far if I continue working hard and do what is expected of me.
TP: Tell us about your experience of representing your country at the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt?
Bio: It was a huge step for me. Afcon is something I would only watch on TV at other people’s houses and to be part of it was life changing for me, even though it wasn’t what I wanted performance based, but I have to go on and try and win something with the national team in the future.
TP: What message do you have for fellow young players?
Bio: Football is not about where you come from or how small you are. If you have passion and desire to thrive to be it somewhere, just go for your dreams and never forget that discipline is key to every success. Respect others and yourself and most of all, take care of your body and always stay healthy.
TP: Which team do you support locally and abroad?
Bio: Locally, Life Fighters and Chelsea in England. I also support Matsatsantsa aka Supersport United in South Africa.
TP: I thank you for taking time out to speak to us.
Bio: Thanks and have a good time.