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Max van Wyk’s football career reminiscence

2021-10-08  Carlos Kambaekwa

Max van Wyk’s football career reminiscence
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In hindsight, the much-travelled, adorable socialite looks like somebody who could hardly harm a fly, but oh boy, just place a spherical object at his feet and you suddenly witness many a shot-stopper having butterflies running riot in their bellies. 

The afro-haired net buster was not the quickest of athletes off the mark, but a brilliant first touch, vision and shooting prowess puts him head and shoulders above his peers. His ferocious deliveries from range were his secret weapon, with many goalkeepers dreading coming face to face with the deadly striker. 

What he lacked in pace, Max made up for as a deadly finisher in front of goal, and was equally phenomenal in aerial duels. The Will Smith-lookalike retired footie reflects on his time with multiple football giants in the domestic top-flight football league. 

Born Max van Wyk on 23 November in 1961 at the southern village town of Kalkrand, in the semi- desert Hardap region, the light-skinned goalpoacher started his primary school in his birthplace before he relocated to the city of bright lights (Windhoek) to further his education at the then Katutura High School, nowadays known as Immanuel Shifidi Senior Secondary School. 

Max matriculated with flying colours, and showed immense quality on the football pitch for the school’s first team. He was amongst the stars of the squad. One of the most outstanding memorable moments Bro Maxie recalls is the historic victory over the star-studded St Joseph’s High School (Döbra) and St Paul’s, in which he netted the winner in both encounters. 

He gained insight of the beautiful game whilst training with the now-defunct unfashionable Katutura outfit Swallows FC, where he found himself surrounded by very skillful footies such as the late dribbling wizard Piet Gowaseb and crowd favourite Squash Kapuka. Max was impressed by the manner in which the pair distributed the ball (passing). 

Although he never played an official game for Swallows, he managed to feature in a friendly for the green and black strip outfit. He gained enough confidence and experience, which he put to good use when he started playing competitive football with the fairly unknown Marocco Defenders, before jumping ship to join exciting Nau-Aib outfit Spoilers FC in the garden town of Okahandja. 

He was an instant hit with the club’s followers and teammates alike, playing some of his best football. His explosive form on the field caught the attention of club stalwart, former African Stars FC and South West Africa (SWA) tough-tackling overlapping fullback George Gariseb. 

The bearded fullback wasted little time in smooth-talking the young lethal net buster to join Starlile, and as they say, the rest is history. “I’m a great deal of gratitude indebted to uncle George because the move did not only improve my promising football career, it defined my entire live as an individual. Uncle G organised a decent job for me at the South West Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) as a music librarian”. 

In his own words, he had witnessed a great deal of highly gifted footies fall by the wayside, simply because of the temptations presented while idling ahead of practice sessions. 

Under the watchful eye of the great Oscar Mengo, the young protege was thrown right in the mix of things as Max walked straight into the Reds’ starting line up alongside a galaxy of established stars. 

He made his debut for Starlile against Young Ones and Hungry Lions in Okahandja, and most probably did enough to earn the respect from the club’s hierarchy. 

In only his debut season in topflight football, Max was selected for the Central Football Association (CFA) Invitational Eleven against the visiting Cape Town Spurs at the Windhoek Showgrounds. 

He announced his arrival at the big stage with a wonder goal against the South African professionals, though the hosts lost 2-1, after the visitors were awarded a highly-disputed spot-kick. 

As fate would have it, the free-scoring forward suffered a career-threatening injury in a league match against bitter rivals Tigers. Max was on fire on that particular day, tormenting the clearly out-of-sorts Ingwe’s rearguard at will, banging in goals like the art of goalscoring was going out of fashion - much to the chagrin of Tigers’ shot stopper George Ochurub. 

Trailing 6-1, Ochurub had enough and could no longer stomach further embarrassment as he went over the top with a vicious rugby-style tackle that left Max sprawling on the turf in grave pain, having suffered a badly damaged tibia and fibula. The unfortunate incident left the new kid on the block idled on the sidelines for a long period. 

Max was never the same lethal netbuster again upon his eagerly awaited slow recovery. Having lost his starting berth in the squad, it was time for a new challenge elsewhere, and Bro Max was obliged to find a new home with Black Africa, a club he idolised as a young lad, albeit scoring most goals against them during his blossoming but shortlived stint with Starlile. 

However, it was not a bed of roses as he struggled to replicate his usual goalscoring form. Failure to finish off several gilt-edged goalscoring opportunities against arch-rivals Orlando Pirates in an unusual occurrence signaled his short romance with his boyhood team. It proved to be a sad omen of his relationship, and as a result, Max was isolated and became a forgotten man. 

Nonetheless, he was not short of suitors as he found refuge with exciting youthful outfit Sorento Bucs, where he revitalised his career with breathtaking performances. He fashioned great displays against both Orlando Pirates and Tigers FC, in which he scored in both games, giving him the much-needed hunger and confidence, including a new drive for the game. 

Unfortunately, the trademark label of the “giantkillers” tag by the local media, probably rightfully so, inflicted the sad reality that there was no motivation to get to the top, but to remain there was the norm. 

However, Max was eager to win major titles and resolved to jump ship....only to resurface at Tigers FC, where he found himself in the good company of highly-talented young footies in the shape of the late trident of Alele Kapule, Bricks ‘Never say Die’ Angula and Teenage Iyambo, as well as the latter’s elder brother Lucky. 

“Eish... that boy (Teenage) was a maestro. He possessed a football brain second to none, complemented by amazing energy, vision, wizardry, drive and most of all unselfishness. 

Sadly, the football fraternity was robbed and rendered poorer by the untimely departure of the aforementioned players, and others not mentioned here”. 

In a cheeky parting shot, the former deadly forward expressed serious concerns over the current sorry state of affairs at NFA Football House. “Our football is too much occupied with self-interest rather than for the good of the game,” he said.

 The likable socialite is happily hitched to his lovely spouse Jennifer, who bore him a daughter, and currently holds the plum position of senior customs officer at the Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRA). 

2021-10-08  Carlos Kambaekwa

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