Growing up in the dusty streets of Katutura modest suburb Soweto, young Esther decided to participate in sporting activities to fend off bullying in the neighbourhood.
The tallish skinny darkish hide girl, whose shining white teeth can only be found in toothbrush advertisements, was not your ordinary cute child. She found happiness on the sport fields, where no one made her feel inferior.“We were all athletes striving for a common cause, especially as soul searching scholars determined to make our mark in the community where we hailed from.”Well, as it emerged, Esther went onto break barriers and is the exact epitome of perseverance, turning almost everything she has ever laid her hands on into gold. In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sport feature Tales of the Legends, profiling our national sport heroes and heroines, New Era Sport unleashes the astonishing journey of our golden girl, the multitalented Esther Ndahepuluka Sarasungu Mbathera.
WINDHOEK – A product of the Mandume Primary School and Namutoni Senior Primary School, respectively, Esther was generally an easygoing little shy girl who could hardly harm a fly and went about her daily routine just like any other little girl next door.
But it was not until she upgraded to the A. Shipena Secondary School that she started showing interest in sport, making netball her point of entry into the world of sport.
However, her flirtation with the ladies game was disrupted after few games in the school’s under-17 side. “I had a horrible crowd disturbance because of my tallish frame, everybody was shouting instructions that I should be doing “this” and “that” while on court…. very much to my annoyance.
“We were playing against Gorengab Junior Secondary School. So, I just had enough of the confusing instructions and simply walked off the court never to return.
Esther decided to try her hand at athletics and went onto excel in both the track and field events. Her height stood her in good stead and she was immediately posted to the high and long jump corner, but her joy was to be short-lived as she was again shifted to the track.
There was a short supply of athletes in the middle distance races and Esther was advised to try her luck in the 400-meter sprint.
In-house coach Usiel “Manager” Muundjua noticed something in the skinny girl and took her under his wing, taking her through the ropes alongside her childhood buddy Rauna Paulus. Esther rose to prominence during the inter-schools’ athletic meets and made her presence felt in both the 400 and 800-meter races.
It was not long before she started rubbing shoulders with the crème de la crème of local long distance runners competing against the likes of Elizabeth Mongudhi, Agnes Samaria, Klaudia Mbeeli and Charmaine Smith.
Esther would represent her school with distinction in the tough, demanding cross country races, and marathon relays during the school holidays. She teamed up with fellow students Wilika Shigwedha, Annette Katjihingua, Moses Maasdorp, Joseph Tjitunga, Benedictus Katjiuongua and Michael Endjala.
This bunch of youthful athletes became a great source of substantive assets for their school – winning lucrative prizes that included computers, flip charts and projectors for the school during the off season.
In the meantime, the multitalented sport crazy bird joined Welwitschias 77 Athletic Club under the tutelage of veteran mentors Oom Hannes von Holtz and Willy Greyling.
Upon completion of her high school studies, Esther became a volunteer at the National Youth Council (NYC) and was unable to keep up with the demands of athletics training and the busy schedule of competitive racing.
A a result, her blossoming athletic career went up in smoke but the gorgeous lass was not going to lay low. She switched her allegiance to the beautiful game of football and joined forces with newly formed Civics Ladies Football Club.
Gifted with amazing endurance and never say-die-attitude second to none, the ebony skin gorgeous bird quietly cemented herself as no nonsense right fullback – terrorizing the opposition with strong runs down the wing.
She was subsequently selected for the Khomas regional invitational eleven playing in several regional tournaments in a star-studded squad, spearheaded by Jacky Gertze, Jacqui Shipanga, Ndemu Hipondoka, Ruusa Nangula, Maria Kwedhi, Namtas Haubas, Maria “Maradona” Mushimba and many others.
In 2004, Esther enrolled at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in the mother city and played for the varsity’s women’s football team for two solid seasons. While pursuing her national diploma in journalism at CPUT, she got hooked to basketball and started rattling the hoops with campus outfit Penthers.
Next stop was Namibia’s harbour town where she found employment as a Communication Officer at the Walvis-Bay Municipality. Esther continued playing basketball for Kuisebmond outfit Desert Rollers Women’s Basketball team whilst managing the men’s side.
Two years later, she was back on the netball courts with the NamPower Netball team campaigning in the newly formed ESI Social League.
“I was employed as the Editorial Assistant at NamPower at the time and the company entered a team and since the majority of the squad members have never been on a netball court before – the company approached retired national senior team player Rebecca Goagoseb-Nekundi to take the girls through the ropes. And when she was not around I was tasked to step in as caretaker coach during the training sessions”.
Despite her busy schedule, Esther completed a level one Umpire course in netball and coached several government departmental teams on a voluntary basis including the Sanlam netball side.
In 2017, ambitious NPL outfit Tura Magic approached Esther to put a team together and today Tura Magic Netball Club competes in the competitive second tier of the Khomas Netball League.
An academic genius, Esther has in the meantime resurfaced in the mother city and currently reads towards a BTECH in Journalism at the CPUT in Cape Town, where she plays for Za’Khele Warriors Netball team campaigning in the popular Phoenix Financial Solutions Netball Social league.
She is also learning to do Yoga. “I’ve been massively inspired by my former teammate Jacqui Shipanga and retired USA Olympian Marion Jones. My involvement in sport has taught me the values of life because I realized that I’m not an Ireland living in isolation, as the world is way bigger than me.
“Besides teamwork, sport teaches us the importance of time management and sportsmanship, commitment and accountability. Sport is a universal language that’s not only limited to athletes, anyone can communicate irrespective of your political, religious background,” she concludes.
The married mother of two boasts an impressive sporting resume that includes the following accolades; Junior cross country champion 1996, winners of the annual Rossing Marathon relay 1994, Women’s relay team, Champions Sanlam relay marathon 1995. She is the incumbent deputy chairperson of the Khomas Netball Region.
2019-10-04 09:16:19 11 days ago