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On the boardwalk with coastal football great Daniel ‘Slugger’ Imbili

2023-04-14  Carlos Kambaekwa

On the boardwalk with coastal football great Daniel ‘Slugger’ Imbili

The harbour town of Walvis Bay is known for its amazing cool weather oozing from the freezing Atlantic Ocean, but the sea hub is also home to many prominent personalities in different fields. 

Tellingly, Walvis Bay was home to one of the most popular pop music bands during the height of apartheid – Children from Pluto (CFP). The town is also home to top football teams in the following sequence: Blue Waters, Namib Woestyn, Sparta United, Explorer Eleven, Atlantis, and Eleven Arrows. 

Additionally, a fairly-decent number of high-profile politicians, top athletes, and astute entrepreneurs also emerged from that neck of the woods. 

Admittedly, Walvis Bay has unearthed men and women of remarkable pedigree, and those that spring to mind are Ben Amadhila, Jerry Ekandjo, Rauthenan Imbili Martin, Charles Kauraisa, Ambassador Wilfred Emvula, Rikumbi Kandanga, Macy Suzo-Madisia, Harry Simon, Aune Lucas, Knowledge Katti, Lukas Hipondoka, Bob Tangeni, Titus Imbili, and Oscar Norich-Tjahuha. Well, lest we forget, the outspoken fearless political icon; always never shy to roll with the punches at any given time, be it in the comfort of the August House chambers or anywhere whenever the subject of racial injustice was raised – the one and only Nathaniel Maxuilili. However, the name of another high-profile local socialite, now retired footy, community activist, unionist, and former football coach, one Daniel ‘Slugger’ Imbili, a Jack of all trades, always springs to mind when Walvis Bay is casually mentioned.  New Era Sport caught up with the former CFP band ‘roadie’, and the Augustineum protege took us through his amazingly well-travelled life journey in full detail.  


The author came to know Imbili up close during our countless escapades in Walvis Bay back in the day for our live music performances with the Baronages pop band. Always immaculately attired, the strongly-built afro-haired tallish dude was the designated go-to man in Kuisebmond. 

He unselfishly took us under his wing, and always entertained band members at his house opposite James Brown Cafe, with a delicious diet of hard rock music, blurring from his trusted old-fashioned gramophone. His massive collection of Long Play (LPs) vinyl records was something out of this world.

An unquenchable music fanatic, the cool-as-a-cucumber hippy-look-alike socialite was a trusted ‘roadie’ (none playing band member) of the legendary Children from Pluto (CFP) pop ensemble. 

Nonetheless, like many other young boys his age, the multi-talented boy from Kalkfeld got hooked on chasing an inflated piece of pigskin (football). Imbili started playing competitive football for youthful Kuisebmund outfit Rickets, whilst hardly out of his pair of shorts. 

He finally got his big break when a sizeable number of Blue Waters’ core players, marshalled by the fast-as-lightning winger Tommy Uushona, Gabes ‘Flying Fish’ Mupupa, Simon ‘Ou Spook’ Lameck, Heinrich Horongo Haufiku, and few others, defected to manufacture the birth of Eleven Arrows, leaving the Birds with a gravely-depleted squad, almost at the cusp of collapsing. 

Imbili was amongst a few talented youngsters, hastily assembled to co-pilot the Birds’ sinking ship out of stormy waters, alongside the equally-highly and highly-gifted pair of Bernard Da Costa Philemon and Jerry Shikongo, amongst others. 

The unavoidable arrival of the youngsters ignited the Birds into a formidable force to be reckoned with in the domestic knockout cup tourneys. 

The versatile speedy winger constantly brutalised the white chalk on the right flank touchline and was a lethal net rattler before being shifted to the middle of the park, a position he held with great aplomb until he was converted to the right fullback portfolio, earning the admiration of his teammates to the extent that he was baptised ‘Roadblock’ for his uncompromising steady defensive capabilities.  

He became a regular starter for the Birds’ first team at the dawn of mixed-race football in apartheid South West Africa (SWA) in 1977. In the meantime, Imbili often featured for the purple and white strip Orwetoveni outfit Life Fighters in the hotly-contested open knockout cup tourneys in Otjiwarongo. 

“ you may recall, there were no restrictions, let alone registration regarding the movement of players. Anyone could freely play for any team of their preferred choice at any given time. One could easily travel to Tsumeb, Otjiwarongo, or any other town and play football without any hindrance. I also played for both Nomtsoub outfits Hungry Lions and Benfica in Tsumeb,” recalled Imbili. 

He played an instrumental role in luring the Life Fighters’ pair of devastating wingers Immanuel Kamuserandu and Kaputji Kuhanga to the Birds’ nest. Having won almost all available silverware there was to be won, Imbili retired from playing competitive football and turned his hand to coaching.

He was at the helm when the Birds narrowly lost to long-time ally African Stars (1-0) in the final of the lucrative Mainstay Cup at the Windhoek stadium through Oscar Mengo’s Diego Maradona mimicked ‘Hand of God’ headed goal in 1984, the same year he masterminded the Birds to victory in the annual Isaac Kahatjipara Floating Trophy. 

Imbili commanded the Birds to their first league title triumph in the newly-formed breakaway Namibia Soccer Super League (NNSL) title race in 1987, in addition to the Werner Dupene Cup.

The retired fullback was in the dugout when the Birds finished runners-up to local bitter rivals Eleven Arrows in an electrifying live televised final of the JPS knockout trophy at the packed-to-the-rafters Kuisebmond stadium in 1988.  

When Namibia celebrated her long-awaited inevitable independence from the illegal occupation of South Africa in 1990, Imbili was duly appointed as co-coach alongside fellow seasider Johannes ‘Storm’ Gom-gaiseb, mentoring the star-studded Western Invitational Eleven against the visiting Russian giants Spartak Moscow in Swakopmund. The hosts went down 4-6 in the 10-goal thriller. 

Apart from football, Imbili is a dedicated community activist and salted trade unionist. He currently occupies the plum portfolio of the president of the Namibia Fishing Industries and Fishermen Workers Union, a position he held with a great measure of aplomb since 1997. 

The likeable big-frame socialite serves on the Blue Waters Sports Club Elders Council. He is an elder in the Hosianna Parish of ELCRN and chairman of the Etegameno Men’s League Choir, amongst dozens of his voluntary engagements in community projects. 

Dear readers and fellow Namibians, before I sign off, my humble appeal, let us do away with this nasty habit of always praising people when they are no longer with us, paying little attention if any, to their remarkable achievements and immense contribution towards the importance of nation building while they are still breathing fresh air. 

Let us pay dignified tributes and acknowledge the good deeds of our heroes and heroines while they are still with us in blood and flesh. 

Imbili, I’m damn sure you will scorn to own me in a lie if I conclude tongue in cheek, but I’m sure you will be comforted to have at least read and reflected on your incredible life story before transitioning to eternity. Enjoy it, brother! 

2023-04-14  Carlos Kambaekwa

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