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Orlando Pirates: The untold story of its establishment legends talk intellectual property rights

2022-08-12  Carlos Kambaekwa

Orlando Pirates: The untold story of its establishment legends talk intellectual property rights

Two of the surviving founders of local giants Orlando Pirates Football Club are crying foul over what they term “infringement” on their intellectual property rights.

The agitated pair of Ishmael ‘Lemmy Special’ Narib and Hans Eichab feel strongly short-changed by those currently in charge of the club they established way back in 1963. Narib and Eichab teamed up with the late Erkie Claasen to call the Katutura-based outfit to life as a non-profit recreational entity. 

Truth be told and without an iota of doubt, Orlando Pirates FC boasts a stinking-rich history and ranks amongst the biggest crowd-pullers, and arguably is the second-best supported football entity in the country’s top-flight league behind fellow Katutura giants African Stars.

Upon retirement from playing competitive football, both Narib and Eichab continued to follow and monitor the team’s progress closely, whilst the football-crazy Narib would also weigh in as auxiliary coach on numerous occasions. 

Narib was the designated ‘Poster Boy’ of Pirates, serving the club with distinction over an extended period way into his mid-40s. 

In their own words, the pair formed the club after severing ties with Katutura outfit Try Again. The young boys, then residents of Katutura township and hardly out of their pair of shorts, doubled as newspaper vendors after school to supplement their meagre pocket money. 

The plan to break away from Try Again and form a new team was hatched by the quartet of Narib, Eichab, Claasen and former Tigers bulky defender – the now- departed Elliot ‘Oom Paul’ Hiskia, who also served as SWAFA and NFA president at different intervals.

According to the surviving pair, the name Orlando Pirates was proposed by Claasen and Harald Sam, who were students in South Africa at the time.

The comfortably well-read pair drafted a letter to the authentic Orlando Pirates in South Africa, asking for permission to use the name, including the adoption of the same jersey colours. The request was successful, but it was clearly stated in the affirmation that the newly-formed Namibian Pirates should refrain from using the inscribed skull and cross bones emblem on their badge (logo).

“We managed to assemble a very good squad, made up of talented youngsters with an average age of 18, and purchased our first set of playing gear for R60 from profits accumulated through the sales of newspapers. We played our first official match against the star-studded Explorer Eleven (Katutura) at the old Katutura stadium. 

“And although we lost 3-2 in a closely-contested high-tempo encounter, we certainly gave a good account of ourselves. Explorer had basically all the best players in its armoury combined from Katutura and Khomasdal. Very few teams could match them pound for pound in the domestic football set-up,” narrates the amazingly ageless Narib with a twinkle in his eyes.

Soon afterwards, the youthful Pirates outfit attracted the crème de la crème of highly-gifted ballers from Nama location, spearheaded by devastating wingers Daniel Koopman and Willem Eichab, ably assisted by the attacking flair of fellow forwards Gustav Bassieman Jimmy-Naruseb and Michael ‘Ou Pine’ Pienaar Sr. Now add the free-scoring Narib to that line-up, and you have a complete package.

Pirates were a dominant force in domestic football, and were perfectly baptized ‘The Invincible Ghosts’ in the early 70s, winning almost every available piece of silverware there was to be won. However, with time calling on the golden generation, highly-talented youngsters were roped in from the south, led by the nimble-footed playmaker Norries Goraseb, versatile defender Alu Hummel and speedy winger Killer Kamberipa. 

The inevitable acquisition of the great Doc Hardley put the cherry on top of the cake, under the stewardship of ‘Captain Fantastic’ Steve ‘Mr Reliable’ Stephanus. Pirates won back-to-back Mainstay Cup finals against bitter rivals Black Africa through young Erich Muinjo’s late strike (1-0) at a packed-to-the-rafters Katutura stadium in 1978. 

The smooth-sailing Buccaneers ship successfully defended the title, dispatching cross-town rivals Sport Klub Windhoek (SKW) 5-3 after extra-time following a 3-all stalemate at the then Windhoek stadium (Independence stadium). 

Regrettably or rather shockingly, Pirates were denied a well-deserved victory on the green table after officials of the white-dominated SWAFA executive resolved to declare SKW the winners as a result of Pirates’ apparent late arrival for the scheduled kick-off. 

For some unexplained reason, Pirates were late by 45 minutes. Nevertheless, this puke-inducing decision, which turned out more politically-motivated than a sporting one, did not go well down the throats of the clearly disappointed Pirates’ team. 

The entire playing personnel and technical staff dug their heels in the sand, point-blankly declining to accept their “doctored” silver medals.

Narib boasts an impressive football resume, and was amongst the very first local footballers to sign a professional contract beyond the borders of his native Land of the Brave with Soweto giants Kaizer Eleven, alongside compatriot Hermann ‘Pele’ Blaschke in 1969. 

The players were snapped up after tormenting the visiting South Africans in a pair of exhibition matches for the Central Invitational Eleven at the old Katutura stadium. Nicknamed ‘Lemmy’ after the South African pennywhistle blower Lemmy Special Mabaso from Springs, Narib will go down in history as one of the most outstanding netbusters of all time.   

All said and done, the surviving pair of Narib and Eichab are having a bone to pick with the current leadership of the club. They both feel strongly short-changed, cold-shouldered and systematically isolated from their treasured asset. 

“It all started when we approached incumbent club chairman Axab Gowaseb to assist the team financially because running a football club nowadays is an expensive exercise. “Luister nou mooi my laaitie”, (listen carefully my boy)...the game has evolved in the modern era. Football is serious business of late, and as legitimate rightful founders of Orlando Pirates, it’s our conviction that we should be at least entitled to some sort of sufficient compensation and recognition in return for our intellectual property rights,” insists the former speedy forward. 

Now, the fundamental question that needs to be addressed is: should all founder members of public/community institutions be compensated in one way or the other? 

“It’s common knowledge that they are indeed founder members of the club, but it should also be taken into consideration that they did not sustain the team financially. Where do we draw the line between ownership, founder members and the community in general?” asked Pirates’ current CEO Nicky Kisilipile.

He added: “There are structures in any credible institution, but some people appear to have a different interpretation of ownership”.

Kisilipile further appealed to club legends to follow the correct channels and procedures if they want to use or play under the Pirates brand, be it socially or engaging in exhibition matches. 

On a parting note, he said management is looking at suitable ways to find common ground with the aggrieved founder members, and remains hopeful and confident that the parties will bring closure to this potentially unpleasant episode in the best interest of the club and all other stakeholders.

2022-08-12  Carlos Kambaekwa

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