One of Namibia’s oldest recreational entities Ramblers Football Club is famously known as an English institution, rivaling the predominantly German outfit Sport Klub Windhoek (SKW) aka “Immer Wieder”.
Contrary to the misplaced belief that the Tunschell Street Boys were a shelter for the more streetwise English speaking footballers – the exciting Pionierspark outfit had indeed a good mixture of “Jerries” including a significant number of highly gifted footballers from the football crazy Portuguese community in the mix of things.
Spearheaded by astute football administrator-cum-uncompromising-businessman, one Manuel Coelho, it only made sense that Ramblers would have a strong Portuguese contingent on board.
Serial volatile playmaker Jaian Laranja, burly striker Mario Rodriques, Alvaro Amorin, Jorge and Nelson da Purificacao, Carreira siblings Jose and Mario, the trident of Viljoen brothers Jose, Gino and Daniel, Alan and Barry Gonsalves, Paulo and Antonio “Plugz” Noquiera de Azevedo as well as incumbent MTC Premiership giant killers Julinho Sporting’s honcho Nelson Louis, formed the large army of Portuguese invasion at Ramblers.
With some of the old guard getting a bit long in the tooth, the club was eager to find suitable successors and resolved to casts their eyes in the direction of students from the English speaking Centaurus High School across town.
Amongst the new arrivals were a young skillful attacking midfielder, going by the name of Paulo Martins. The latter was your typical Portuguese never-give-up mentality footballer, blessed with amazing ball skills and great balance, complimented by a sharp eye for the decisive killer pass.
Let us hear from the horses’ mouth, New Era Sport goes toe-to-toe with the now retired soft spoken midfield general-cum-successful businessman Paulo Martins, as he relives his long and winding football journey.
Carlos “CK” Kambaekwa
TSUMEB – Born Paulo Martins on the 29th of April 1967 in the remotely coastal town of Cabinda in Northern Angola, young Paulo relocated to South West Africa (SWA) as a toddler barely out of his nappies with his parents – only to resurface in the Copper Town of Tsumeb.
Just like many other boys his age at the time, Paulo got hooked to the beautiful game of football and would chase the inflated pigskin whenever time permitted.
However, it was not until he arrived in the city of bright lights (Windhoek) to further his schooling at the revered Centaurus High School that the young Portuguese lad started to show signs of a great athlete.
Unlike many white schools where the oval ball game of rugby reigned supreme – the predominantly English speaking learners at Centaurus High School would have none of that and would rather chase the spherical object.
A highly gifted midfielder, blessed with unbelievable deft touches on the ball, young Paulo announced his arrival in organized football structures with breathtaking performances week in and week out for the star studded Centaurus High School Football side.
Interestingly, Paulo skippered Centaurus High School to a historic victory in the annual Hydroweld Schools Under-16 Cup in Walvis-Bay.
The flamboyant “boytjies” from the city of bright lights dispatched pre-tournament favourites St Joseph Secondary School (Dobra) in an electrifying final to earn the bragging rights in the Central region.
It was not long before talent scouts from the national youth football teams started to keep a close eye on the enterprising young Portuguese’s amazing talent.
Paulo was subsequently called up to the South West Africa (SWA) multiracial Under 19 Invitational Eleven that toured neighbouring, Cape Town, South Africa for several exhibition matches against Western Province and other local clubs around the mother city.
Amongst his celebrated teammates in the touring squad were; Bobby Samaria, Eric Quest, Nelson Louis, Ralf Beiter, Frans “Foresta” Nicodemus and Paulo “Naggy” Noquiera de Azevedo.
By the time Ramblers won the coveted annual Mainstay Cup in 1985 - defeating Chief Santos by four unanswered goals (4-0) in the final at the old Katutura stadium, a sizable number of the club’s stalwarts including inspirational skipper Bobby Craddock, neared the twilight of their football careers a new dawn was beckoning for the ambitious Pionierspark outfit.
The blue and white strip Rammies went on an aggressive recruitment drive, which culminated in the unavoidable formation of the predominantly whites Amateur Soccer Association (ASA) in 1987.
A significant number of young Portuguese speaking footballers joined forces with Ramblers and though many of them started out in the team’s second strings – it was not long before the attacking midfielder drew the attention of the team’s wide awake technical staff.
After few near faultless displays with Rammies’ second strings – the tireless midfielder was deservedly elevated to the first team. Ironically, Paulo made his senior debut in topflight football against Portuguese outfit Maritimo FC in Walvis-Bay.
Partnering club captain, the skillful Alan Gonsalves, the exciting young attacking midfielder slotted in like a glove in hand in the Rammies’ engine room alongside stalwarts Richard Wahl and fellow scholar, Paulo Noquiera de Azevedo and as they say, the rest is history.
Paulo was to play an instrumental role when Ramblers saw off bitter rivals SKW in a hotly contested final of the annual popular Stoetzel Pokal at the SKW stadium in 1989.
Despite the odds staked against them, Rammies triumphed during the nail biting dreaded penalty shootout after a 1-all stalemate – sending the star studded “Jerries” packing.
“Immer Wieder” were clear favourites to clinch the trophy with beanpole center back Thomas Wollendorf and giant Danish shot stopper Kenneth Larsen, between the posts forming the spine of their intimidating lineup.
History reveals that Ramblers is a great deal indebted to the individual brilliance of former African Stars FC ball juggler Alfred Juku Tjazuko.
The Tunschell Street Boys club surprised friend and foe when they gallantly cruised through marathon play off matches in Swakopmund to earn a well-deserved place in the newly formed National Football Super League upon Namibia’s democracy in 1990.
Nonetheless, the unheralded hero of Rammies heroics was none other than the zig-zagging number ten (Paulo Martins) whose defense splitting passes played a magnificent role - paving the way for the Pionierspark outfit to carve a place in the play-offs.
As fate would dictate, the youthful playmaker left his adopted land (SWA) for Cape Town, South Africa to further his academic aspirations at the revered Cape Technikon.
Upon his arrival in the mother city, Paulo joined forces with semi-professional Portuguese outfit Vasco da Gama FC and was reunited with fellow countryman, retired Brave Warriors inspirational skipper Sandro de Gouveia.
After a successful four year stint with Vasco Da Gama, Paulo retreated to his adopted native land (Namibia) and rejoined reigning Namibian champions Ramblers in 1993. Unfortunately, his flourishing football career was abruptly abbreviated by a career ending knee injury sustained during a high profile Premier League encounter against Outjo based Golden Bees Football Club.
A staunch supporter of English Premiership (EPL) giants Chelsea FC, the now retired much adored midfield general, nowadays lives in his hometown Tsumeb where he runs the family business empire Trek Transport and Copper Guests House alongside brothers Arnaldo-Jose and Ricardo Martins.
2019-05-17 11:04:46 4 days ago