• May 23rd, 2019
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Remembering BA’s man of steel, John van Wyk 1953 – 2001

The dominant view amongst ardent football followers is those athletes of Damara descendants have been at the forefront of producing the greatest footballers gracing our football pitches over the years.

However, statistics shows that there’s a particular certain tribe that has gone unnoticed in making her presence felt in the annals of domestic football.

They are known as “Ovimbundu” and history has it that this relatively pocket size tribe originally hailed from the Southern part of Angola.

A calculated mild-mannered community, the Ovimbundu tribe has kept a close-knit link amongst themselves, notably in towns such as Otjiwarongo, Outjo, Okahandja, Rundu, Gobabis, Tsumeb, Omaruru, Walvis-Bay and Windhoek.
It’s a well-documented secret that two of the most recognisable football clubs campaigning in the country’s topflight football league, Black Africa and Eleven Arrows have close links with this unique tribe.

In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sports feature, Tales of the Legends, profiling our heroes past and present, New Era Sport takes you our esteemed reader through the untold football journey of Black Africa FC hard as nails fullback, the late John van Wyk.



WINDHOEK – Whilst it’s commonly argued that coastal outfit Eleven Arrows and Black Africa football clubs are the only football entities that were not established along tribal lines – closer inspection reveals a slight tribal connotation within these two great football institutions.

Eleven Arrows came into life when a number of great athletes representing the Western Invitational Eleven in an exhibition match against the star-studded Wherrick Zimmer-Goraseb’s led Central Eleven in that historic match, resolved to stay put leading to the unavoidable birth of Eleven Arrows and Katutura outfit Explorer Eleven “Ovispoele”. 

The contest was initiated by lanky South African migrant social worker Robert Matlabo, whom many praise for changing the face of domestic football as he was also at the forefront organising the historic marathon tour down under to South Africa with the star studded Bantu Invitational Eleven in 1968. 

Black Africa was called into the life by South African migrant workers of Batswana descent, who hailed from the North-West part of South Africa. As fate would dictate, these two clubs would unintentionally found themselves with a strong representation of Ovimbundus amongst their respective playing personnel. 
The football obsessed Samaria siblings made Arrows part of their daily diet to an extent that people would not talk about Arrows without mentioning the Samarias. 

Elder brother Freek led the Samaria revolution followed by younger brothers Bossie, Killer, Connie, Temu and in later years Bossie’s elder son Bobby as well as cool as a cucumber defender Herman “Blue” Karimbue, giant goalie uncle Ben Tembo and Brave Warriors agile shot stopper Ronnie Kanalelo.
In the meantime, other Ovimbundus would also silently made their presence felt at Katutura giants Black Africa in the city of bright lights. 

The likes of George Martin, Anton “Alacatz” Kurivera, Fighter Louis, Kandas Paulino, Vossie van Wyk, Ghenno Himarwa, Hassie Mingeri, Zambia Motola, “Captain Fantastic” Pierre Janeiro, Carpio Kauendji, John van Wyk and in the intervening years, the football obsessed Louis cousins Andy, Jerome and Lorenzo “Jingly” would follow suit. 

As this was not enough, Orlando Pirates had Frans Kazimbu while departed center back Salathiel Ndjao represented the football obsessed Ovimbundus at coastal giants Blue Waters, and lest we forget, Hungry Lions adorable football playing center back, the late Manuel Mendos and Blue Waters FC burly defender Freddy Bratha. 

The late Gerard Louis was also a formidable midfielder for the now defunct Nau-Aib (Okahandja) outfit Black Beauty Chiefs (BBC) in the 70’s.  The list goes on and one cannot fail to notice the presence of muscular fullback Alois Kazimbu and younger brother Patrick at exciting Outjo outfit Golden Bees, Ectos Kandundu (Rangers & SWA) Tete Kangameni (Namib Woestyn & SWA) and tough as steak defender Bigman Schultz (BA).  

Other notable Ovimbundu footballers were; Joseph Witru, the football crazy Kanandura siblings Raphael, Supply (Rastaman) and younger brother, the late Bennet.
 Despite their valuable contribution towards the growth of domestic football and in other social activities where internationally acclaimed middle distance sprinter Agnes Samaria, hoisted the Namibia flag – the Ovimbundus have gone quietly about their business. 

Interestingly, though they would sporadically converse in the indigenous lingo of their ancestors, Tjimbundu, this unique clan mostly communicates in their adopted Otjiherero language.
“I can’t really explain as to why most Ovimbundus prefer to speak the Otjiherero vernacular but it probably boils down to the fact that Otjiherero is the easiest indigenous local language to muster,” says retired Black Africa FC toe-poking center forward Kandas Paulino.

The now defunct Otjiwarongo based outfit Silent Killers FC had a strong Ovimbudu representation amongst their playing personnel. As has become traditionally practice, it was obvious that the baby faced John van Wyk, would join ranks with Katutura giants Black Africa where he was to form a solid combination in the team’s rearguard alongside Stu Damaseb, Corrie Uri-Khob, Vossie van Wyk and close buddy Anton “Alacataz” Kurivera.
Unlike many of his peers who were recruited from Dobra, John was a homemade product from within the Gemengde enclave. 

Like his close buddies Alacatz Kurivera and Moms Eiseb, John started out in the reserve team before graduating to BA’s first team within a short period following his impressive performance in the Gemengde outfit’s second strings.
His arrival at BA coincided with that of a new generation of exciting young footballers, succeeding departed stalwarts Gabes Dausab, Hubert Mootseng, Willy Katire and the ageing pair of Spokes Tibinyane and Albert Louw, as the club went into a complete squad overhaul.

 John will go down in history as a valuable squad member of the all-conquering Black Africa devastating side that went on a marathon unbeaten run in domestic cup competitions to be ultimately dubbed the “Cup Kings”.
The soft spoken tough tackling fullback was an ever present figure in the BA rearguard and was a member of the BA sides that won back to back Mainstay Cup finals against Chelsea in 1982/83 respectively.

As it turned out, the author had several nasty on the field confrontations with the hard as nails fullback and is well placed to describe his bone crunching tackles as he fell victim to bro John’s bitter medicine.

I vividly remember that fateful night at the chilly SKW stadium during a knockout cup match between Black Africa and Hungry Lions. I was playing on the right wing and was giving John all sorts of problems on that particular night. 
Well, bro John did not take kindly to that and resolved to take me completely out. Firstly, he brought me heavily sent me down to mother gravity via a brutal rugby tackle that would have left Jan Ellis green with envy and worse still, he unconsciously stepped on my head while sprawling on the turf in great pain and agony.

Nevertheless, we were great buddies off the field, as he would always gently whispers in my ear that the game of football was not for softies. That was bro John for you!!. Sadly, bro John took a bow from the game of life in 2001 aged 49. May his soul rest in eternal peace in one piece. 

Carlos Kambaekwa
2018-09-21 10:14:09 8 months ago

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