Death has struck again, with another retired footballer having taken a bow from the game of life.
Just as Namibia’s most successful football club, Black Africa, was about come to terms with the tragic death of Midfield General, Eliphas Heita, who was tragically killed in a horrific motor vehicle accident earlier this year, the club is mourning the sad passing of former flying winger, Mike Hans, affectionately known as “Mikey” in football circles.
The Gemengde outfit boasts a stinking rich history in domestic knockout cup competitions, stretching way back to the days of the much despised South West Africa (SWA) apartheid regime.
Though a significant number of generations would come up with their own claim to greatness, the Albert Louw inspired line up of 1974 was a marvel to watch, and without an iota of doubt, the finest and most complete squad assembled by the team.
Like in many other sporting disciplines, one will always find few individuals possessing that rare “Midas Touch” to take the game by the scruff of the neck, winning matches single handedly – and of such athlete was strongly built winger, going by the name of Mike Hans. Surrounded by a galaxy of stars in the mould of Pius Eigowab, Louw and cool as a cucumber, centre back Gabes Dausab, Mikey was your typical old fashioned one route winger.
In today’s edition, New Era Sport reflects on the football journey of this unheralded icon, Michael “Mikey” Hans
Carlos “CK” Kambaekwa
WINDHOEK - Born in Windhoek’s Old Location in 1952, Mikey relocated to Dobra aged 4 when his mother, Clara, a hostel matron was transferred to the St. Joseph’s Catholic School in the north-east of Windhoek in 1957.
Young Mikey was hardly out of his nappies when he started chasing leather on the dusty playing fields of Dobra, alongside other boys his age.
“I played for a school team, Sorento Bucs, alongside Hassie Mingeri, my elder brother – John, Kariri Katire, Oscar Mengo, and Stouter Ochurub. We usually competed against other hostel teams such as Eusebib Eleven and Indian Pirates,” said Mike during an interview with New Era Sport in 2009.
In 1965, Mikey started to cut his teeth in the school’s 3rd team with former Chief Santos sharp shooter, Celle Auchumeb, Linus Garoeb, and the late pair of Gabes Dausab and Stroh Somseb, but was soon deservedly promoted to the school’s first team.
“I was actually very lucky because regular left winger, Ambrossius Makarias, was badly injured, which resulted in me being hastily drafted in to replace him. Well, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and made the number 11 jersey my own property until I left Dobra,” recalled Mikey.
Some of his celebrated were: Bernard Muifi, Hassie Mingeri, and elder brothers: Willem and John Hans. The strongly built, speedy winger tasted success in his first attempt with the school’s football team when the star studded Dobra FC won a knockout cup tourney in Okahandja at the expense of the now defunct Pirates (Dolam) in the final. Mikey announced his arrival on the big stage with a goal in the 3-0 hammering of the robust gold and black strip outfit.
He would go onto enjoy great success with Dobra on the playing field – and by the time he left school, he was the most sought-after footballer in the domestic setup. So, it came as no surprise when ambitious OD outfit Flames came knocking on the door for his signature.
“Flames had an ambitious leadership, which had assembled the finest footballers in the business at the time. The squad looked unbeatable on paper, but things started to fall apart on the playing field – with results very hard to come by,” revealed Mikey.
“We had some great athletes led by Oscar Mengo, Kariirii, Asser Mbai, Albert Louw, Andehe Haimbodi, Hassie Mingeri, George Kasuto, Brown Amwenye and Kauru Bullower. The squad was capable of challenging the best on offer but things did just not work out,” Mikey narrated.
The last straw on the camel’s back was when the team visited Keetmanshoop for the annual Joko Tea Cup and got thrashed 4-0 by an unknown local team in the opening match, resulting in a hastened exodus of a sizeable number of the team’s playing personnel.
“I joined Black Africa, and immediately settled down with the team’s style of play; I was quite familiar with most of the players because they were my former teammates at Dobra,” stated Mikey.
Mikey spearheaded Black Africa to the final of the maiden edition of the historic Daves Furnishers Knock-out Cup against bitter rivals African Stars at a packed to rafters Katutura Stadium in 1974.
“Sadly, we lost that final 3-2, having taken a 2-1 lead at the break but I’m still convinced we could have easily waltzed past Stars had we played with the team that have trained together the week prior to the tournament,” regretted Mikey.
“What actually transpired is that management flew in the Kaizer Chief’s pair of Pele Blaschke and Pius Egowab, but the decision costed us dearly, as Eigowab had become bog headed and would not run into open spaces. He was expecting to be spoon-fed; I strongly felt his bossy attitude led to our demise,” narrated Mikey.
It was the first time in the history of domestic football that teams played for a cash prize of N$ 1,000 in any cup competition.
“We were technically superior to Stars, but they played as a unit. Our opponents were disciplined and determined, with Mengo pulling the strings in the middle of the park, whilst they also had a strong rear-guard – masterfully manned by no nonsense defender, Kirrie Tjituaiza, and young Dobra student, Albert Tjihero,” Mikey recalled.
Mikey would go on to oversee the transformation of BA when the old guard of Spokes Tibinyane started to phase out of the equation.
He was to gradually mentor youngsters such as Mombakkies Eiseb, Alakacz Kurivera, Corrie Uri-Khob, Safe Kuruseb, Stu Damaseb, and many others.
“We had a good team, and won several tourneys in Walvis Bay and all other parts of the country. I must admit I always enjoyed our telepathic combination with my brother John, who played on the opposite flank, which was not enough; I would often find myself playing alongside all my brothers: Willem, Arnold and John in the same team”.
However, the departed father of six children did not have any regrets over his involvement with the spherical object, saying football has taken him to other corners of the country, meeting people from all walks of life.
“I’m very happy that God blessed me with the talent to play football at the highest level, since I was able to rub shoulders with the finest athletes of my generation. Our motto was all about winning and not for personal glory, simply because there was no incentives for the number of goals scored in a season or a particular tourney – a practice that makes modern footballers greedy,” Mikey ascertained.
Mikey praised former teammate, Albert Louw, as the most complete footballer of his generation: “Louw had vision second to none, and he was a great passer of the ball – an absolute phenomenal athlete, but my favourite footballer has to be the late Kaputji Kuhanga.”
In his own words, retired Tigers’ tough as steak defender, Elliot “Oom Pau” Hiskia, used to give him nightmares on the playing field: “He was a very tricky customer to deal with; I always struggled to negotiate my way past him during our countless battles.”
Mikey, who played most of his football in white tekkies, usually purchased from Bata Shoes, also tested international football when he was selected to play against the visiting Kaizer Eleven in 1969.
“It’s not that I preferred tekkies over genuine togs; tekkies were the cheapest pair of football boots, so I got stuck to playing in tekkies, but I even exchanged them for white boots in later years,” Mike clarified.
His flourishing football career was ended by a brutal training ground tackle by none other than his old friend, the late John van Wyk.
Upon recovery, Mikey played briefly for ambitious Gemengde outfit, Eastern Jumpers FC, but the groin injury kept cropping up – obliging him to call it quits.
Sadly, the likeable soft spoken winger blew his last breath on motherly earth on the 5th of December 2018 at the Katutura Hospital. He leaves behind two brothers, a pair of sisters-in-law, and six children. Mikey will be laid to rest at the Pionierspark Cemetery tomorrow morning, with the burial service starting at 06h00 at his home. A memorial service will be held at the Holly Redeemer Church in Katutura this evening at 19h00.
2018-12-14 12:50:52 8 months ago