RIP Raonga Kaumbangere 1946 - 2018 Gentle giant has fallen – Kaende Naua “Rhoo”
Slightly over a fortnight, New Era Sports paid tribute to one of many unheralded football heroes in history, former African Stars Football Club bustling forward, Rhoo Mabeva-Kaumbangere, but little did we know this was in fact the last time we would see him alive again.
Sadly, the big frame striker has taken a bow from the game of life aged 69, just over a month before celebrating his 70th birthday.
Rhoo, who has retreated to communal farming after retiring from competitive football in the mid 70’s has been battling a combination of illness ranging from diabetes and high blood pressure.
He eventually succumbed to illness last week on Tuesday at the Katutura State Hospital and will be laid to rest at his home village Bolens, in the Otjombinde Constituency, Omaheke Region tomorrow morning.
He now joins former teammates Usiel Tjijenda, Theo Hohova Ndisiro, Floyd Maharero, George Hoveka, Tjatjitua Katjieteo, Scage Kandjirionuini, Phillip and Maihi Hei, Alex Vekarapi, Chopa Kauazunda, Petrus Mazenge, Tumbee Tjombe, Ruhoonjo Pack and Epson Kapuire in eternity. May their soul rest in peace.
WINDHOEK - Without an iota of doubt, departed African Stars net buster Rhoo Kaumbangere, was one of the greatest footballers of his generation and can be easily spoken of in the same breath as Orlando Pirates goal ace, his great buddy Lemmy Narib, Gabes Mupupa, Zika Williams aka “Okambua Kombandi”Timo Mwetuyela, Honnie Ochurub and Wherrick Zimmer-Goroseb.
New Era Sport had the opportunity to talk to the retired lethal marksman before his untimely death, as he entertained us with tales of those thrilling days when footballers would play the game out of sheer passion showing astonishing affection towards the spherical object, back in the day.
Should a book ever be written about the genuine history of domestic football, the name of Raonga Kaumbangere is likely to feature prominently.
When at his peak, the big frame centre forward had very few peers if any in the business as he would bamboozle robust defenders with brutal strength, speed and great finishing in front of the goalposts.
Rhoo was an invaluable member of Starlile’s second generation and despite playing in a squad loaded with fairly average footballers, worsened by a serial leaky defence – he stood head and shoulders above the rest.
The lethal goal poacher almost single handedly spearheaded the Reds’ firing line alongside Obed Kamburona, Theo “Slow Poison” Ndisiro, Skade Kandjiriomuini, George Hoveka and the versatile Floyd Maharero.
Back in the day, Katutura glamour football club African Stars FC was constantly made to live in the shadow of their more celebrated and star-studded rivals Tigers and Orlando Pirates and in later years, Black Africa.
Nonetheless, it was not until the dawn of the early 70’s that the football landscape would change for the better with the unavoidable arrival of a vibrant youthful squad, marshaled by a young bulky defensive midfielder, one Kaika Kuzee.
Born Raonga Kaumbangere in the village of Otjiue Tjombungu in the vastly populated Omaheke Region on the 29th of November 1946 – Rhoo arrived in the city of bright lights (Windhoek) at a tender age and started his schooling at the revered St Barnabas learning institution in Windhoek’s old location.
It was at St Barnabas that he would meet boyhood buddies Kapundi Hei, Mike Pack, Scage Kandjiromuini, Adolph Maheu Kahere, Rick Kukuri, Coskey Ngaizuvare, Karihurona Makono, Obed Kamburona and George Hoveka.
“Back in the day, recreational facilities were virtually non existent in black townships and as young boys, we were obliged to while away time by engaging in street football and the only ball which was easily accessible was a tennis ball, so we played with a tennis ball,” recalled Rhoo.
Being a bulky boy by nature, Rhoo was deemed unfit and hopelessly immobile to be an outfield player and would start his football career as a shot stopper – very much against his liking. As a result, he was contend to man the sticks in his formative years as a footballer but soon graduated to a menace striker terrorising robust defender with brutal force and speed.
After stints with small football teams such as Naughty Boys, Eleven Brothers and Paradise Football Clubs – Rhoo finally got his big break when he joined African Stars as an 18-year-old strike to start playing competitive football.
“Eish, there were no organized structures such as leagues or youth football – it was just a free for all and apart from playing against football local teams in the neigbourhood, we also traveled a lot outside town to small towns, notably Okahandja and Gobabis.
“We were obliged to collect stray empty bottles selling in return for proceeds, we wisely used to cover our traveling expenses”. Rhoo finally made his official club debut for the Reds in a knockout cup match against the now defunct Epako outfit Sunshine FC in Gobabis.
“Luckily, we won the trophy amidst disturbances with players constantly refusing to accept or adhere to referees’ decisions whenever calls went against them,” Rhoo revealed to New Era Sport.
It was not too long before Rhoo was upgraded to the position of centre forward, exchanging his gloves for shooting boots with new arrival, the 12-fingeres Ripuree Hoveka younger brother of George Kanima Hoveka, taking his place between the sticks.
The big frame forward announced his arrival in competitive football as a lethal goal poacher complimented by splendid performances week in and week out in the Reds’ firing line rattling the net with ferocious bullet like pile drivers – leaving many a shot stopper in pain and agony – let alone fractured fingertips.
“During our playing days, football was very tough and extremely competitive but we somehow managed to weather the storm winning few knockout cups along the way. I vividly remember ending on the winning side in a cup final against Zika Williams’ inspired Rocco Swallows in Windhoek.”
“We also reached the ill-fated cup final against Life Fighters in Otjiwarongo, as the match ended in total chaos after the two teams were deadlocked at the final whistle,” he charged.
In the interim, a significant number of the Reds’ old guards were starting to get a bit long in the tooth - resulting in unavoidable positional changes within the playing personnel.
Rhoo was obliged to vacate his position as forward succeeding retiring club legend Danger Siririka in the second last line of defense - a position he acquitted himself elegantly until his premature retirement in 1973.
“As it turned out, the game of football was evolving with organized structures coming into place subsequently paving the way for a horde of gifted young footballers entering the fray knocking on the door for starting berths in the first team line up.
“Our inevitable exit effectively opened the door for new blood which led to the imminent arrival of a new generation, ushered in by burly midfielder Kaika Kuzee.”
Other talented youngsters were; Smody Kamaheke, Manfred “Bush” Menjengua, Kirrie Tjituaiza, Ben Kauejao, Kaveumbua “Babes” Kangombe, Zeb Tjitemisa and other gifted young footballers all coming on board – leaving the pair of veteran fullbacks Mike Pack and Amos Tjombe the only survivors from the old guard.
Rhoo admitted that he had no regrets about his often-thorny journey on the football pitch and was still harbouring great memories of his countless battles with Katutura giants Black Africa.
“Black Africa were tricky opponent, they had the most accomplished player in the business in the shape of Albert Louw. That boy was an absolute football genius and was doubtlessly the spine of the team.
“There were also some great footballers such as the sweet left footed boy from Tsumeb Times Mwetuyela and of course, my former teammate Siseva.
“Times used to be a marvel to watch, great athlete with phenomenal balance on the ball, pace and could shoot from any angle at full speed and above all, a damn good dribbler, but in all honesty, Louw was doubtlessly a cut above the rest, the boy was abundantly blessed with a football brain second to none.” Bro Rhoo, kaende naua may your soul rest in eternal peace.
2018-10-19 12:18:10 4 months ago