Apart from Brave Warriors midfield general Petrus “Dancing Shoes” Shitembi and Axarob Mukoya, the far north-east town of Rundu has in the past produced top-notch footballers who have sadly gone unnoticed until their inevitable retirement from competitive football.
The author had the privilege of playing against some of the finest talents to have come from that neck of the woods and can confidently state that former Cuca Tops Football Club’s attacking midfielder Paulus Kandere, aka “Pau”, was arguably the most complete footballer amongst the pack.
Nonetheless, others also stood out and one athlete that caught the eye is none other than former Cuca Tops FC midfield genius, one Gosbert Shikerete.
And while the highly gifted Kandere retired from football without representing his native land at provincial, regional or international levels, Shikerete was the first footballer from that neck of the woods to represent the town internationally.
Born in the Karapamwe residential area, on the outskirts of Rundu on 7 November 1972, the much travelled versatile footballer started out at boyhood team Cuca Tops.
He was the youngest squad member at the tender age of 15 in a star-studded team that had the likes of the club’s blue-eyed boy Pau Kandere, NBC incumbent TV News Editor Andreas Frai, fellow scribe Celle Nkuvi, Jimmy Ponty, Maya Mayavero and Chicken Kandere in its armoury.
Eldest son of now retired top law enforcer, Egbert Shikerete, young Gosbert grew up in a house of strict discipline and it was only fitting that he would keep his tiny feet firmly on the ground.
He made his Premier League debut with the Rundu-based outfit aged just 15, barely out of his pair of shorts, making him one of a very few young footballers to play competitive football at that level. Upon Namibia’s democracy in 1990, young Gosbert was called up for the national senior football team, the Brave Warriors, eight years later.
Some of his celebrated teammates included the late pair of Brian Greaves and Bernhard Diocothle, Dawid Snewe, Steven Damaseb, Packs Uushona, Foresta Nicodemus, Mike Peterson, Nghenny Emvula and many others.
His impressive résumé includes representing the national under-20 side and under-23 Olympic youth team. His arrival in topflight football coincided with the beginning of what would become a bitter rivalry between Cuca Tops and cross-town rivals Rundu Chiefs.
Despite his tiny frame, the skillful young Gosbert quickly established himself as a vital cog in the team’s engine room alongside the more experienced Pau Kandere, aka the “Black Panther”.
In only his debut season in topflight football, “The Conductor” won almost every available silverware there was to be won in all domestic competitions in the Kavango region. Some of their victims included the then untouchable Grootfontein outfit Chelsea, Chief Santos and Benfica at different intervals, in that sequence.
As fate would dictate, the young playmaker was obliged to abandon the smooth sailing ship of the Kavango River Bullets, only to resurface at the other end of his motherland in “Kitmaro”.
His old man Egbert was transferred to Keetmanshoop to guard the police headquarters as regional commander of the //Karas region, where “The Conductor” was to pursue his academic aspirations at the revered J.A Nel Secondary School.
He joined forces with Tseiblaagte exciting outfit Try Again FC alongside other highly talented youngsters, spearheaded by Lolitto Goraseb, Paultjie Boostander, Jannaman Christians, Doc Fredericks and the late Angelo Fredericks, amongst others.
“We had a very good squad, a mixture of experienced and highly gifted youngsters. In no time, we fostered a decent rhythm in our style of play, winning football matches with relative ease. Try Again FC became unbeatable, claiming all domestic knockout cup tourneys, much to the delight of the team’s previously success-starved followers.”
With “The Conductor” pulling the strings in the middle of the park alongside the equally gifted Lolitto, the much adored Tseiblaagte outfit also clinched the coveted domestic league title hands down.
Blessed with an amazing first touch, spotless physic, excellent passer of the ball and above all a good reader of the game, the lanky boy from the Kavango possessed all the required ingredients for a complete footballer. He hit the ground running, winning the admiration of the club’s usually hard-to-please diehards and also earned the respect of his new teammates to the extent that he was given the captain’s armband.
He skippered the Tseiblaagte outfit to several accolades and it came as no surprise when Katutura giants Black Africa FC came knocking on the door for his precious signature, and as they say, the rest is history.
He was to form the spine of the invincible Black Africa side that supplied a significant presence of Brave Warriors players in their starting line-up, led by agile shot stopper Ronnie Kanalelo, Bobby Samaria, Lolo Goraseb, Eric Quest, Smithley Engelbrecht, Masebo Dausab, Lucky Richter, Mike Peterson and Stanley Louw, to mention but a few.
History reveals that this particular Black Africa squad was duped the Namibian “Knockout Cup Kings”, sweeping their opponents aside to claim all major knockout cup tourneys on offer.
“That was by far the best team in which I had ever played. We won everything that was on offer and could beat any team at any given time on our day.”
The well-spoken tallish shy boy from the Kavango made his Brave Warriors debut against Zambia’s Chipolopolo in Lusaka in the historic 1-all draw in 1998 under the stewardship of auxiliary head coach Seth Mataba Boois, before adding six more caps under his much decorated radar.
In a rare occurrence where a player from Black Africa would dare jump ship to join bitter rivals Orlando Pirates, “The Conductor” defied that unwritten rule and joined the Buccaneers in a move that sent shockwaves amongst the BA supporters.
“What actually transpired is that I went back to Rundu and rejoined my boyhood club Cuca Tops and when I came back to Windhoek, I played for the National Correctional Service (NCS) Football team.
“However, the urge for playing competitive football took the better of me and with Pirates courting me, I decided to give it a try since I also needed a new challenge, having achieved almost everything there was to be attained during my fabulous time at Black Africa.
“It was also a great honour playing alongside the likes of great footballers such as Michael Pienaar Jr, Cleverly Afrikaner, Bonny Uirab and the more experienced skillful midfield general Wagga Goagoseb.”
His amazing leadership qualities were hugely appreciated by the Ghosts as “The Conductor” was deservedly installed as the preferred candidate to skipper the Ghosts’ wobbling ship.
Though he did not enjoy the same success he got accustomed to at the Gemengde outfit, “Gossy” weathered the storm and managed to steady the Buccaneers ship out of stormy waters. He eventually called it quits but still has fond memories of his time at Pirates.
“I really enjoyed playing for Pirates and felt much loved and appreciated by the supporters. They are such an enthusiastic bunch of very loyal soldiers towards the Pirates brand and support their club through good and bad times. And for sure, I will always cherish my short stint with the Buccaneers,” he concluded.
Even though he has retired from competitive football, the football-crazy “Conductor” is still very much involved in the game, taking aspiring footballers through the ropes in the area of coaching. He currently coaches the National Correctional Services football team.