Retired Blue Waters Football Club’s strongly-built defender Freddie Bratha is one of those rare footballers who have won almost all available silverware there was to be won during his flawless football career. Always immaculately dressed, the big centre-back enjoyed an impressive playing career with coastal giants Blue Waters, winning several knockout cup tournaments with the untouchable Kuisebmond outfit. His wonderful performances right in the heart of Waters’ smooth sailing rear-guard has certainly given Namibian football great pleasure over the years. Bratha was the rock in a well-oiled defence, masterfully marshalled by Captain Fantastic, the late Willibard ‘Pari’ Shekupe. Read all about the untold story of Waters’ forgotten
Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekua
Born Freddie Mohlder Bratha in the modest central-northern town of Otjiwarongo on 14 August 1949, the strongly-built defender formed the spine of the exciting Waters’ outfit in the early 70s, strutting his stuff alongside the trident of evergreen Shekupe, Lukas ‘Oupapa’ Etenda Hipondoka, and the tough-tackling pocket-size fullback Tommy ‘Okanambaka’ Kaimbi.
Just the mere sight of his imposing big frame was enough to send butterflies running riot in the bellies of hardened criminals, let alone marauding strikers on the playing field. Like many young boys his age, young Bratha started playing football in the dusty streets of his hometown Otjiwarongo with fellow enthusiastic youngsters in the neighbourhood.
However, he only rose to prominence when he relocated to the harbour town of Walvis Bay. The tough-tackling defender joined forces with Kuisebmond outfit Blue Waters, and quickly cemented his place in the team’s starting line-up.
While his overall style of play might have captured the imagination and confidence of the neutral fan, Bratha was a steady defender who took no prisoners. Blessed with amazing speed, strong in the tackle and fairly comfortable in aerial duels, he was your typical old-fashioned complete centre-back.
Tellingly, Bratha was part of Waters’ golden generation that took domestic football by storm in the hotly-contested knockout cup tournaments staged across the country. Following in the footsteps of greats was not going
to be a walk in the park, but the hard-tackling defender certainly rose to the challenge of playing competitive football for the star-studded Waters’ outfit.
During his lodging with Waters, Bratha won several high-profile accolades that included back-to-back triumphs in the popular coastal Municipality Cup, the popular Easter weekend floating trophy in Tsumeb, and was a major force to be reckoned with in many August tournaments in Windhoek.
Without a shadow of doubt, Blue Waters was, back in the day, the chosen team to watch and certainly the number one envy of every football loving fan. Their serial attractive brand of carpet football had crowds glued to the edge of their seats, something never witnessed before in the annals of domestic football.
A true gentleman on and off the field, and trusted servant of the Birds, as Waters are also known, Bratha was the kind of athlete who could confidently provide security and stability at the back, which is what one would expect from defenders more than anything else.
Truth be told, for a bulky defender to have made the impact he has made is incredible because he simply understood the dynamics of the game so well, in the process gaining much-needed respect and experience of stopping marauding strikers right in their tracks. His positioning, complemented by timely tackles, was absolutely brilliant, and many noted goal poachers dreaded the thought of coming up against the ‘Beast’. Bratha was the kind of player who could at any given time slot into any position across the entire back line with relative ease.
A one-club man, Bratha’s loyalty towards the Birds speaks volumes for him as a person, and the calculated brother is still much loved by those who had the opportunity of rubbing shoulders with the Beast on the pitch.
That kind of loyalty is rare in modern football, and the easy-going retired defender deserves to be accorded legendary status because the ultimate success of Blue Waters, to a large extend, owes a great deal of gratitude towards players like him.
A model professional, always well behaved and well spoken, Bratha will definitely go down in history as one of the club’s finest defenders in the entire appetising history of Blue Waters Football Club.