Always calm, solid and never panicky when under pressure, the cool-as-a-cucumber and calculated defender Steve Kavari was your typical modern football-playing fullback in the real sense of the word.
The entire Epukiro community, education sector, and the nation at large lost a phenomenal educator par excellence and a great man of substance.
The former Hungry Lions Football Club overlapping fullback and educator who turned part-time livestock breeder, has sadly gone to meet his maker whilst still at the pinnacle of an otherwise flawless life journey. Stevie’s puke-inducing sudden death sent shockwaves amongst his subjects and those who came to know him up close.
In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sport feature – Tales of the Legends – profiling our sports personalities present and posthumously, New Era Sport pays dignified tribute to a pair of former teammates from the Brave Lions of Judah’s den.
The much adored and salted school principal Steve Kavari and former Lions’ teammate Mannfredt Kavejaa Tjho are both gone to be reunited with their ancestors. May their souls rest easy, collectively.
Carlos 'CK' Kambaekwa
Just as retired players from Katutura giant killers Hungry Lions Football Club, famously known as the ‘Brave Lions of Judah’, were still struggling to come to terms with the heart-bleeding departure of the club’s blue-eyed boy Billy Tuahepa, joined in heaven by a few others who have all been mercilessly wiped from mother planet by the monster called Covid-19, death has struck again.
A product of the unofficial “school of excellence” (football wise) – the St Joseph’s Secondary School (Döbra) – young Stevie turned out for hostel team London Cities, playing alongside Indies Damaseb, Garrincha Neumbo, Baby Gawaseb, Pecka Semba, Tostao, and few others before he was deservedly elevated to the school’s second string.
Upon completion of his studies, Stevie joined the unfashionable Katutura outfit Hungry Lions in 1986, to be reunited with some of his homeboys shepherded by Issy Ndaka Murangi, Japhta ‘Shakes’ Kandenge, Kairoo ‘Jomo’ Kauami, Uahindjua ‘Five’ Korupanda, Adam Ngurije Tjiveta, Nelson Hoveka, and of course adopted settler Usiel Muinjoo Kotjipati.
Tellingly, his unavoidable arrival at the Brave Lions of Judah coincided with the season the team severed ties with the Central Football Association (CFA) tier-one league to join the newly-formed breakaway National Super Soccer League (NSSL).
Stevie was thrown right into the deep end, dislodging veteran fullback Ephraim Rep Kanjaa. He made the sacred number 2 jersey his own property in a tight rear guard manned by the athletically built centre-back Sebastian Hange, bulky defender Manuel Mendos and the emerging Shoeshine Kambanda. The latter pair has since gone the way of all flesh. May their souls rest easy.
The old saying that home is always where the heart is played its hand again when Stevie represented his home village team Epukiro Chiefs with a great measure of provincial pride, arguably the strongest Chiefs team of all time.
Some of his celebrated teammates were Vemuna ‘Roadblock’ Hoveka, Tundukeru Kaindjee, Kaamberua Hambira, Kapora Murangi, Barry Rukoro, Fussy Tjozongoro, Pecka Semba, and Five Korupanda.
Upon his enforced premature retirement from playing competitive football, Bro Stevie traded his togs for the black drawing board and white chalk. The much-reserved tallish defender found employment as a rookie tutor at the K.J Kapeua Primary School at Okandjira, Ovitoto, situated 40 kilometres east of Okahandja.
Whilst at the compact mountainous village, Stevie took several youngsters through the ropes, showing them the finer points of modern football tactics and techniques on the playing field.
However, he was shipped to the newly-constructed Omuhaturua Elementary School in the historical unique village of Otjimanangombe holed up in the vastly-populated Omaheke region, assuming the plum portfolio of the inaugural school principal, a position he held with great aplomb until his untimely death.
The no-nonsense hard-tackling and lanky fullback represented the Brave Lions of Judah with distinction. His undying commitment, spirit and memory will live on in the hearts of his teammates and the entire Hungry Lions’ football family forever.
He will be laid to rest at his home village Okatuto on Sunday.
Until we meet again in heaven, go well bro, and may your gentle soul rest in power.
RIP Mannfredt Kavejaa ‘Louw’ Tjiho
1961 - 2022
And whilst distraught former players of the Brave Lions of Judah are reeling from the shock passing of a sizable number of the club’s stalwarts who fell prey to the devastating monster Covid-19 last year, tragedy has struck the close-knit unit for the umpteenth time. Another club stalwart in retired reliable fullback Mannfredt Tjiho has succumbed to illness.
His death follows shortly on the heels of club greats Billy Tuahepa, Giddies Gurirab, Ephraim Rep Kanjaa, Bobby Tjiho, Shoeshine Kambanda, Eleazer Kapi Ngatjiisiue, Foresta Nicodemus, Pulelee Herunga and Lions diehard Molaiks ‘Manager’ Murirua.
Tjiho, started his flourishing football career with the all-conquering Okakarara Secondary School team before joining the Brave Lions of Judah upon finishing his studies.
He established himself as a vital cog in the Lions’ traditional tight rear guard alongside the equally calculated tough-tackling defender and club stalwart Manuel Mendos and Sergius Nduki Tjazerua.
A well disciplined, calm, phenomenal game reader, a man of few words, and above all, a true servant of the game, the soft-spoken defender also skippered the star-studded Okakarara Secondary School football team.
Without a shadow of doubt, Tjiho will go down in the club’s history as one of the most complete defenders of all time.