Namibia’s largest harbour town and southern Africa’s preferred cargo hub has in the past produced a significant number of high-profile athletes.
The likes of rugby icon Percy Montgomery, world acclaimed middle distance runner Agnes Samaria, footballers Eliphas Shivute, Koko Muatunga, Ronnie Kanalelo, Ranga Lucas, Bonetti Niilenge, Don Renzke, Nghenny Emvula, Gabes Mupupa, Bossie Samaria, Daito Hagedoorn, Haban Adams and the football crazy De Gouveia brothers Ivo, Carlos and Sandro, are all proud products of Walvis Bay.
As if this was not enough, across town in Narraville, a slightly upmarket residential area for the coloured community and a few affluent blacks, great footballers also emerged from that neck of the woods in the shape of Wenn van der Colff, Marius de Klerk, Malcolm Hendricks, Makes du Plessis, and Allan Dickson to name but just a few.
Nonetheless, one particular player who stood head and shoulders above the rest is none other than retired Young Ones and Blue Waters Football Clubs attacking midfielder Rudolf “Dolfie” Campbell.
We caught up with the shaggy-haired smiling assassin, as he relives his amazing football journey that took him to the city of bright lights (Windhoek) where he established himself as the catalyst in the engine room of the Khomasdal outfit famously known as ‘The Kings at Night’.
Born Rudolf Campbell, in the harbour town of Walvis Bay on the 21st of August 1969, young Dolfie was just like many other boys: football crazy in the affluent township for non- whites during then South West Africa (SWA)’s oppression under the South African apartheid regime.
Whereas a sizable chunk of his peers engaged in the oval ball game of rugby, Dolfie would have none of that and preferred to rather chase after an inflated spherical shaped piece of leather.
Nowadays a devoted man of the cloth under the Shabbat Shalom Commandments, the strongly built Dolfie started playing competitive football at De Duine Senior Secondary School in his native Narraville at a fairly young age.
He started out at local club Narraville United and also had a stint with Portuguese outfit Sporting in the Diokom Football League. He was also selected for the South West Africa (SWA) Invitational Eleven during his time in the harbour town.
A complete footballer, blessed with a delicious left foot, Dolfie was a cut above the rest and certainly destined for the bigger stage where he could unleash his full potential as a highly gifted footballer.
With no comprehensive league football structures in Narraville, apart from sporadic knockout cup tournaments, Dolfie needed a new challenge to take his game to another level and it came as no surprise when he was snapped up by ambitious youthful Khomasdal outfit Civics in the country’s topflight football league, shortly after Namibia gained her long overdue democracy from South Africa in 1990.
After a six-month lodging in Bethlehem, the free-scoring burly midfielder developed itchy feet and left the Civilians only to resurface at bitter rivals Young Ones - much to the chagrin of the Civilians diehards.
His unavoidable arrival at the ‘Kings at Night’ coincided with the departure of the club’s blue-eyed boy and legend Lionel ‘Boet’ Mathews. Ironically, both players were left-footed but replacing the tricky Capetonian was a mammoth task for the seasider.
Dolfie slotted in the team’s free flowing system like a hand in glove and quickly established himself as a vital cog in the team’s well-oiled engine room alongside Ben Hendricks, Jacques Klaaste and Johnny Willemse.
His near faultless performance for the ‘Kings at Night’ did not go unnoticed as he was called up for the national senior football team, the Brave Warriors.
In the intervening years, well known Ghanaian players agent Jakes Amaning dragged the bulky midfield general to Turkey for trials with top club Eskesher but Namibia’s lowly world ranking put paid to what would have been an amazing breakthrough in an otherwise flourishing football career.
He went on to enjoy a whale of a time with the ‘Kings at Night’ and also had a taste of international football at club level when Young Ones represented Namibia in the highly competitive CAF Club Cup Championship, in Ethiopia.
As fate would have it, Young Ones suffered a devastating relegation from the country’s flagship football league, robbing the country of a much prized asset.
At the time, Young Ones was considered the finest football playing team in the business but with the core of the squad members coming to the end of their playing days the club did not have enough gas in its reserve tank – bringing to an end the existence of the finest football club to have graced Namibian pitches.
Dolfie wasted little time and crossed the floor to find refuge with cross-town rivals Ramblers. He continued to make waves in the national premiership, winning several personal accolades until his retirement from competitive football.
Upon his retirement, he continued playing in the popular coastal social football league with great aplomb for Walvis Bay old time campaigners Atlantis Football Club. Some of his celebrated teammates were Ivo de Gouvia, Raynoldt dos Santos, Sandro de Gouveia, Sheya Mwalasi, Steven Damaseb, Chicken Kasaona and the ageless evergreen Bobby Kurtz, amongst others.