Tales of the legends - Toe-to-toe with activist and retired footballer Knowledge Ndunge Ipinge
The name Knowledge Ndunge Ipinge will go down in our national archives as the brave young man who took the bull by its horns, defying old age tradition when he stood as an independent candidate as councilor for Walvis Bay Urban constituency – winning the contest hands down, much to the chagrin of political heavyweights.
It’s obvious that the Kuisebmond-born lad’s astonishing victory was largely aided by his previous involvement with the beautiful game of football. A vibrant community activist, Knowledge falls perfectly in the categories of intellectuals if the old adage that left-handed human beings possess extraordinary intellect and above average skills. Those that spring to mind are Albert Einstein, Norries Goraseb, Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Kaizer Motaung, Petrus Shitembi, Jimmy Hendrix, let alone the genius trident of classical musical legends of Ludwig van Beethoven, Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Mozart.
We caught up with the outspoken youthful fearless community activist and former footballer whose promising football career was sadly curtailed by an unfortunate career-ending injury, as he relives his flourishing but somewhat abbreviated football journey that took him across the Orange River, to neigbouring South Africa.
WALVIS BAY – Christened after kind-hearted generous local business mogul Knowledge Katti, young Knowledge was destined for greater heights since his childhood.
Knowledge started playing football in the dusty Diamond Street, the very same area where the likes of Paulus “Wire” Shipanga, Robson Haitamba, Mathias Haufiku, Jeremiah Nendongo and the late Richard Vendura, also grew up learning the ropes of the game playing street football.
Since his primary school days, Knowledge was an acrobatic goalkeeper for Immanuel Ruiters Primary, Duinesig Combined and Narraville Primary schools, respectively.
Knowledge was duly selected for the under-13 school team and was subsequently selected as the first choice goalie for the regional football team, which participated in a national tourney.
Driven by a winning mentality second to none and passion for success, Knowledge could no longer tolerate the sight of having to stop dangerous shots the whole day while his goal-shy strikers kept wasting inviting goal-scoring opportunities.
He started taking set pieces, sporadically moving upfield for corner kicks and the more he scored the more he was inspired to consider becoming an in-field player.
At school, Knowledge was a noted sprinter excelling in the short sprints. He clocked 10, 58 seconds in the 100-metre sprint and was also very comfortable with the oval ball tucked under his arm (rugby).
The multi-talented stocky athlete was equally at home in cricket at school since sport was the only pastime that could keep young boys from getting suspended for committing all sorts of troubles at school.
A smart scholar, bro “K” also represented his high school De Duine Secondary in the hotly contested National Debate Championship. And on a particular windy day, the stocky athlete ended up at Blue Waters training field where their feeder team, Blue Birds, was engaged in a friendly match with only two players on the substitute bench.
And by the time coach Lucky Shipanga had already utilised his two available options on the bench, one of his wingers got injured in around the 60th minute – leaving the team to soldier on with one man down for about 10 minutes.
As the pressure started mounting, Shipanga called Knowledge into action, asking him about his shoe size for divine intervention. Wycliff Kambonde offered to avail his football togs and as they say, the rest is history.
“At the time, it was a dream come true for me to wear a Blue Birds shirt as I had attempted many times before just to train with the team but with little success as I was not allowed due to limited space in the star-studded squad that boasted the finest talented footballers from Kuisebmond at their disposal.”
His cameo role on the day must have impressed coach Shipanga, as he rounded off a near faultless performance with a goal to seal Blue Birds’ victory. Afterwards, he was invited for training sessions with the team.
After just one season in the second tier league and as a result of his amazing work ethic on the field of play, young Knowledge was deservedly promoted to Blue Waters’ first team for the 2001/2002 season in the country’s flagship football league, the Namibia Premiership (NPL).
He made his NPL debut against Friends FC away in Rehoboth on a sunny Sunday at 13h00 and managed to finish on the winning side.
He won his first silverware with the club in December 2002 when Omeya claimed the MTC Christmas Cup and went on to win multiple accolades with the exciting Kuisebmond outfit throughout his time with the Beautiful Birds, under the stewardship of Zimbabwean import Shepherd Murape.
His last trophy in an otherwise illustrious football career came in 2005 when he netted the winning penalty against African Stars during the dreaded penalty shootout after the mouth-watering clash finished in a stalemate.
Such was his impressive performance that astute local football agent Colin April masterminded a transfer move to South African giants Jomo Cosmos and OR Tambo Cosmos, respectively in South Africa for close to a year.
However, due to the strict foreign quota restrictions in the South African Premier League (PSL) and an absurd asking fee from his parent club, he never managed to make a permanent switch, which led to an early home return.
He joined ambitious Khomasdal outfit Civics FC upon his return but his motivation was at its lowest ebb – completely killing his passion for football.
“I played for half a season for Eleven Arrows after returning from a career-threatening fractured leg in 2004 and also had two separate stints with Civics and also played for Tigers FC for half a season as well.”
Knowledge’s leadership traits started showing as early as in the national under-17 team days when he was given the captain’s armband of the team that toured Germany, Burundi, Rwanda and South Africa.
He says he owes a great deal of gratitude to Farouk Khan, whom he claimed to have shaped his football career and life skills in general during his time at the revered Stars of Africa Football Academy, living with his family who taught him that leadership begins with taking responsibility, having vision for the future and being able to communicate with others effectively.
Sadly, his departure from Stars of Africa turned out to be an unpleasant episode after he opted to vacate the ship following a frustrating period impatiently kicking his heels in frustration without game time.
“My patience to wait for a bigger opportunity was slowly running thin – something I went on to regret my hastily taken decision within three months when my former teammate at Stars of Africa, May Mahlangu, went on to sign with a top club in Sweden.
“Farouk always used to tell me that he was working on plans to get me and May to Europe, but the fire in me kept on getting distracted by the opportunities I came across in Jo’burg.
“Eish ... thinking back now, I actually learned at a relatively young age that the modern Christian hypocrisy is to act in accordance with your faith, but to pretend your faith is really no different to someone else’s.”
Knowledge officially retired from competitive football after a short stint with Tura Magic, which was largely influenced due to his focus on forging a career in entrepreneurship and community activism.
Nonetheless, the Magicians opted to retain the articulate coastal lad as part of their close-knit family in a technical role, firmly believing he still had a lot to offer to the game despite going into premature retirement at a relatively young age whilst still at the pinnacle of a promising football career.
In the intervening years, he went on to serve on Blue Waters Sport Club’s executive board on which he still sits, adding that it is his longtime dream to revive his boyhood team into a football powerhouse once again.
Amongst his well-decorated résumé, Knowledge was technical advisor to Paulus Shipanga during his tenure as Blue Waters head coach and returned again in the same capacity to Armando Pedro during the last season in efforts to rescue the club from relegation. Bro Knowledge is a CAF - B Coaching Licence holder and FIFA Futuro III in Administration and Management.
Son of the late schoolteacher Festus Asino Ipinge, popularly known as ‘Teacher Fee’, and Toini Ipinge, maiden name Andima, his old man christened him Ndunge when his old lady was about seven months pregnant for reasons only known to him till this day, and went on to translate it into English as Knowledge when time came to give him a Christian name.
“My father was known as a very strict Sub-B teacher at the Immanuel Ruiters Primary School and Knowledge Katti was one of his favourite sharp learners and it can never be rocket science to know from where he drew inspiration for my name.”
The old man further named him after his own father, Wennik, a name known only by a selective few people who are very close to him.
2020-03-13 11:13:23 | 25 days ago