Much-travelled retired attacking midfielder Edwin van der Colff, famously known as “Winno” or better still “Ian Rush”, was a rare breed amongst the most lethal goal poachers of his generation. The Narraville-born lad was your typical old-fashioned net-buster, regularly registering his name on the score sheet as if the art of rattling the opposition’s net was going out of fashion.
He was one of very few coloured footballers from that neck of the woods to have represented Narraville with pride alongside Dolfie Campell, Malcolm Hendricks, Makes du Plessis, Arthur de Bruyn, Marius de Klerk, Funco Swarts, Doutie Beukes and Alan Dickson.
Born 9th of August 1969 in Walvis Bay, the slightly built “Baainaar”, started his football career at a very young age, barely out of his pair of shorts whilst a learner at the De Duine Primary School in Narraville.
The latter is an upmarket residential area holed up south of Namibia’s chief harbour town Walvis Bay, specifically tailored for the coloured/baster community and a few affluent darkies. For the first two seasons with the school’s football team, young “Winno” was made to kick his heels in frustration yawning for sufficient game time.
“I was ostensibly not in the coach’s plans and had to endure the embarrassment of watching my teammates strutting their stuff on the pitch from the sidelines,” recalls Winno. Nevertheless, the football-crazy youngster finally got his long awaited break when he changed schools.
Winno left his hometown only to resurface in Rehoboth to further his education at the Rehoboth High School but much to his disappointment, he was unable to fashion a spot in the school first team’s starting line-up.
After another frustrating period, Winno shifted to the city of bright lights (Windhoek) where he found refuge at Ella du Plessis High.
Unlike his failed attempts at his previous schools, Winno finally found his footing with the green and white strip students. He was duly selected to represent the Khomasdal higher learning institution’s first team and gladly grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
He made his first team debut against bitter rivals Dawid Bezuidenhout SS and by the time his new school travelled down to sea level to confront his former school De Duine SS, the highly gifted Winno was in mean mood and determined to take revenge for his lack of game time.
Blessed with a brilliant first touch, aerial power second to one, Winno played the game of his life, subsequently catching the eyes of talent scouts. And amongst those keeping tabs on the free-scoring youngster was none other than Namibia’s noted football guru uncle Bobby Sissing.
The hippy-look-alike uncle Bob wasted little time and dangled a juicy carrot in front of the baby-faced Winno to join forces with Arsenal FC. The youthful Khomasdal outfit boasted an array of highly gifted footballers, spearheaded by the football playing centre back Frederick “Tollie” van Wyk, Willem “Om Joep” Cloete, Bryan “Golla” van Staden, Elgin “Sputla” Masite, Willy Fredericks, Karl Mouton, Ralph Blaauw and a few others.
Under the stewardship of Cyril “Teenage” Isaacs and the late Desmond “Tutu” Basson, the team campaigned fiercely in the newly formed Central Namibia Football Association (CNFA) under the auspices of the militant South African Council of Sport (Sacos) umbrella body, fearlessly peddling the slogan “No Normal Sport in an Abnormal Society”.
In his own words, Winno played his best football with Arsenal for three solid seasons and was deservedly nicknamed “Ian Rush” or “Erdman” after the Liverpool legend by adoring fans.
“I was very good in the air and always scored most of my goals with my head. We won the coveted league title.”
His near faultless display week in and week out earned him a place in the CNFA Invitational Eleven that toured Durban and Cape Town, South Africa, respectively on separate occasions. Upon completing his secondary education, the boy with the Midas touch retreated to his native town Walvis Bay.
Winno joined local outfit Youngsters FC, a team joyfully supported by his family, teaming up with his two brothers and another notable footballer Dolfie Camphell. The colourful Narraville outfit won the coastal Erongo lower tier league title twice while Winno would go on to make the prestigious golden boot award his personal property.
The highly competitive league consisted of 14 teams, amongst them, Celtic, Refugees, Swakopmund Football Club (SFC) and Blue Boys. Sadly, Youngsters FC were denied an ideal opportunity to contest the play-offs for the country’s elite football league (NPL) after some clubs dug their heels in the sand refusing pointy blankly to be relegated.
Having won almost every piece of silverware at stake, it was time for the lethal goal poacher to seek new challenges as Winno joined cross-town club Eleven Arrows. Unfortunately, he never kicked a single ball for his new club as he was nursing an injury but by the time he was completely healed, uncle Bob came knocking on his door for his precious signature to join Nau-Aib (Okahandja) exciting outfit Liverpool FC in the country’s topflight football league.
Upon his arrival in the garden town, Winno was placed in the care of his boyhood hero Oscar “Silver Fox” Mengo. He found himself in the good company of the star-studded Liverpool squad alongside big names Albert Tjihero, Dawid Snewe, Bimbo Tjihero, Killian Kavari, Jamanuka Tjihero, Kamitiri Kuuahee, Hellao Naruseb, China Utoni, Donald Tjikune, Toufi Mbako.
The team was mentored by retired South African ball juggler and football icon Raphael Mlungisi Ngubane, aka “Professor”.
How was it like partnering “Big Fellah” in the firing line? “Eish, it was a great honour playing alongside ‘Big Fellah’, he helped me a lot with his multiple skills and amazing goal-scoring prowess.”
After just one season with the Okahandja outfit, Winno developed itchy feet and jumped ship only to resurface at ambitious Pionierspark outfit Ramblers FC.
“Both Ramblers and Young Ones were after my signature but I chose Rammies ahead of the Kings at Night because I desperately wanted to be reunited with my old buddy and former Arsenal teammate Tollie van Wyk.
“At the time, Ramblers were a very good big team but to carve a place in the starting line-up was distant, a Kilimanjaro to scale.” Ironically, Winno made his debut for Rammies against cross-town rivals Young Ones.
“(Laughs) ... I was always at my very best when coming up against coloured teams.”
A bird of passage, Winno silently slipped back to familiar territory to rejoin home team Youngsters but soon left for Kuisebmond giants Blue Waters where he nailed a regular starting spot for three consecutive seasons, winning the much sought after NPL league title in 1996.
Sadly, a nasty career-threatening torn knee ligament sustained against the visiting Gobabis opponents Desert Rollers at the Narraville stadium abbreviated his lodging with the Birds. Upon recovery, he rejoined Youngsters for the umpteenth time to wind up his well-decorated football career in the lower division before calling it a day. Nonetheless, Winno is not entirely lost to football and plays in the popular coastal social football league.