Born in Namibia’s commercial capital Windhoek some 55 years ago, Phillip Muinjo is the son of elder Edgar Veiko, elder brother of Tigers FC stalwarts Martin and Johnny Veiko. His old lady Itah Muinjo-Hoeses was a notable basket rattler (netball) in her heyday, whilst elder brothers Erich and Simon Muinjo were formidable footies in their own right.
Young Phillip started chasing leather as a pupil at the Auas Primary School, before settling in at Jan Jonker Afrikaner Secondary School, and was amongst the very first tenants of the revered learning institution in 1980. After completing Grade 11, he enrolled at the Khomasdal Academy/Technical College, pursuing a career in motor- mechanical engineering, and did his NTS 1 and NTS2 on par with matric then for two years.
Phillip Muinjo started playing football at the tender age of 10 in the dusty streets of Katutura with boyhood buddies Frank Fredericks, Foresta Nicodemus, the Richter brothers Lazarus and Lucky, and his brothers Simon and Willy Muinjo.
“We were such a talented bunch in our location, and tried out any sporting discipline one could think of, especially track and field athletics, karate, swimming and golf, besides football,” recalls the easygoing Phillip.
He went on to excel quite well at school academically, and was a mean sprinter in the 100m, 200m and 100x4m sprints, as well as long distance running and high jump, competing fiercely with fellow pupils in the shape of Hermann Gariseb and the Matesu brothers Anton and Gert.
Nonetheless, football was always his first love, and it was only fitting that he would start playing competitive football for boyhood team Orlando Pirates. He started out with the Ghosts’ second strings under the watchful eyes of the late strict disciplinarian, Zebbo Engelbrecht.
His football exploits did not go unnoticed as he was duly selected to represent his motherland at provincial level in the prestigious South African Inter-Provincial Youth Currie Cup tournament in Cape Town, South Africa in 1984. Strangely, he was mistaken for a great Brazilian football legend by a Zulu waitress at the team’s hotel, who asked him for his autograph.
The first-ever mixed race football team to represent Namibia at provincial youth level won all their exhibition matches, with young Phillip netting a hat trick in one match. He was also in the squad the following year, 1985, for the same U/20, with three newcomers including Sandro de Gouveia, an exceptionally stylish 16-year-old midfielder at the time.
In 1986, Phillip alongside Frank, Forra, Habasen Gurirab, Simon Kgobetsi and Packs and Lovey Uushona were selected for the President’s Eleven (XI) for an exhibition match against the National Senior Team at the packed-to-the-rafters Independence Stadium.
He cherishes his combination with fellow midfielder Gabriel Player Wimmert, whom he places in the same category as veterans Ambrosius Vyff and Koko Muatunga. Phillip would then hop on to feature as guest player for ambitious Katutura outfit Sorento Bucs and Khomasdal side Young Ones in the then popular 7-a-side tournaments for exposure.
He expressed gratitude towards local football administrator Japhet Hellao, a former Orlando Pirates and SWA team agile shot-stopper. Phillip eventually joined forces with Black Africa for a brief stint in 1986, reuniting with boyhood buddy Frank Fredericks, and mentored by greats such as Lucky Boonstander, Mike Pietersen, Five Hochobeb, David Snewe, Fighter Louis, Crooks Casper and Rusten Mogane, amongst others.
“I felt more loved and valued here because there was simply no place for me in the star-studded Orlando Pirates’ senior team’s starting eleven”, he noted. He later relocated to Tsumeb, where he joined Nomtsoub outfit Benfica FC after he found a job as lead casting operator at the TCL Smelters.
He first joined unfashionable mine team Royals FC before he was lured to Benfica by schoolteacher Shilamba, then president of Benfica. He linked up with the talented Uushona brothers Packs, Daddy and Lovey, Richo Ouseb, Karl Nanyemba, Abraham Shomeya Sam, Licky Gideon, Draka Shetekela, Benny Narib, Mof Shailemo, Theo Amadhila, Fisher Kavindjima and other highly gifted footies in the Copper Town.
Bro Phil vividly remembers a time when he invited his old lady Idah for a league match against Pirates with his late brother Erich on the opposing end, playing at left-back. “Boy, I was so nervous, but gave my Ou Boeta tough time that particular day, and could hear my mom cheering and laughing out loud on the sidelines every time I dribbled past Erich out of pure excitement watching both her sons competing against each other. I was very scared to visit them at home after the match before travelling back to Tsumeb”, he laughs.
Benfica won the battle 2-1, and having played a blinder against his former team, Phillip warmed himself into the hearts of the club’s diehards and fellow teammates. The team did fairly well, and won a few important trophies.
The highlight of his football career was when Benfica defeated Black Africa in the final of the prestigious Metropolitan Cup by a solitary goal in 1987, although he only played for about 20 minutes as a second-half substitute to showcase his natural talents.
After securing a job with Tsumeb Copper Limited (TCL), the speedy winger was selected for the 2nd team of the mining team, alongside the stylish Conrad “The Horse” Angula for the annual Inter-Mines Football Tourney in Arandis during 1987. Both TCL’s 1st and 2nd teams won their respective divisions.
In mid-December 1987, Phillip was transferred to Rossing Uranium as a drill spotter in the open pit, where he worked for only two months before he was on his way again, this time back into familiar territory (Windhoek).
He rejoined Black Africa, and played few matches before he secured a scholarship with the Lutheran World Federation via the Ephesians Lutheran Church in Katutura with the assistance of both Alwine Awases and the late political activist Danny Tjongarero.
He was to be reunited with Frank Fredericks in the USA, stationed at Brigham Young University (BYU), Salt Lake City, Utah State, while Phillip was at Dana College, Blair, Nebraska for two years before moving to Grand View College, Des Moines, Iowa State, for the remaining two years. He completed an Individualised Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree, with emphasis on Radio, Television Communications & Business Administration.
At Grand View College level, Phillip was selected to form part of the College Football Team (1990-1992), alongside Edmund Buys, younger brother of Manfred Gertze and Brain Zwazcka (from the USA), both extremely good midfielders.
“We basically won all college games within Iowa State for two consecutive seasons, and were crowned the District Champions of Iowa Region”. Unfortunately, Bro Phil sustained a career-ending knee injury (lateral meniscus tear) that saw him undergoing six surgeries, thrice in Namibia, twice in the USA and once in the RSA, but to no avail. He was eventually obliged to kiss the game goodbye while still at the pinnacle of his blossoming football career.
Upon his enforced retirement from competitive football, the easygoing socialite, a jazz fanatic, enjoys family life and loves to spend quality time with his children and grandchild whenever an opportunity arises.
A calculated fellow of great substance, Bro Phil joined the Namibia Investment Centre (NIC), occupying the portfolio of Trade & Investment Promotion Officer. He was subsequently elevated to the plum position of Chief Trade and Investment Executive, a seat he uninterruptedly held for 14 years.
He resigned in 2008 to join Diminco Diamonds (Pty) Ltd as General Manager for Administration & Corporate Affairs for three years. His next stop was NUST as the Technology Transfer Officer, before he went solo, calling into life his own company Goodwill Investment (Pty) Ltd. Bro Phil nowadays operates as a freelance Operations Trade & Investment Consultant with emphasis on oil, gas, mining and agriculture.
“I am so grateful to so many positive, influential and supportive people I ever met in my life’s journey, in the following sequence: Aunt Ricky and Frank Fredericks, Edmund Buys, Tilo Blechscmidt, Ralph Schindinger (both Germany), Amare Haile (USA), William Teek, Edison Pieters, Geofrey Kasupi and my late brother Erich, whom I’ll always be proud of for his immerse contribution to the football fraternity, and his ever-present loving spouse Irene, my siblings, lovely Aunt Rachel/Nana, and last but not least, my beloved loving and most caring soul I’ve ever known, Idah Muinjo-Hoeses. I can never thank u enough mom, my everlasting love”.