A product of the unofficial school of excellence, the revered St. Josephs Secondary School (Dobra) situated north east of Namibia’s commercial capital Windhoek, former African Stars and Life Fighters football clubs midfield anchorman Benestus Riundjua ‘Clave” Herunga, is a chap of the old block. His genes dictated that he would be a footballer of note, after all, elder brother the late Boas “Mboroto” Herunga, was an acrobatic shot-stopper with ambitious Katutura outfit Flames and Windhoek City back in the day. Younger brother Pulelee Herunga counts amongst the most promising young centre backs of his generation in the business. The strongly built calculated fellow’s much travelled football career was curtailed by persistent hobbling from town to town, a culmination of work commitment as a banker taking him to various towns across the width and length of his motherland. Here’s his full story about his football journey.
orn in Windhoek on the 30th of December 1963, young “Clave’ whose clan name is Riundjua, was a real township “toughie” growing up in the dusty streets of the vastly populated Katutura residential area for natives.
Although he played a lot of street football during his younger days, he only rose to prominence when he went to further his education at the Roman Catholic St Josephs Secondary Boarding School.
He joined a hostel side going by the name of Eusebio Football Club where he teamed up with former Black Africa FC hard working midfielder Carpio Kauendji and his cousin, Eleven Arrows hard as steel centre back Temu Samaria, Kavetjiua Mbahuurua and Tigers FC robust fullback, the late Don Akumani Shipanga.
Upon completion of his secondary education, Clave netted himself a slave as a banker at giant financial institution Standard Bank and got posted to the garden town (Okahandja). The likeable soft-spoken midfield general did not waste time and joined forces with unfashionable Nau-Aib outfit Morokka City Stars.
The club has been operating as a feeder team for local side Black Beauty Chiefs (BBC) but eventually grew in stature following the closure of BBC due to a lack of playing personnel with a significant chunk of squad members having become a bit long in the tooth while others exchanged the garden town for the city of bright lights (Windhoek) in search of pastures green.
“We assembled a very good team of young talented footballers and mainly competed in knockout tournaments,” relives Clave.
Amongst his new teammates were; Tjutju “Shoeshine” Kambanda and his younger brother Tjijapaa, Muuonge Katjihingua and younger brother Natjee, Justus “Mengo” Tjazerua, Shorty Kamburona, Marama Ngahahe, Fares Katjiku, Bobby Kotjipati, Steven Kariazu, Tjeripo “Pro” Rijatua, Heilig Ndjitavi, Anton Katjipo, Tony Meroro and Kanakie “Baardman” Kahorongo, amongst others.
It was not long before Katutura glamour football club African Stars recruited a sizeable number of youngsters from the team’s playing personnel. As it turned out, Clave was amongst those chosen to don the red, white and blue strip of Starlile’s second strings.
After few near faultless displays in the second team, he was promoted to the Reds’ star-studded first team, and as they say, the rest is history. “I was still working for Standard Bank in Okahandja and had to commute between Windhoek and Okahandja for training sessions and on match days with teammates Edu Garixub, Jamanuka Tjihero, Times Goagoseb and Hassie Mingeri”
Clave made his debut in the country’s topflight football league against Orlando Pirates at the SKW stadium in Windhoek in 1984. However, he missed the Red’s hard fought 1-0 victory over Blue Waters in the Mainstay Cup final through injury though played a significant part in the club’s march to the final.
Despite his impressive display in the middle of the park for the Reds, Clave was transferred to Otjiwarongo. As a result, of the fairly vast distance between Windhoek and Otjiwarongo, Clave could no longer attend training sessions with his boyhood team in Windhoek and found himself in a Catch-22 situation.
Nonetheless, football gurus Oscar Mengo and Jeffrey Kavendjii acted swiftly and struck a deal for Clave’s unavoidable transfer to traditional bitter rivals Life Fighters without any hiccups.
It was at “Kahirona”, as the Orwetoveni based outfit is affectionately known amongst its ardent followers that Clave was to rub shoulders with the likes of speedy winger Nikita Hivei, Lefa Ngavetene and sharp shooter Five Kandingua in the purple and white strip outfit’s devastating attack.
As fate would dictate, Clave’s romance with Kahirona was abruptly abbreviated as he was posted for the umpteenth time to another town. This time, Omaruru was his next port of call where he joined local team Sundowns FC. It was here where he was converted to centre forward from his customary midfield position.
“Eish...we had some great times in Omaruru with Sundowns Football Club, competing fiercely in several low key knockout open cup tournaments in neigbouring towns, which attracted top footballers from the national premier league,” he adds.
Next stop was Grootfontein. The much travelled midfielder-cum-striker found refuge with little known Omulunga outfit Northern Pirates Football Club, under the stewardship of shrewd mentor and teammate Bassie Waters.
“We regularly competed against opponents from Tsumeb and Rundu to honour our league fixtures against the likes of Cuca Tops, Rundu Chiefs, Rangers, and Royals, in that
2020-04-03 09:34:23 | 4 months ago