A typical old-fashioned centre forward, former Black Beauty Chiefs (BBC) and unfashionable Kuisebmond-outfit Red Fire Football Clubs’ serial net buster, the late Festus Tjouho Kauaaka, famously known as ‘Big Shoe’, will go down in history as one of the most complete centre forwards of all time.
Born and growing up in the garden town of Okahandja, the strongly built ‘Big Shoe’ was amongst the first generation of the now-defunct Nau-Aib- outfit BBC, successor to the Zebras, a predominantly Otjiherero-speaking team in apartheid South West Africa (SWA) back in the day.
Namibia has in the past unearthed phenomenal strikers in the following sequence: Wherrick Zimmer-Goraseb, Dawid ‘Big Fellah’ Snewe, Jackson Meroro, Pius ‘Garrincha’ Eigowab, Anton ‘Orlando’ Damaseb, Phello Muatunga, Ellen van Harte, Ishmael ‘Lemmy Special’ Narib, Martin Sigab Williams, aka ‘Okambua Kombandi’, Hano ‘Pufi’ Rahn, Steven Damaseb, Justice Basson, Times Mwetuyela, Gerros Uri-Khob, Herbert ‘Shorty’ Lohmeir, Kosie Springbok, Ewaldt Hoeseb, and few others. Well, ‘Big Shoe’, should be in that conversation, period!
In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sport feature Tales of the Legends, profiling our sport heroes and heroines alive and posthumously, New Era Sport, pays a dignified tribute to forgotten football legend, ‘Big Shoe’.
ack in the day, during the dark days of the apartheid era, Bantus or Natives (blacks) were systematically denied the opportunity to unleash and display their God-given talent in a conducive environment.
This inhumane exercise was
not only restricted to the political front, such as the un-negotiable birth right to vote for their preferred leaders, let alone freedom of movement in the land of their ancestors - blacks were flatly denied the freedom of association, including competing against their African counterparts at international level on the sporting front.
As a result of racial segregation, darkish-hide athletes were never exposed to international standards and could only compete on provincial level against lowly ranked South African provinces in the less glamorous meaningless sporadic exhibition matches.
Despite being the closest town to Namibia’s commercial capital Windhoek, the garden town of Okahandja has been lacking far behind in terms of development. With a relatively pocket-size population, the town only had five competitive football teams in the following sequence: Die Mannschaft (whites), BBC, Spoilers, Magic Tigers, Battle Boys, and Youngsters (basters/coloureds).
Whilst Die Mannschaft would compete unhindered in the well organised SWA national football league, exclusively tailored for whites only, football teams from the impoverished black townships were made to do with rotational friendly matches on weekends, with the odd knockout cup tourneys in neighbouring towns, such as Karibib, Omaruru, Usakos, Windhoek and Otjiwarongo.
A product of Nau-Aib’s only native learning institution, Aurora Primary School then ‘Big Shoe’ was a highly competitive multi-talented athlete, excelling in almost everything he managed to lay his hands on.
A mean sprinter in the short sprints, ‘Big Shoe’ showed early flashes of greatness with the spherical object glued to his big-sized feet. He was amongst the second generation that replaced the old guard at local football club, BBC.
Some of his celebrated teammates were: Binga Kairikove, Merino Kandonga, Oscar Axarob Ngaringombe, Obed Tjiunomake Kairikove, Usiel Ndjandu Jaezuruka, Gerson ‘Flappie’ Kahengombe, Alexander Kai-Kai Vekarapi, Urbanus Tjipu Kaputjaza, Mannfred Maatu Tjenda, Markus Shilongo, Ignatius Ngarukue Kaitjirokere, Gerhard Louis, Mbangombi Kandorozu, Tjarakaha, Oscar Mengo, Elias Leopoldt, Issy Tjombonde, Petrus ‘Petu’ Sylvanus.
The athletically-built forward possessed all the required ingredients of a complete footballer and could have easily walked blindfolded into any top team’s starting line up without having to shed a single ounce of sweat.
He was not just a proven goal scorer, ‘Big Shoe’ was a real beast on the football pitch and arguably one of the best strikers in domestic football and had he played for one of the big teams in the city of bright lights (Windhoek), many people would have taken note of his unquestionable immense talent.
Blessed with amazing blistering speed, great dribbling skills second to none, ‘Big Shoe’ packed dynamite in both feet, could shoot from tight angles at full speed and was also very lethal in aerial duels. Having won almost every available silverware there was to be won with boyhood team BBC, it was time to explore new adventures.
The big frame goal poacher packed his bags, and headed down sea level in search of green pastures, only to resurface at Kuisebmond Men’s Compound-based unfashionable outfit, Red Fire Football Club. He forged a great, though somewhat abbreviated, partnership with club stalwarts, free-scoring Mannetjie Tjikune and the muscular Bobby Kazondandona.
After a short spell with the ‘Ozohande’, as the overly ambitious red and white strip Walvis Bay outfit was affectionately known amongst its ardent followers, ‘Big Shoe’ retreated to his hometown and re-joined BBC.
He would occasionally also feature for local youthful Nau-Aib outfit Marokko City Stars in unofficial open knockout cup tournaments. The usually calculated soft-spoken forward was rewarded for his greatness with the BBC’s captain armband and led his boyhood team with distinction.
This author had the opportunity of playing alongside the departed unheralded football genius, and is well placed to narrate his unwritten football prowess without favour or fear. The late ‘Big Shoe’ was without a shadow of doubt one of the greatest centre forwards to have ever played the beautiful game of football on Namibian soil.
Those from the garden town who had the opportunity of watching the ‘Nau-Aib Beast’ torment and brutalise robust defenders with astonishing strength, amazing pace, brilliant first touch and gorgeous ball skills, will hopefully nod in agreement that Big Shoe’s legacy should be preserved whilst his name should be rightfully printed in the golden pages of our national archives.
Sadly, like many great athletes of his generation, Bro Big Shoe’s life had a nasty rather un-cool ending. The brother unavoidably fell into the trap of victims of society and eventually died a forgotten lonely soul, after he silently retreated to his home village (reservat), Ombu Jovakuru in the Okakarara district, Otjozondjupa region. May his gentle soul continue to rest in power.