Holed up in the remote southern part of Namibia, the coastal town of Lüderitzbucht, was literally isolated from many social activities to the extent that many of the country’s inhabitants were not exactly conversant with the town’s existence.
Back in the day, the windy town, locked up in the historical Zum Sperrgebiet Namib desert, approximately 320 kilometers, south-west of Keetmanshoop, in the vast //Kharas Region, athletes from Lüderitz never really enjoyed the same privileges as their inland counterparts.
Though the town had few functional football teams, apart from Aus, Bethanie, Grunau, Keetmanshoop, Karasburg, Oranjemund and sporadically Upington - teams from that neck of the woods were unable to test their real strength against the crème de la crème of domestic football as a result of the marathon distance, let alone sub-standard road infrastructure, back in the day.
Indeed a very sad episode that restricted their opportunities to represent their motherland at provincial level. Besides the late Shaanika Andreas, Leo Shimbuli, Salomo Shidolo, Pietie van Wyk, Frans Demwinda, Elton Daniels, Nellens Kapia, Kazan Sokupo, Stanley Kwambi, Eusebio Fredericks and sprinting sensation Benedictus Botha – very few “Buchters” managed to hit the big stage, sports-wise.
However, a fairly unknown young midfielder going by the name of Jean Martin changed the misplaced perception that “Buchters” were just a bunch of jolly good fellows, better known for their stylish way of tackling life and traditional township slang. The gap-toothed box-to-box midfielder will be remembered for having set the domestic football scene alight with breathtaking performance week in and week out for exciting Kuisebmond outfit Blue Waters FC, aka the Birds.
New Era Sport caught up with the baby-faced retired midfielder-cum-commercial farmer, as he relives his somewhat unfulfilled football journey with a certain measure of sadness.
WINDHOEK – Born and bred in Namibia’s second largest harbour town, Lüderitzbucht, young Jean was football crazy from the moment he started walking. He would play football on his way to school and sometimes in the streets in front of his old man’s popular grocery shop in the Kasie.
His genes dictated that he would be a footballer of note. After all, his old man Imbili Rautenan Martin used to be a great defender in his younger days and was also the main “Langana” of local football team Atlanta Bucks.
An uncle from his maternal side Mannetjie Tjikune ranks amongst the most prolific goal poachers of his generation during a rollercoaster stint with coastal outfits Red Fire and Namib Woestyn Football Clubs, respectively. Jean’s old lady Hilda Tjikune-Martin was also a mean athlete who excelled in the netball discipline during her student days at the revered Augustineum High School in Okahandja.
And to add the cherry on top of the cake, elder brother Sidney Martin is the man accredited for having shaped the face of domestic football during his three-year tenure at the helm of Katutura glamour football club African Stars, whilst nephews Donald Tjikune and Sylvester “Selly” Njambari were established footballers who have both represented the national senior football team, the Brave Warriors and Liverpool FC with distinction.
The young midfielder started his football career with local side Flying Eagles – very much to the chagrin of his old man Imbili, who wanted his son to join forces with Atlanta Bucks. “My old man was not quite too happy but I followed my heart defying his wishes,” recalls Jean.
The soft-spoken calculated retired midfielder rose to prominence when he moved to the ‘City of Bright Lights’ (Windhoek) to further his studies at the revered Ella Du Plessis High School in Khomasdal in 1988.
Usually a very reserved boy of very few words, Jean was relatively new to his teammates let alone the fast life in Namibia’s commercial city.
Nevertheless, the football playing “Buchter” quickly settled down in the new environment. In no time, he was calling the shots in the school’s football first team in a star-studded squad that included the likes of Ricardo Mannetti, Vlam Jansen, Rex English and many other highly talented young footballers.
After some consistent solid performances in the school football team’s engine room, the “Buchter Bomber” was duly rewarded for his near faultless display and was selected for the South West Africa (SWA) Under 16 football side for the South African annual provincial youth tournament.
And if this was not enough, Jean was given the captain’s armband, marshalling a formidable squad that had in their midst incumbent Brave Warriors mentor Ricardo “Bucksy” Mannetti.
Upon completing his studies, the football-crazy midfield general resurfaced in the coastal town of Walvis Bay where he joined Kuisebmond outfit Blue Waters Football Club.
He found himself mentored by former Black Africa and SWA midfield general, the late Albert Louw, who was eventually succeeded by another football great Ivo De Gouveia before the latter gave way to shrewd Zimbabwean mentor, Sheperd Murape, in the intervening years.
His arrival at “Omeya” coincided with the team’s transformation as the Birds were rebuilding the team after the country had gained her democracy from apartheid South Africa.
Jean found himself in the good company of Sandro De Gouveia, Britho Shipanga, Striker Muaine, Dokkies Theodor, Eliah Hipundjua, Chicken Kasaona, Fonso Hangara, Ole Tjizumaue, Karasa Mupupa, Sheya Mwelasi and some great young talent.
He was to form the backbone of the Birds’ engine room alongside the more experienced De Gouveia. The latter had just arrived from South African professional outfit Vasco Da Gama and the pair went on to form a deadly partnership.
As fate would dictate, Jean’s blossoming football journey with the Beautiful Birds was unfortunately curtailed by a nasty off-the-field career-ending injury via a horrific motor vehicle accident – essentially abbreviating an otherwise successful three-year stint in the Birds’ nest.
A staunch supporter of English giants and newly crowned European champions Liverpool Football Club, Jean was not entirely lost to the game as he joined ambitious local German outfit Sport Klub Windhoek (SKW) aka “Immer Wieder” in the Old Boys Social Football League upon recovery from multiple injuries sustained in the horrific car accident.
2019-06-21 11:09:39 2 months ago