Without a shadow of doubt, former Blue Waters and Eleven Arrows Football Club speedy winger Thomas Uushona, aka ‘Uncle Tommy’ was one of the greatest footballers ever to emerge from our shores and surely needs some kind of acknowledgement and recognition.
At the peak of his astonishing football career between the 60s and 70s - the speedy forward had little peers in the business of chasing the inflated pigskin. Uncle Tommy would always leave his markers for dead with his amazing pace and brilliant first touch.
The athletically built right wing would run with the ball at full speed as if it was glued to his feet – zigzagging between robust defenders with breathtaking pace like a knife cutting through hot butter.
History reveals that Uncle Tommy was the only athlete who played competitive football alongside three of his equally gifted siblings in the country’s topflight football league whilst in the twilight of his career.
Uncle Tommy relives some of his historic memories on football pitches that propelled him to be awarded the sacred gold medal by the South African sport authorities after featuring for a combined Bantu Eleven in Johannesburg.
TSUMEB – Born Thomas Uushona in Namibia’s chief harbour town Walvis-Bay in 1943, Uncle Tommy became known for his unbelievable speed and uncanny dribbling technique passing defenders with relative ease at full speed.
It was common to watch panicking defenders back paddling whenever the speedster embarked on his darting runs down the right flank.
Although he was destined for the bigger stage during his time at local giants Blue Waters Football Club, Tommy rose to prominence when he featured for the regional coastal side.
Spotted by regional selectors, he was duly rewarded with inclusion in the star studded Coastal Invitational Eleven for exhibition matches against their Central counterparts.
And what was initially meant to be a temporary escapade, eventually turned into agony for both Namib Woestyn and Blue Waters as the majority of their playing personnel in the invitational side resolved to sever ties with their respective clubs – leading to the unavoidable establishment of Eleven Arrows FC in 1963.
The Central side also followed suit and call into life the star studded Katutura outfit Explorer Eleven under the stewardship of tricky forward Wherrick Zimmer-Goreseb and the football crazy Kariko siblings.
Uncle Tommy formed a devastating partnership with fellow defectors Heinrich Horongo Haufiku, Gabes “Flying Fish” Mupupa feeding on great supply through the bow legged midfield genius Amos “Nangi Watch” Nickel.
The gold and maroon outfit became the toast of domestic football - mesmerizing opposing teams in the then popular knockout cup tourneys across the length and width of the country.
And it so happened that any representative football team without the name of Uncle Tommy Uushona inked on it would be considered incomplete.
Uncle Tommy was amongst a galaxy of local footballers that toured South Africa by rail to compete in marathon exhibition matches against Provincial sides across the Orange River.
“It was quite an experience and we really enjoyed every single moment of it. We did fairly well and won most of our games by large margins.”
Such was his near faultless display that Uncle Tommy was selected for a combined Provincial side whereupon he was presented with a gold medal for his achievements.
Tommy and light skinned lanky shot stopper Eddy Cloete were the only members from the South West Africa (SWA) Bantu Eleven that were selected to feature for the combined South African Bantu Eleven. The only other local athlete to be bestowed with such a high profile accolade was the late rugby icon Jan Ellis. May his soul rest in peace. “We played against a South African Invitational side made up of coloureds and Indians and I must have done quite well to be voted best player of the match.”
Upon the team’s return from South Africa, Uncle Tommy became a much sought after commodity in domestic football and in the absence of proper league structures, the speedy winger would occasionally turn out for Katutura outfit Black Africa as a guest player.
He also had a brief stint with Donkerhoek outfit Tigers FC in the late 70s and though the veteran forward was getting a bit long in the tooth, Uncle Tommy still had some gas left in the legs and was always a marvel to watch.
In the meantime, the football crazy speedy winger rewrote the history books when he relocated to Tsumeb to rejoin Nomtsoub outfit Benfica Football Club where he teamed up with the trident of his football playing sons Daddy, Packs and Lovey.
The telepathic partnership of the deadly Uushona quartet became the mainstay of “Fica” as the team entertained football fans in the domestic football league. “I was actually a founding member of Makalani FC before the club underwent a name change to Benfica FC.”
Uncle Tommy retreated to his hometown (Walvis Bay) to be reunited with boyhood team Blue Waters FC in an effort to wind off his extended football career.
He singles out Namib Woestyn hard tackling defender Alex “Alabi” Cloete and the Black Africa pair of Benjamin “Spokes” Tibinyane and Joseph “Malaka” Somseb as his most difficult opponents.
“It should be noted that there were no financial returns for all our efforts during our playing days but the game was very competitive and fun. We played for the love of the game. I must admit I really enjoyed the commitment and competitive edge of many teams in the popular knockout cup tournaments – notably the annual Ethel Trader Cup.”