Tribute to a departed ‘Bird’, Bernhardt ‘Da Costa’ Philemon 1951– 1988
Departed Blue Waters Football Club attacking midfielder Bernard ‘Da Costa’ Philemon was arguably one of the most underrated footballers this country has ever unearthed. And although the late pale hide Da Costa was born in Walvis Bay in 1951, he grew up in Tsumeb, but the strongly built midfielder never featured for any of the local clubs in the copper town as he started his amazing football career at boyhood team Blue Waters Football Club. In later years, the rock star lookalikea Da Costa relocated to the place of his birth whilst still a young man barely out of his pair of shorts, joining forces with the ‘Beautiful Birds’ in the late sixties. Unlike many of his peers who started their football journey in the Birds’ second strings, the handsome midfielder walked straight into Omeya’s starting line-up where he in no time established himself as a vital cog in the Birds’ engine room. In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sports feature, detailing the unrevealed journey of retired athletes, New Era Sport pays tribute to one of the most unsung football heroes, as we go toe to toe with Da Costa’s unfulfilled football journey. Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa Walvis Bay-Back in the day, during the height of apartheid in the then South West Africa (SWA), light-skinned black people were regarded superior to their darkish hide counterparts even if they were descendants from the same tribe. This nauseating notion was instilled in the minds of Bantus by the evil apartheid authorities, even going to the length of giving light-skinned employees preferential treatment over their own kith and kin within the workplace. They would always get installed as foremen (supervisors) to run an eye over their fellow Bantu folks while receiving better salaries than those with dark skins. This misplaced perception would trickle down to social gatherings amongst the black folk in recreational associations such as the beautiful game of football and many other aspects in the daily life of blacks. Ironically, footballers of light complexion would always be a mile ahead of the darkish hide counterparts and would be justifiably treated with admiration by their teammates, fans and the opposition alike. Almost each and every football club in the business had a light-skinned squad member in their midst and they were all exceptional athletes in their own right. The country’s oldest football club Tigers had Purikie Foster in their armoury, Cape Cross (Wherrick Zimmer-Goraseb), African Stars (Mike Pack and Epson Kapuire), Orlando Pirates (Michael ‘Ou Pine’ Pienaar, Thomas Losper, Gustav ‘Bassieman’ Jimmy-Naruseb), Eleven Arrows (Freek Samaria), Namib Woestyn (Laurentius ‘Daito’ Hagedoorn) but none was more popular than the Portuguese-looking pair of Purikie and Blue Waters attacking midfielder Bernard ‘Da Costa’ Philemon. The pair wore the same resemblance and had identical playing style but worse still, their precious lives were both mysteriously abbreviated while still at the pinnacle of their flourishing football careers. Coastal side Blue Waters are well known for their unique smooth sailing playing style, which has characterised the club’s history up to the modern day. In the early seventies, Katutura giants Orlando Pirates dominated football in several knockout tournaments to the extent that the black and white strip outfit almost ran out of decent opponents – winning almost every available trophy on offer. However, the unavoidable emergence of Da Costa Philemon’s inspired youthful Blue Waters side would change the landscape – bringing a premature end to the Ghosts’ dominance. The Birds were playing the finest brand of football in the business and thousands would flock en masse to the old Katutura football field to follow the Birds whenever the seasiders touched down in the capital. Da Costa was your typical modern day box-to-box midfielder - covering every blade of grass while making it a habit of registering his name on the score sheet at regular intervals. Blessed with great pace and excellent first touch, the Elvis Presley lookalike Blue Waters playmaker captured the imagination of neutral football fans with his unmatched endurance and unbelievable football virtuosity second to none. His presence in the Birds’ engine room provided stability, allowing his teammates to attack the opposition without fear of leaving themselves exposed at the back. The energetic Da Costa was deployed as a lone midfielder during the days of the outdated primitive four-one-five playing format and would operate between the defenders and forwards with astonishing aplomb. Da Costa was an invaluable squad member of the star-studded Western Invitational Eleven where he pulled strings in the middle of the park alongside the legendary Nangi ‘Watch’ Nickel, Axarob Doeseb, Haban Adams, Edy Cloete and Laurentius ‘Daito’ Hagedoorn amongst a horde of highly gifted footballers from that neck of the woods. Sadly, the adorable midfielder took a bow from the game of life at the fairly young age of 37 while still at the pinnacle of his blossoming football career. A highly gifted athlete, Da Costa passed away in Tsumeb in 1988. He was laid to rest at his home village Oshigambo in the Oshikoto Region. May his soul rest in eternal peace, in one piece.
New Era Reporter
2018-03-02 10:19:58 11 months ago