President Hage Geingob yesterday led a wave of tributes to veteran sports administrator, Eliphas ‘Oupapa’ Shipanga, who died on Tuesday in a Windhoek hospital at the age of 62 following a suspected heart attack.
The late Shipanga, a former secretary general of the Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) and formed part of the first committee that drafted the Namibia Sport Act for the Namibia Sport Commission (NSC), was yesterday remembered as a selfless servant of local sport and as someone who hard Namibia’s overall development agenda at heart.
In a statement released yesterday, Geingob described the late Shipanga as a veteran administrator whose outstanding contribution towards the development of local sports will be remembered for years to come.
Sending his condolences to the family of the departed Shipanga, the Head of State said: “I have learned with sadness about the passing of Eliphas Oupapa Shipanga. A former footballer and sports administrator, Oupapa, as he was affectionately known, chose sports because of the power of sports in the process of nation-building. In that vein, he did not only bring Namibians of different walks of life together, but he also made immense contributions to the development of sport in our country. We will remember him for his passion and outstanding leadership in the administration of football and sports in general. Indeed, his departure is a great loss to his family, the sports fraternity and Namibia in general. On behalf of government and all Namibians, I wish to convey deepest sympathies to the widow, Hendrina Shipanga, the children and the entire family during this difficult period of bereavement.”
Also paying tribute yesterday was sports minister Agnes Tjongarero, who was then president of the NNOC during Shipanga’s time as secretary general of the organisation. Tjongarero remembered Shipanga as a hardworking and dedicated man of sport, saying his contributing towards shaping the policy and administrative direction of the NNOC into a renowned entity is unmeasurable.
“I worked closely with him during my years at the NNOC as I was the president and he was the secretary general, he was my right-hand person always guiding me on crucial policy and administration matters. He really contributed hugely to the NNOC becoming the institution that it is today. He was dedicated, smart and a hard worker.
He was honest too, as his president, he would at times tell me straight to my face if he does not agree with a particular decision that I have made, and that’s very rare to find.
Namibia has not only lost a true and professional sports veteran, but the country as a whole has lost a visionary leader and someone who had the country’s best interest at heart and mind. I’m really devastated,” said Tjongarero.
The late Shipanga, who was also CEO of the Maltahöhe Village Council, also over the years served as Namibia Football Association (NFA) secretary general, as chairperson of the Namibia Premier League (NPL), as board member of the now-defunct Namibia Sports Council, which is now known as the NSC.
Shipanga was also team manager of the Brave Warriors in the ’90s and will remain an unforgettable great for coastal giants Blue Waters Sports Club.
The NFA yesterday also released a statement paying tribute to Shipanga, saying: “He was a true servant of the game of football and represented the country brilliantly, the NFA is highly indebted to him for his selfless contribution. The NFA and the entire football family, wish to convey our deepest sympathies and condolences to the entire Shipanga family, Blue Waters and friends.”
Renowned local sports pundit, Isack Hamata, also paid homage to the departed: “He has gone through the entire sports value chain from a player at club level to the national team (eSwatini), club coach, national team manage…there are just no words to describe the death of this man, the epitome of Namibian sport. Eliphas Shaningua Shipanga aka Bazooka or Aupapa has gone to join his maker but he leaves a void here on earth. A man with a wealth of experience in sports administration and someone who was ever so eager to share his knowledge. And of course, he had a mind of his own, sometimes coming across as arrogant or boastful. But that is who he was, we remember him for his contribution to sports. In late 1991, he organised a tour of Swazi club, Manzini Wanderers, to play friendly matches against Blue Waters and African Stars in Windhoek. It was one of the first foreign clubs to visit Namibia after independence.”