The football-obsessed institution popularly known as Dobra (St Joseph’s Secondary School) has without a shadow of doubt produced the finest footballers that graced football pitches across the length and width of then South West Africa (SWA) now Namibia, back in the day.
Those in the know dubbed it and rightly so, the undisputed school of football excellence.
The likes of Spokes Tibinyane, Gabes Dausab, Steve Stephanus, Linus Gariseb, Pius Eigowab, Blue Karimbue, Five Hochobeb, Oscar Mengo, Hannes Louw, Orlando Damaseb, Daito Hagedoorn, Ben Kauejao, Karirii Katire, Axarob Doeseb, Straal Auchumeb, Kandas Paulino, Rusten Mogane, Ambrossius Vyff, Stu Damaseb, George Martin, Samani Kamerika, Barry Mwefi, Albert Tjihero, Hassie Mingeri all learned their trade at this incredible institution under the shrewd stewardship of Willem Hans.
One such gifted athlete, to whom the game of football owes a huge debt of gratitude and some sort of acknowledgement, is forgotten flying winger Johannes Hans.
The retired Flames, Pirates (Dolam) and Black Africa football clubs speedy winger entertains us with tales of those thrilling times gracing gravel pitches across the country. The football journey of John is the dream of every football-loving person.
n Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa
WINDHOEK – Born Johannes Hans in Windhoek’s old location on the 10th of October 1950, John, as he is affectionately known amongst his circle of friends, grew up in the rocky streets of old location before he relocated to Dobra, north-east of Namibia’s commercial capital Windhoek in 1957.
He was one of four football crazy Hans brothers, spearheaded by elder brother Willem while younger brothers Mickey and Arnold also played the game with a certain measure of competence during their formative years at Dobra.
At Dobra, young John developed interest in football and like all the other boys his age at the school hostel, and the pocket-sized winger would play football at any given time alongside boyhood buddies Claude Kaumbiriki Katuamba, Joseph Pritzer, Primus Hango, Jacob Shilume and Barnabas Tjkuzu, amongst others.
“We were very naughty and quite energetic. As young boys, we formed a gang called ‘Kleine Bende’ and later started a boxing club with Fanuel Tjingaete.
“You won’t believe it, but in the absence of sport equipment – we were obliged to fight bare-knuckled in the name of sport …..”( laughs!!.) “Most participants would rock up at classrooms with heavily swollen lips including an assortment of cuts to their faces.”
In between boxing, John would play football for hostel team Sorento Bucks. “We assembled a great team and had the likes of Willy Karirii Katire, Mike Hans, Joe Murangi, Oscar Mengo and Kamaruru ‘Buddy’ Muinjangue in the team’s star-studded line-up.
Football side, John was a noted political activist and played his apart during the much-despised national Bantu schools strike in 1970. “We smuggled blankets out of the hostel for the protesters – much to the chagrin of authorities, the ‘Bowker Boys.’”
As it turned out, John was amongst very few brothers playing in the same football team and was instrumental in the all-conquering Dobra football side’s upsurge in the late 60’s and mid-70’s - forming a telepathic combination with elder brother, the enterprising Willem and younger brother, speedy winger Mickey, on the opposite flank.
The devastating Hans combination propelled Dobra to be hailed the most complete football team in the business. Ironically, there were no properly organized football leagues resulting in footballers moving freely between clubs as they wished back in the day.
It’s a well-documented secret that Dobra was the official feeder to Katutura giants Black Africa FC but such was the competition that some of the products from Dobra would unfortunately find themselves outside the scope.
Unlike many of his peers who started in the school’s reserves, John walked straight into the school’s (Dobra) first team and became an instant hit amongst his more celebrated teammates.
Living up to its tag, “the school of excellence”, Dobra supplied the bulk of footballers to the big teams across the country. John got his first test of club football with the newly formed ambitious Katutura outfit Flames FC.
“I was persuaded by my school mates Oscar and Kariirii to join Flames and since one did not require clearance or permission from your team – I was able to feature for Flames during off weekends. The squad was well balanced with a mixture of highly gifted young footballers and experienced players.”
Flames assembled a very competitive squad that included lanky defender Asser Mbai, Albert Louw, Kauru Bilhawer, Hassie Mingeri, Andehe Haimbodi, Simon Naujoma, Paul Kaurimuje, Leviticus “Karretjie” Hindjou, George Kongunja Kasuto, Abe Katire Tepa Muriua and many others.
John’s electrifying exploits down the right wing steered Flames to the final of a knockout cup tournament in Keetmanshoop, where the gold and green strip outfit came up against Orlando Pirates but the match ended in chaos when the Lemmy Narib-inspired Buccaneers disrupted proceedings after sensing defeat halfway through the match.
In the meantime, John would team up with younger brother Mickey, turning out for the notorious Dolam outfit Pirates FC. However, the old adage that blood is thicker than water played her hand as the fast galloping winger resurfaced at boyhood team Black Africa.
He played an instrumental role when the star-studded Apollo Eleven (Dobra) humbled a combination of African Stars and Orlando Pirates Invitational Eleven in a knockout cup tourney at the Nau-Aib field in Okahandja, scoring the winning goal in the 3-2 triumph.
“During our time, the game used to be very exciting despite playing under harsh conditions such as unlevelled gravel playing fields, heavy balls, unspecified diet, challenging travelling, sub-standard accommodation and all that jazz, but we managed to weather the storm.
“Up to this day, I still cherish my days on the football fields, notably playing for Dobra. We were unbeaten in almost all our encounters against the likes of Martin Luther, Augustineum, Welwitschias – you name them, while very few established clubs could hardly match us pound for pound in many of our confrontations.”
In conclusion, the humorous retired winger recalls one particular match when Dobra tasted a rare defeat. “We lost in the final against Welwitschias in Khorixas through a howler by our goalkeeper Joseph ‘Kalm’ Khiba. He conceded a silly penalty, which in the end proved costly.”
Nowadays a self-employed qualified motor mechanic, John holds the pair of African Stars’ stalwarts, the late Justus Kaika Kuzee and Kierie Tjituaiza in high esteem.
“My broer, that man (Kaika) was a football monster, something out of this world, a tireless phenomenal footballer with a great first touch, strong and blessed with an unbelievable big engine.”
With sporting genes flowing freely in the football-obsessed Hans family, elder son Bolle Hans-Hambira was also a noted winger for both Civics and boyhood team African Stars in the country’s flagship football league, while his look-alike daughter Patricia and younger son Horst are both formidable hockey players in their own right.