Back in the day, the then newly built town of Arandis, holed up in the Namib Desert was the preferred destination for many unemployed young locals in search of pastures green, fleeing from their traditional habitats to better their lifestyle in the new mining town.
The new hub offered a wide range of lucrative opportunities for dozens of school leavers unable to find suitable employment in their respective towns of origin and many sought and found refuge at the uranium mining town, sandwiched between Swakopmund and Usakos in the vast Erongo region. A new town with new inhabitants from different cultural backgrounds, it was imperative that the populace would find common ground to mingle freely and get to know each other in the most dignified fashion.
The only way to gel was through recreational mingling – hence the unavoidable formation of football teams, which led to the birth of sporting entities such as Kaizer Chiefs and Sorento Bucks. And as it turned out, two particular teams became bitter rivals for supremacy in pursuit of the town’s bragging rights. In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sport feature, Tales of the Legends, New Era Sport brings to you our esteemed reader, the untold football journey of one of the most recognizable colourful characters in domestic football, one Fending Glay. The pocket-sized attacking midfielder also enjoyed a stellar career with exciting Kuisebmond outfit Namib Woestyn Football Club, before a career-ending knee injury curtailed his amazing football career.
WINDHOEK – The year 1976 will be best remembered as the year when Rössing Uranium Mine, Namibia’s commercial uranium mine, began operations, starting with production, providing 8.4 percent of the world’s oxide output with a capacity of 4,500 tonnes of uranium oxide per year.
The uranium mine became the chief supplier of employment for the fast growing town’s inhabitants with government chipping in with learning institutions, health care facilities and a police station amongst other public facilities.
The mine also played an important role in the area of social responsibilities by erecting state-of-the-art recreational facilities including a lawn football field fitted with cloakrooms and stands.
Like in many other towns across the length and breadth of the country, football was the in-thing and many young footballers were lured to the emerging hub as the town not only offered employment with decent salaries but top of the range sport facilities.
The mine became famous for producing one of the finest football teams during the popular biannual Inter Mines Multisport Games.
The untouchable Rössing Uranium football squad boasted stars such as Frank Fredericks, Koko Muatunga, Malcolm Hendricks, Jackson Meroro, Kaboy Shovaleka, Ben Gonteb, Kleintjie Gaseb, Hare Carew, Lucky Boostander, Kantori Paulino, Patrick Basson and many others.
Born in Otjiwarongo in 1954, the immaculately dressed pocket-sized attacking midfielder started his football with unfashionable youthful outfit Rocco Chiefs Football Club, a feeder of Black Marroco Chiefs (BMC) back in his hometown.
However, there was a sad ending to his flirtation with football when the team folded after the tragic death of former Life Fighters and Flames FC lethal goal poacher Tepa Murirua. The latter met his death inflicted through a fatal knife attack during a knockout tournament in Otjiwarongo.
“Eish…one of our players stabbed the deceased with a sharp knife, an unfortunate fatal incident that left many team members devastated. The team folded afterwards and I decided to leave town and find new shelter far away from home where I could find solace and gradually deal with that unpleasant episode,” relates Fenn, nowadays a fully-fledged Rastaman.
Fenn resurfaced in Arandis and was founder member of exciting local outfit Kaizer Chiefs Football Club. The afro-haired stocky playmaker was the toast of the club’s followers with his trademark dribbling skills and flamboyance on the football field.
Amongst his teammates were the garden town pair of Noabeb brothers Tswana and Mike (Migub) formerly with Nau-Aib outfit Battle Boys Football Club, Jacob Tsaeb, Garrincha Haraseb and many other young footballers.
At times, he would pull out amazing tricks with ball glued to his tiny feet, never mind the score line whether the team was trailing or in danger of losing the match.
Off the field, bro Fenn was the main man about town, an elegant dresser and the king of the newly introduced bell-bottoms trousers – the in-thing at the time. Bro Finn is well remembered for his colourful bright multi-striped pair of trousers.
Because of its somewhat awkward geographic layout, football teams from Arandis could not easily partake in any of the competitive regional leagues – leaving them to be only confined to low-key knockout cup competitions, mostly in nearby towns such as Usakos, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Karibib, Omaruru, Okahandja, Outjo, Uis and Khorixas.
Perfectly christened after South African glamour football club Kaizer Chiefs, the Arandis outfit shares the same gold and black strip and logo of the Soweto giants whilst copying their playing style of their more celebrated role models.
The team had a huge following, drawing large crowds to their matches wherever they played with their exciting brand of entertaining football.
“We competed fiercely in the domestic Rössing Mine football league against the likes of Sorento Bucks, Subs and Rössing Stars,” recalls the ageing Fenn.
“The rivalry between Chiefs and Sorento Bucks was very tense because both teams were modelled on the same ideals as Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.”
Fenn regards former Dobra and Golden Bees box-to-box midfielder Samani Kamerika as his most difficult opponent and still has fond memories of the intensively contested local derbies between his beloved Chiefs and Bucks.
The Chiefs’ blue-eyed boy sprung a surprise when he left the club he helped build into a household name in domestic football to join forces with Kuisebmond outfit Namib Woestyn in 1984.
A fitness fanatic, the skinny attacker enjoyed a stellar spell with the Desert Boys before a career-ending knee injury sadly abbreviated any further flirtation with the spherical object in 1988, whist still at the pinnacle of his flourishing football career.
The adorable stylish attacker is still a bachelor and father to seven offspring – three sons and four daughters. He might not have enjoyed the same attention as his more celebrated peers in the city of bright lights but Namibia remains greatly indebted to Fenn Glay.
The Orwetoveni-born lad was a real entertainer and his name will go down in history as one of those elegant athletes who made hundreds of people squeeze their frames through the turnstiles.