Within the corridors of the beautiful game of football, goalkeepers are generally handsomely blessed with brilliant athleticism, accompanied by a pinch of flamboyance.
Well, former Red Fire and African Stars Football Clubs acrobatic net-guard, one Gotthardt Kudu Tumuna, was no exception to the above-mentioned description.
The light-skinned Omaruru-born goalie was an interesting character of his own, instilling constant fear in marauding strikers with his imposing figure,and intimidating attitude. His heroics between the sticks earned him the respect of his teammates and opposition alike during an unfortunately prematurely abbreviated playing career.
New Era Sport caught up with the humorous retired last line of defence as he relives his amazing football journey, including some unbelievable tales on how his team Red Fire often wangled their way past their more superior opponents.
< Carlos “CK” Kambaekua
orn in Omaruru on 6 October 1953, Kudu grew up and schooled in his birthplace. Like many other boys his age, he was football-crazy and started kicking around a tennis ball in the dusty streets of the Ozondje residential area for natives. However, it was not until he relocated to the coastal town of Walvis Bay in search of greener pastures that Kudu started playing competitive football. In his own words, when he arrived in Walvis Bay as a young man trying to find his feet, there were only four decent teams in the town, namely Blue Waters, Eleven Arrows, Explorer Eleven and Namib Woestyn.
“Truth be told, I was fascinated by the attractive playing style of Arrows. They had a very well-balanced squad with greats, fronted by Gabes “Flying Fish” Mupupa, Tommy Uushona, Linus “Bossie” Samaria, Ben Tembo, Heinrich Horongo Haufiku, Amos Nangi Nickel, Lukas Aupapa Hipondoka, Sabatha Kaningire, Killa Samaria and a few others,” recalls Kudu. Although many came to know him as the acrobatic goalkeeper, Kudu actually started out in midfield for the maroon and gold strip Kuisebmund outfit’s development team (second-strings). “I vividly remember our tough battle against Orlando Pirates in the annual Joko Tea Floating Trophy in Keetmanshoop, and we were leading one-zero in a closely-contested encounter.
“Arrows were attacking vigorously, recklessly throwing as many bodies in the firing line, searching to kill off the game. I was left alone in our own half and when Pirates countered, I committed a terrible error from a clearance and misdirected the ball past our goalkeeper Tembo for an own goal (1-1).
“Eish...Tommy (Uushona), gave me a thorough tongue-lashing, but I kept my head up. From the resultant restart, I received a gorgeous throughpass from Bro Gabes (Mupupa) and let fly with a powerful long- range screamer. The flying ball kissed the roof of the net, leaving the Ghosts’ agile keeper Abel Nero catching flies. “And guess what? All my teammates took the jubilation a bit too far, suffocating me with their overboard celebrations. I could not breath properly afterwards and had to leave the field dizzy-eyed. Luckily, it happened in the dying minutes of the match”. In later years, Kudu teamed up with fellow Compound tenants to form their own team, leading to the unavoidable resurrection of Red Fire Football Club. “We always got a lot of stick from the local boys, who looked down on us and calling us unpleasant, derogatory names because we were living in the men’s single quarters. Just because we were newcomers, we were basically considered uncivilised and in dire need of some sort of refinement”. “So, we decided to have an institution where we could feel a sense of belonging. It was resolved to revive Red Fire, a predominantly Ovaherero-speaking but defunct football team that was previously established in 1961. It was a good group of enthusiastic young men who hailed from Omaruru, Otjimbingwe and the Otjituuo districts to work in the fish-processing factories. The sport-crazy blokes often doubled as boxers as their daily practice sessions consisted of some serious drills, including running on the dunes and engaging in tough sparring sessions in the boxing ring. By this time, Kudu had shifted to between the sticks, and was the designated number one shot- stopper of the new kid on the block (Red Fire).
Kudu’s impressive performances between the sticks did not escape the eyes of regional selectors. He was duly selected to represent the Western Invitational Eleven against the visiting Kaizer Chiefs in 1976. There were three goalkeepers in the travelling entourage, namely Bonettie Niilenge, Eddy Cloete and Kudu. Each one of the three goalies conceded a goal apiece during their turn in the Westerners 3-0 defeat.
Some of his teammates in the Red Fire squad were Bobby Kazondandona, Ben Tumuna, Josephat Tjikumbaize, Jomo Nakanene, Steve Muheua, Karakura Katjita, Mannetjie Tjikune, Body Tjihozu, Kalokie Muriua, Jansen Mbakunguna, Eazy “Brown Bomber” Tjahikika, Seadog Kuhanga, Hijandama Tjahikika, Lucky Kasu, Isaak “Fish” Kahatjipara, Ebson Kazondjandja and Kandonga. “We assembled a fairly competitive squad, but always found the going tough against Blue Waters. I can easily recall one funny incident where we reached a knockout cup final against Omeya, sponsored by former Blue Waters’ defender Freddy Bratha”. “Eish.....out of the blue, one of the team’s leaders, the late Isaac Kahundju Fish Kahatjipara, came up with a “magical” trick. He ordered all the players to rock up at the field fully attired in suits.
The cunning Kahatjipara informed the organisers that the team is disbanded and no longer exists....thus demanding that the money be shared equally between the two finalists. Despite heavy protests from the unhappy Blue Waters players and supporters, Red Fire would not budge and dug their heels in the sand until the prize was eventually shared”.
“We had a few dangerous non-playing elements in our midst, whose primary duty was to disrupt matches whenever results were not going our way. The likes of Ngundundu, Kahoni and Jimmy Ketupa were feared troublemakers. The latter always wore his traditional black
hat, and carried his sharpened Okapi, concealed in his pair of socks”.
Kudu relocated to the city of bright lights (Windhoek) in later years to join forces with ambitious Katutura OD side Flames. After a few matches for the gold and green strip outfit, Katutura glamour football club African Stars found themselves lean in the goalkeeping department, and turned their attention to the agile light-skinned shot-stopper.
Kudu did not need a second invitation as he grabbed the opportunity with both hands and kept goal for “Starlile” with great aplomb, until the inevitable arrival of young acrobatic net-guard Asaria Ndjiva Kauami, and as they say, the rest is history.