For many, he is the well-spoken and energetic Kaisames radio station sports anchor but in real life, Ricardo Garoeb, famously known as ‘Uncle Happiness’, used to be a magical baller of note. New Era Sport caught up with the likeable popular socialite as he goes full throttle reliving his untold football journey, and how being harshly elbowed out of his job almost drove him to suicide.
Born Ricardo Garoeb on 24 March 1986 in Fransfontein, the youngster grew up in his birthplace and started his primary education at the Frans Fredericks Primary School before he upgraded to the famous Welwitschia Junior Secondary School in Khorixas.
Although he started chasing leather at a very young age back in his hometown, the boy from Fransfontein was thrown into the lion’s den when he made his senior debut for local club Barcelona at the tender age of 14, hardly out of his pair of shorts.
The young midfielder did not disappoint, and grabbed the chance with both hands as he fashioned some eye-catching performances way belying his tender age. Some of his celebrated teammates were Henzil Subeb and Ricky Naruseb.
His impressive performances caught the eye of talent scouts from Outjo outfit Golden Bees. He would be shipped in from Khorixas to feature as a guest player for Golden Bees in the popular knockout cup tourneys, rubbing shoulders with greats Bradley Francis, Tico Haraeb and Harald Haimbodi.
“My mentor, the late school principal Ben Xamiseb, tried to convince me to relocate to Tsumeb and join Chief Santos, but my old lady would have none of that,” narrated Garoeb.
He finally made his breakthrough in 2004 when he was selected for The Namibian Newspaper Cup shadow team against the Brave Warriors after some splendid showings for the Otjozondjupa regional team.
Garoeb played a blinder when Otjozondjupa reached the quarterfinals of the cup in Oshakati, seeing off Kunene 4-3, only to exit the tourney on penalties against the star-studded Omaheke.
It was a memorable match, marked by end-to-end stuff. Omaheke had a very good squad led by Pat-Nevin Uanivi, Max Mbaeva, Berries Rooi and Denzil Haoseb.
It was time to move up a gear, and the much sought-after midfield kingpin joined Pionierspark outfit Ramblers in the same season.
“It was not easy to break into the starting line-up since the team had great players shepherded by Michael Pienaar, Riaan Cloete, Henna Botes, Jeremiah Mbaisako, Victor Helu, Rudi Louw, Congolese import Bernadine Bilizi, Lazarus Kaimbi and Charley Aoseb, under the stewardship of co-coaches Tollie van Wyk and Dove Fransman.”
The new kid on the block would go on to claim a gold medal in the coveted NFA Cup when Rammies saw off Black Africa 4-3 in a tense penalty shootout after a 2-all stalemate in 2005.
Sadly, he missed out on a lifetime opportunity when he was invited for trials in Portugal after a horrific car accident curtailed his long-held dream of playing professional football.
The accident left him with badly damaged knee ligaments, keeping him out of action for a considerable period. Upon recovery, Garoeb trained with Khomasdal outfit Young Ones under the tutelage of Otto Landsberg. The latter took him to Katutura giants Black Africa, albeit with little success.
His next stop was at Namib Colts in the Khomas second division, where he played alongside Dynamo Fredericks, Petit Steven Gariseb, Sadney Uri-Khob and Emilio ‘Marry-Boy’ Martin-Ipinge.
The team won the league title in the 2012/13 season, only to stumble at the playoffs in Swakopmund for promotion to the national first division.
In 2014, he found employment with Kaisames radio station, and hit the ground running. Tellingly, it was the same year Brazil hosted the Fifa World Cup, and the station was hurriedly looking for auxiliary young vibrant football analysts to stand in for veteran commentator, the late Sagarias Karon, who had taken ill at the time.
“Eish, as a toddler, I grew up mimicking football broadcasting, and was very excited when I learned that Kaisames was searching for football analysts. The late Salat Hoeseb recommended me to station manager Joseph Garab, who offered me a temporary job. I was determined to succeed and worked my way up the ranks,” added the multi-lingual sports anchor. Off air, Garoeb was at the forefront of initiating the birth of the annual NBC Fun Day, which made her debut at the Katutura Youth Complex in 2018. Even though he is no longer in the business of radio broadcasts, Garoeb boasts an impressive résumé, and still cherishes some of the incredible moments that saw him interview high-profile sports personalities in the following sequence: former Portugal international and Liverpool defender Abel Xavier, who also coached the Mozambican national team; well-known football analyst Thomas ‘TK’ Kwenaite; internationally-acclaimed football coach Pitso Mosimane; Irvin ‘Iron Duke’ Khoza; and leading local football agent Colin April.
However, it was not always smooth sailing for the enthusiastic sports anchor as he had to negotiate and wangle his way around many obstacles.
“At first, it was not easy because one encountered lots of challenges in the absence of website facilities from local clubs where one could easily access newsworthy information from the relevant stakeholders.”
He cites the Cosafa Women’s Championship hosted on home soil amongst his top achievements as a radio presenter, apart from masterminding the international transfer of agile shot-stopper Edward Maova.
Garoeb is involved in various social projects in the 8ste Laan informal settlement, funding and managing a soup kitchen for senior citizens from his own pocket, whilst also organising unofficial football tourneys around the city of Windhoek and Hoachanas.
The now self-employed socialite also doubles as MC at major social gatherings, is a big fan of Soweto giants Orlando Pirates, and also supports Barcelona.
On a rather upsetting parting shot, the retired midfielder confessed to this author in a trembling voice how he almost took his precious life after his employment contract was abruptly terminated by Kaisames radio station.
“I felt miserable, and could not picture myself out of the studio for good. I put my kids to bed after watching TV, and started looking for a piece of paper to pen a suicide note. But for some God-sent reason, I could not find one. My live-in partner, who was asleep at the time, suddenly woke up and summoned me to the bedroom as she appeared to have read my mind.”