Having made just one appearance for the Brave Warriors in an international friendly against tiny Lesotho in Maseru in 1997 – retired Tigers Football Club skillful attacking midfielder Alele Kapule must be considered unfortunate not to have added to his single cap for the national senior football team, the Brave Warriors.
And of course, that did not stop him from cementing his place in Ingwe’s starting line-up as he pulled the strings in the engine room becoming the darling of the club’s diehards
Alele was hailed as the natural successor to the departing Dale Stephanus in terms of skill, dribbling and above all, endurance second to none. A phenomenal ball carrier, your typical modern day box-to-box midfielder, he was blessed with a breathtaking first touch complemented by accurate passes and amazing vision.
New Era Sport brings to you, our esteemed reader, the untold football journey of one of the finest footballers this country has ever unearthed.
WINDHOEK – A product of the vastly populated Donkerhoek residential area holed up on the southern outskirts of the country’s largest township Katutura, Nathaniel Alele Kapule was born in Namibia’s commercial capital Windhoek on the 13th of May 1969.
Like many other boys his age, young Alele started his engagement with the spherical object by regularly kicking old tennis balls in the dusty streets of his neighbourhood.
He got his big break in a competitive environment when he was selected to represent his native land at the prestigious annual South African Provincial Youth Currie Cup for the South West Africa (SWA) Under 13 football side in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1986.
Alele subsequently rose to prominence after he joined local side African Blizzards FC campaigning in the highly competitive Central Football Association (CFA) second tier division.
“Football was very competitive in those days – it was a great honour for every aspiring young footballer to set your feet at the now revamped ‘Grassy Park’ (Okahozu) nowadays known as Sam Nujoma Stadium,” recalls Alele.
After two seasons with the youthful Blizzards outfit, aged just 19 and hardly out of his pair of shorts, the attacking midfielder was lured to the Tigers cage. And unlike many of his peers who started in the team’s second strings, Alele walked straight into Ingwe’s first team.
In no time, the Tigers number 7 endeared himself into the hearts of the club’s usually hard-to-please followers as he bamboozled defenders with his zigzagging style of play - leaving defenders for dead before delivering the decisive killer pass to his free-scoring forwards.
With the old guard spearheaded by strongly built defensive midfielder Hofney “Grey” Umati, Abnery Tobias, Silas Wangaa Nujoma, Sekulu “Superstar” Hipondoka, Scalla Shaanika, Isaac Brown Amwenye, Tommy “Ombuka Joutjie” Schmidt, all entering the twilight of their football careers, Tigers embarked on an aggressive rebuilding campaign that saw a significant number of gifted youngsters gradually introduced to the tough and demanding rigours of topflight football.
Alele was amongst few youngsters brought in to strengthen and revamp the ageing squad alongside hard tackling fullback Bricks Hangula, Tiwi Kaundje and Foresta Nicodemus.
“We were somehow very lucky in the sense that some of the experienced squad members were still playing competitively led by Mentos Hipondoka, Bandike Ochurub, Kumi Umati, Issy Naruseb, Pule. I vividly remember that uncle Grey (Umati) was the head coach assisted by the late Vic Lovell.” Back in the day, local footballers would model their game on their South African and Brazilian idols and as this was not enough – they would be re-baptized to fit the bill.
The most common names that spring to mind are Jomo, Ace, Chippa, Pele, Wire, Jairzinho, Tostao, Garrincha, Teenage, Platini, Maria-Maria, The Horse, Bazooka, Kalamazoo, Malombo, Pro and Shakes. So it was only fair that Alele would be perfectly re-christened “Zico” by his teammates and his hundreds of adoring fans. The name was derived from the silky Brazilian number 10, Zico.
The cool headed young midfielder did not take long to establish himself as a vital cog in Ingwe’s long overdue march to stardom, bossing the midfield alongside Gerson “Slow “Poison” Gowaseb and Lucky Iyambo.
He would go on to lay his hands on multiple accolades including the coveted Namibia Football Association (NFA) Cup including the much sought after Metropolitan Trophy.
“The late Vic Lovell brought a new dimension to our style of play. He taught us the basics of playing one-touch football and we somehow managed to combine natural skill with basics.”
Fortunately, the new arrivals started to gel with the old guard as can be attested by the sudden change of fortunes, winning back-to-back NFA Cups at the expense of Black Africa and bitter rivals Blue Waters in 1996 and 1997.
Zico was instrumental when Ingwe dispatched the star-studded Nau-Aib (Okahandja) outfit Liverpool Football Club by a solitary goal (1-0) in a tightly contested final of the popular Metropolitan Cup.
Despite missing out on international football with the senior national team, the Brave Warriors, the skillful playmaker could take some consolation as he proudly represented his country at club level playing for his beloved Ingwe in the Continental CAF Club Cup Winners Competition.
“It was a good learning curve for us playing against old time campaigners from Swaziland, Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Conge (DRC) and even though we failed to reach the knockout stages – we learned quite a lot about the finer points of the game.”
It’s very rare nowadays to find a midfielder that guarantees you at least 10 goals per season but Zico was in that bracket.
He regards former Eleven Arrows and Black Africa Football Club pocket-sized midfield kingpin Bobby “Little Corporal” Samaria as his most difficult opponent during his playing days while Black Africa were the team to beat.
“Without a shadow of doubt, my all time favourite footballer was the late Helmuth ‘Teenage’ Iyambo. That boy was a genius and could do anything with a ball glued to his feet.
“Sadly, he was taken away from us whilst still at the pinnacle of his blossoming football career – may his soul rest in peace,” concluded the midfield general.
2018-10-26 10:16:10 6 months ago