Ex-football star now oversees uranium production

Gottlieb Nakuta (left) and Jamu Ngatjizeko in action during a Brave Warriors training session in 2011. Photo: Helge Schütz

It is rare to find a football player who only played for one team throughout his football career, but former Blue Waters and Brave Warriors defender Gottlieb Nakuta is one such player.

Born and raised at Walvis Bay, he joined the ‘Beautiful Birds’, as Blue Waters are affectionately known, in 2003 and spent his entire playing career with the harbour town giants until he finally hung up his boots in 2018.

“As a young boy, I started playing for my neighbourhood team which was known as Kaizer Chiefs during my primary school years at the age of nine in 1995. We played in the ‘Bundesliga’, which was just an unofficial social league for the youth,” Nakuta says.

“I joined Blue Birds in 1999, which was a feeder team for Blue Waters, comprising players under the age of 15. The team was initially started by Linus Shekuyele and Charlie Davids, but later on coach Lucky Shipanga took over.”

Nakuta started off as goalkeeper, but later converted to fullback before he finally established himself as one of the Namibian Premier League’s most sought-after central defenders with Blue Waters.

“Three years after joining Blue Birds, coach Shipanga, himself a prominent player for Blue Waters, felt that I was ready for the premier league and I was promoted to the Blue Waters first team 2003. I was so excited because we won the league that same year,” Nakuta says.

“Our league title success was followed by the coveted NFA Cup in the next year and we added the Christmas Cup to our collection. But as fate would dictate, we got relegated in 2009, but we bounced back immediately to the premier league the following year.”

Nakuta says he hated losing.

“Sometimes I even ended up crying. That is why I would run my socks off as captain of my beloved Blue Waters. I was very passionate about the game, and my team and I led by example,” he says.

Nakuta’s hard work was rewarded with call-ups to the under-17 and under-20 junior national teams, while he was also part of the formidable under-23 side.

He finally got his big break to represent the senior national team when he was given the chance to debut by late Zambian coach Ben Bamfuchile during an international friendly match away to Zimbabwe in Harare in 2006.

“My most memorable match in a Brave Warriors jersey was in 2007 when we played Ethiopia during an African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier. It was crucial. We had to win and we played away from home. We beat our host 2-1 and qualified for the 2008 Afcon in Ghana.

“I enjoyed a successful international career with the Brave Warriors, which saw me playing for my country against countries like Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Zimbabwe among others,” he says.

Former Blue Waters and Brave Warriors no-nonsense defender Gottlieb Nyenge Nafuka is now a processing operator at Rössing Uranium Mine. Photo: Contributed 

Nakuta was not only a footballer during his youth, but also excelled in the 100m, 800m and 1 500m disciplines.

“I enjoyed athletics a lot, and I was one of the fastest sprinters right from primary school to my secondary school years. I used to win a lot and I competed fiercely with Ricardo Pieters, who later became my teammate at Blue Waters in the sprints,” he says.

He says he attended trials at Jomo Cosmos in South Africa, but it did not work out for him.


The former Blue Waters skipper has four children and is employed as a processing operator by Rössing Uranium Mine.

“I am responsible for overseeing various stages of the uranium production process. I monitor equipment, troubleshoot issues, and ensure that safety protocols are followed at all times.

“Additionally I collect samples for analysis, record data and communicate with other team members to optimise production efficiency and meet production targets,” he says.

Nakuta says although he enjoys his job, he finds working shifts challenging as it hinders his exercise routine.

The former defender says he is happy with what he has achieved as a footballer, adding that his father, John Nafuka, had the biggest influence on his football career and was very supportive.

Nakuta is currently playing for the Rössing football team, who are the current champions of the Inter-Mines Tournament.

He says he misses the team talks during team camps and singing the national anthem before international matches.

His advice to young players is to work hard and keep the discipline, “but most importantly, balance your football with education, because we are living in a very tough world that reduces you to nothing without an education”.

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