Former striker now light in darkness for ships 

Alfred Naruseb (kneeling third from right) with the star-studded Namibian u23 national team that hosted the Cosafa u23 tournament in 1991. File photo

Few forwards could instil fear in defenders like former national under-23 team striker Alfred ‘Stro’ Naruseb.

Born and raised at Walvis Bay, Naruseb started playing organised football for the under-14 team of Immanuel Ruiter Primary School at Kuisebmond.

“But it was when I was playing for the under-16 team of Duinesig Primary School when people started seeing my potential. I was very skilful and fast, and I was scoring plenty of goals,” he says.

“We toured Otjiwarongo, Tsumeb and Windhoek with the under-16 team, together with the likes of Eliphas ‘Safile’ Shivute, Dokkies Theodor, Cecil ‘Dahle’ Mutilifa and Ronnie ‘the Magnet’ Kanalelo under coach Britho Shipanga, a former football great during his heyday.”

The former attacker was only 16 when he was drafted into former Namibian Premier League outfit Namib Woestyn’s first team by the team’s former player-coach Eric Benson.

“I was registered as a 20-year-old, because children my age were considered too young to play in the country’s top flight during that time. I was fearless and I made the defenders pull out all the stops to contain me.

“They had to keep their concentration from the opening whistle to the last. Just one slip up and I would score. I enjoyed taking on defenders but I was a careful when I played against bone-crunching tacklers like Lucas Bimbo Tjihero and late Salathiel ‘Asinamali’ Ndjao,” he says.

Naruseb says he did not allow himself to be bullied by anyone on the football pitch.

Woestyn got relegated to the Namibian Western Soccer Union (NWSU) in 1991, but Naruseb, together with his twin striking partner Duban Benson, continued tormenting defenders in the coastal first division, which led to him being called up to the under-23 national team.

“I was in red-hot form at the time, and the junior national team selectors, who rarely called up players from the first division, could not ignore my form, as I even finished top scorer of the 1991 NWSU league and I was deservedly named the league’s player of the season.

“Bobby ‘Last Born’ Samaria convinced me to join their team, because I had to elevate my status after I was called up to the national under-23 team, and the Woestyn management also agreed,” Naruseb says.

Alfred Naruseb with the trophy after winning a veteran’s tournament with Atlantis FC at the coast recently. Photo: contributed

Arrows won the league in 1990 and they were playing in the Confederation of African Football Champions League against their Lesotho counterparts Arsenal.

Naruseb joined them after they were eliminated from the competition by their opponents from Maseru.

The striker then spent the season with Arrows.

Naruseb returned to his beloved Woestyn in 1991, after which he came to Windhoek where he pursued a four-year general electrical engineering course at the Windhoek Vocational Training Centre (WVTC) in Khomasdal.

“I was approached by Orlando Pirates chairman Axab Auchamp to join his Katutura outfit, but former Brave Warriors winger Robert Nauseb, who was playing for Pirates at the time, advised me against joining Pirates because the management wasn’t too serious.

“He told me he was going to Civics and he wanted me to go with him, but I opted for Tigers in 1997, because they had sound management and a very stable team at the time. We ended up losing the NFA Cup final 1-0 to Chief Santos that year,” he says.

Naruseb describes Zimbabwean coach Sheperd ‘Mr Fix It’ Murape as the best coach he has ever played under.

“He taught me about so many aspects of football, particularly about the role of a striker in the team,” he says.

“He said I had strong legs, and he told me how to protect the ball while waiting for my other teammates to link up if I received the ball upfront. He also told me to be confident in my ability to strike for goal when within shooting range.”

Naruseb was drafted to the national team that hosted the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations Under-23 Tournament, which he described as an “exciting but very tough experience”.

WORK, FAMILY

The retired striker has been married to his wife, Veronica, for the past 17 years, and the couple has four children. Naruseb also has five children from previous relationships.

The former player of the season has been employed by NamPort for the last 20 years.

“I am an electrician at NamPort, a job that has given me a comfortable life for 20 years now. I have bought a house at Narraville, and I have the security of a stable family. I am responsible for the maintenance of lighthouses to guarantee a safe passage for ships to dock,” he says.

Although the job is very rewarding, it also comes with its challenges, especially when he must go out at sea to do inspections on lighthouses, he says.

“It can be quite dangerous to go out at night to check if everything is fine. Sometimes the sea is very unfriendly, and I’m using a small boat on my missions. But the job has to be done.

“I have to travel as far as three to four kilometres into the sea,” he says.

Naruseb, who dreams about coaching youngsters one day, is still playing football for the Atlantis FC for players over 50 years while he also plays in the coastal social league for players over-40 years.

Naruseb’s advice to young players is to refrain from alcohol abuse.

“The careers of some of our talented young players are cut short by alcohol abuse. You can’t go far with your career without discipline.”

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