By Dino Ballotti
Some might ask how the heck do you play the B.A way. This statement should be clearer at the end of this read. Yes, the Lively Lions lost to the ghosts in the cup and yes, they may have had a shaky start to the season, but would you be foolish enough to doubt Ranga’s men winning a 3rd consecutive league title?
I recently had the pleasure of attending the Namibian Newspaper cup in Otjiwarongo over the Easter weekend. As much as the cattle farmers were grateful for the rain, the timing was not ideal, and the often heavy downpours and water soaked pitches compromised the quality of play at times but my hat off to the regional teams that maintained a high level of football excellence throughout. It was evident from the grand stand that the players were playing for the pride of their regions, something that almost all NPL sides can take note of. Which brings me to the point of player loyalty, or rather lack thereof when it comes to donning a club jersey. Rudi Louw, the one player you sign if you want to be guaranteed a league title has represented almost every NPL team, scooping 6 league winners’ medals along the way. A master-class no 10 at his peak and a truly exceptional local footballer, he will always be one of my favorites. Whereas, on the other hand you have Moses Kajiteo, a Black Africa legend, who has only ever represented the red and black and struck fear into strikers eyes for over 10 years now. Moses or coach Muree as he now goes by will play for free if it means he can represent his beloved Black Africa.
As a coach I would rather coach 11 Moses Katjiteos, with all due respect to the Namibia’s very own Rudi ‘Nicolas Anelka’ Louw. A player that respects the jersey will fight for the jersey, that’s my philosophy. Let’s hypothetically assume Ramblers F.C could no longer pay their player’s monthly wages, which player’s would stay on at the club? Perhaps, Ami Savihemba, Lukas Hashiti and Boma Nailonge? I may be off by one or two more players but my general opinion is that the players would journey to greener pastures as club loyalty lies at the very bottom of their agenda. Another shining example is Amos ‘The Legend’ Shiyuka, a Civics stalwart, who began his career with the Bethlehem Boys and kicked his last competitive kick for the very same club more than a decade later. I recall watching this monster of a centre half commanding his defence as now looks like de javu when watching Siyabonga Sangweni marshal his Orlando Pirates backline. Amos played with his heart on his sleeve, he was a captain’s captain. And again, I would rather have 11 Amos Shiyukas on my side any day.
Otjizondjupa’s coach John Sikerete has done exceptionally well to win the Newspaper cup in his debut attempt without his side having concede a solitary goal. He rallied his troops together from the very first game, of course there were some quality players that made his life easier, most notably the right winger wearing jersey no7, that young man will go places, however, the positive style of play and the determination he instilled in his team to win each and every match was evident. Otjizondjupa region played the B.A way.
Coming back to how does a team play the B.A way. Let’s say I was given a squad of 25 players and asked to assemble a league winning team, my very first line of business would be to infuse a sense of belonging from each player toward the club, the very same way Black Africa has done. Each and every player will be thoroughly taught about the history and values of the club, if for example one of the players were to walk past Mr. Eric Muinjo in Independence Avenue, he should know what role Eric played in B.A’s dominance in the stone ages. Each player must be made to feel proud to wear the club jersey, not because pink is his favourite colour and it matches his boots but because he knows the roots of the club jersey and the value it means to the hordes or handful of supporters that supports him wearing it. I will build a team of Moses Katjiteo’s and Amos Shiyuka’s that will be proud to play for a team as big or small as Life Fighters F.C and will implant the fighting spirit to want to win every match they play in, no matter the competition. At the end of the day, I want my side to play the B.A way.