… As former Warriors mentor calls on City to build national track
By John Tuerijama
FORMER Brave Warriors mentor Bernard Kaanjuka, who last coached the national team in 2013, has transferred his footballing passion to horse racing, and says that the sport is “in his blood”.
In an exclusive interview with Confidente this week, Kaanjuka, who also coached former premier league outfit, Liverpool Football Club (FC) from Okahandja, as well as African Stars and a host of other national football teams, revealed that he is now professionally and passionately into horse racing.
His love for horse racing is evident in the pictures of seven different horses that are neatly pasted on his office wall at the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, where he works as the director of school sport. Kaanjuka, whose face beamed as he spoke with great affection about his love for horse racing, said his passion for the sport started during his youth, while his late grandfather, Gotlieb Kambapa Kaanjuka, was farming with horses and other animals.
During his interview with Confidente, the soft-spoken football guru also pleaded with the City of Windhoek to construct a national horse racing track, as more and more people are watching the sport in their numbers.
When asked why he chose horse racing and not another sport to invest his energy and time into, Kaanjuka, who is the father of sprint sensation Hitjivirue Kaanjuka, said horse racing is literally in his blood.
Kaanjuka, who fielded two horses at the Gobabis July Handicap, held in the Omaheke region last month, saw his horse, Roman Crystal, coming third in the 1000m race, while Il Tanga came third in the 1800m open race.
“I bought my very first horse, Kendals Girl, from a friend of mine few years ago, while the rest of my horses were bought in South Africa. This is a very expensive sport, and just like humans have national documents, these horses are documented and verified when bought in South Africa, something that is seriously lacking in our country,” he said.
“Our Namibian-bred horses are not documented; I sincerely hope that the national body on horses will address the situation,” said Kaanjuka.
“Unfortunately I had to put down Kendals Girl, who broke her leg. But I am extremely happy with the performances of my horses at the different competitions; I am so happy that they rank among the top horses in the country.”
The 53-year-old talks passionately about his horses, including 11-year-old Il Tanga, Roman Crystal, Distingly Dry, the late Titbit, Clear Crystal (retired), ten-year-old Secret Call and Ship Master.
Most of Kaanujka’s horses are mares, who he bought in South Africa. He said that all he needs is a very good stallion, in order to breed, which is difficult to find locally. He said a horse’s individual passport indicates their age, health and if they had had any diseases, while reiterating that the problem is that Namibian horses are not documented. “Yes, it’s a very expensive sport, as one has to travel to Cape Town to buy the horses. You have to invest a lot into the horses. I tell you this; horse racing is way better than football (in terms of spectators). The spectators that we had at the July Handicap in Gobabis, were simply phenomenal,” he said.
Kaanjuka further said that he has learnt much from his jockeys, who have narrated their different experiences to him and how to get the best out of the horses.
“They know a lot about how to best treat the horses. The animals should be treated kindly, just like one would treat your very own children,” he said.
“I travelled to London in the United Kingdom in 2014 to go watch horse racing, and that was quite awesome, as there were 300 000 spectators at the Royal Ascot Racecourse in Newbury. I also had the privilege to watch another horse racing event at the Newmarket Racecourse, with Lesley Tjozongoro of the Namibia Horse Racing Association,” Kaanjuka said. “I have had some of my horses competing in Botswana. You know, it’s really not about the money, it’s all about sportsmanship, where the event brings old and young together from all across tribal lines.” He said that the sport is developing, and all that is needed is funding. Kaanjuka pleaded with the City of Windhoek to earmark a piece of land to construct a national horse racing track, because just like other sport codes, horse racing needs a stadium in the capital.
Asked what drives his love for horse racing, Kaanjuka said that he has a passion for the animals that race.
“These horses are loved and looked after on a daily basis. These animals don’t just grace in the open, they are confined to specific areas and are taken care of.
“Currently, I have one jockey whose name is Hekereko, I also use the services of two of Namibia’s acclaimed veteran jockey brothers, Oubaas and George, who are very good. The sport creates friendships, and I have friends all over Namibia,” said Kaanjuka.
He warned others in the sport to avoid doping their horses, at all costs.
“I am not saying that we have had instances of doping, but these are things that are happening in the world. I therefore urge my fellow friends to avoid doping horses.
“I also want to call on the local media to give credible coverage to horse racing events and promote the sport,” Kaanjuka said.
He also thanked businessman Albert Tjihero, who is also a former African Stars player, for introducing him to the sport.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015