Widmann still has unfinished business with Namibian football…non-Europeans soften edges of segregation
WINDHOEK – Threatened with deportation to his native country by the South African Apartheid regime, spearheaded by Kosie Pretorius, former African Stars Football Club and South West Africa (SWA) head coach Dieter Widmann, is back in his adopted land after 39 years.
The German national had a turbulent reception in the then Apartheid SWA when he defied authorities to cross the colour line, coaching Katutura giants African Stars FC in 1976. He arrived in SWA as a chemistry schoolteacher at the revered Deutsche Hohere Privatschule (DHPS) doubling as coach for the school’s football team.
He also mentored the all whites SWA Under-16 side before he was elevated to the senior side, taking the coaching reigns for the multiracial SWA Currie Cup team to East London, South Africa in 1980.
In the interim, the football crazy German import joined forces with Pionierspark outfit Wanderers (previously Talpark) competing in the whites only National Football League.
However, his arrival in SWA was not a bed of roses as he was summoned to Tintenpalast by the uncompromising apartheid leader Kosie Pretorius. Authorities did not take kindly to his flirtation with darkish hide inhabitants when they got wind that Widmann was a frequent visitor in the township, unlawfully coaching “Starlile” in the township.
“I was almost on the next available flight back to Germany, had it not been for the divine intervention of German authorities. Luckily, there was a “technicality issue” in my work permit that I will be mentoring non-Europeans during my assignment in SWA with no mention of blacks.
He was eventually allowed to enter the township and carry out his coaching duties, albeit reluctantly, but was obliged to obtain an entry permit from the cops, each and every time he visited Katutura.
These restrictions did not discourage him turning the Katutura outfit into a formidable side in no time. The Reds started playing what would become their traditional “one touch” football and were the envy of every neutral football follower in the business.
Under his shrewd stewardship, the Oscar Mengo inspired rejuvenated “Starlile” claimed an astonishing cup double in the inaugural season of multiracial football in Apartheid SWA in 1977 – winning both the national league and the coveted Mainstay Cup.
He also steered the club to victory in the 1980 edition of the prestigious annual Mainstay Cup and won several accolades with the Reds, including the annual Matador Pokal. The Reds brushed SKW aside via 3-1 score line.
A proud holder of a PhD in Sport Education, Widmann, is nowadays attached to the German Ministry of Education & Research and is currently in Namibia on a two month work visit.
“I’ve been tasked to take youth coaches at DTS through the ropes – from under-6 to the under-17 age group categories.”
The 77-year old part time pilot still enjoys close links with former club African Stars but is not impressed with the current standard of domestic football.
“I’m actually disappointed because the standard has not improved an inch from where we were almost forty years back despite international exposure, improved training facilities and playing conditions, better travelling arrangements as well as balanced nutrition.”
During his time in SWA, Widmann also worked as a sport anchor for the South West Africa Broadcasting Corporation (Swauk) German Radio Service alongside local veteran broadcaster Freddy Frewer.
He still kept close links with dozens of Namibian footballers, with Manfred Starke, Collin Benjamin and incumbent NPL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Harald Fuelle, amongst his close circle of pals.
Widmann, is also very much in touch with former SWA players Klaus Hubner and Willy Rwida. The latter named his elder son Dieter.
2019-10-15 07:26:21 7 months ago