New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Inside the Aged - the Rock of Gibraltar -'ou Luka' the Fearsome Defender

Lukas Lucky Araeb, better known as 'Ou Luka' among his circle of football buddies and foes alike used to be one of the most feared defenders in the business of domestic football during the 1970's.

The hard-tackling former Namib Woestyn no-nonsense fullback was a fearless tackler and the dangerous Orlando Pirates striking pair of Lemmy Narib and Mike 'Ou Pine' Pienaar could attest to the fact that spending 90 minutes on the field with the uncompromising 'Ou Luka' was not among the most pleasant experiences of their football careers.

The Kuisebmond outfit will be remembered for their fluent football, which culminated in speedy wingers Haban Adams and Straal Auchumeb causing havoc down the flanks, while Daito Hagedoorn, Ben Tumuna, Petrus Brown, Mannetjie Tjikune, Axarob Haoseb and the youthful Celle Auchumeb laid siege to cause serious damage to the opposition at the slightest provocation.

Woestyn had two contrasting styles of play, slick movements in the middle of the park complemented by great sharp shooters in the final quarter, but it was a different kettle of fish at the back where the robust Lukas and his defensive partner, Titoma Jod, took no prisoners and never hesitated to get into the thick of things with everything at their disposal.

The tough tackling 'Ou Luka' who made stopping marauding strikers right in their tracks look like taking candy from a toddler, relives some of his memories of the beautiful game.abwean team to mark Namibia's independence celebrations in 1990.

It's a well-documented fact that the South African apartheid regime has robbed dozens of great athletes in Namibia of the opportunity to showcase their natural, god-given talents internationally and the scars remain, while many still believe that apartheid and fate have dealt them a mean blow.

One such athlete is former footballer Lukas 'Lucky' Araeb, also known as 'Ou Luka' who plied his trade with Kuisebmond-based outfit Namib Woestyn in years gone by. Born in Walvis Bay on the 15th of February 1949 - Ou Luka spent a significant chunk of his formative years in the Kuisebmond township, where he became hooked to the beautiful game of football. He grew up chasing an inflated piece of leather alongside boyhood buddies Petrus Brown, Daito Haggedoorn, Axaro Haoseb, Erwin Byl, Haban Adams, Eddie Cloete, and Straal Auchumeb.

Ou Luka started playing competitive football at an early age and cut his teeth with Explorer Eleven FC - featuring at right back and fullback.

Some of his celebrated teammates in the Explorer Eleven outfit included Storm Khom-Khaiseb, Ballie, the Dickson brothers David and Akino - but Ou Luka surprisingly jumped ship to join forces with rivals Namib Woestyn FC.

"Both Namib Woestyn and Blue Waters football clubs were the teams of choice because they were the two leading teams at the time, but I decided to join Woestyn because most of my homeboys were playing for them," reveals Ou Luka.

'You see, the club was formerly known as Happy Blue and then Navy Blue before it was finally renamed Namib Woestyn FC in the old location. The club recruited most of its players from among the students from Döbra High School and blended them with some good players from the neighbourhood. The competition was quite intense with teams such as Explorer Eleven, Blue Waters and Eleven Arrows all very competitive but Woestyn was always a notch above the rest.

"We had a great bunch of highly talented footballers and played excellent entertaining football, which the fans enjoyed and loved. Namib Woestyn won several knockout tournaments across the country, but somehow we always struggled to win matches in Windhoek because the match officials were too biased towards Black Africa and Orlando Pirates who always seemed to be enjoying preferential treatment.

"Nevertheless, we would let them pay dearly whenever they came down to the coast as we beat them fair and square on the football field without the assistance of biased match officials," Ou Luka recalls with obvious pride.

He still cherishes the good old days on the football pitch and singles out the likes of Bernard Da Costa Philemon, Kapuii Angula, Jerry Shikongo and Tommy Uushona among the most troublesome strikers he had to deal with during his eventful football career. He represented the Western Invitational XI on numerous occasions and had a taste of international football when he featured for the Western XI picked to play against the visiting Kaizer XI, at the old Katutura Soccer Stadium in 1969.

"Football was great in those days but Namib Woestyn lost their spark when the old guard retired and the young brigade took over the reins. The youngsters were too clever for their own goodsand would not easily take advice from those in the know, while they clearly lacked the required skills and magic to represent a team of the calibre of Namib Woestyn and to compete at the highest level, and that was the last straw that broke the camel's back."

Besides getting his name sporadically on the scoresheet, obviously on the wrong side of the field, which culminated in a couple of own goals - Ou Luka remains one of the most feared defenders to have emerged in local football. He cites former Eleven Arrows and Etosha Lions dribbling wizard Nangi Nickel, and the African Stars duo of Oscar Mengo and Immanuel Kamuserandu as his all time favourites during his generation.

Unlike many footballers from his generation who have mostly wilted under the steady onslaught of time, Ou Luka is still looking sharp and fresh - defying his fairly advanced age of 63. The self-employed former Namib Woestyn FC bone-crunching tackler is still going strong and runs a one-man show with his own company, as a welder and repairing electric appliances in Kuisebmond to make ends meet.

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