Namibia: De Gouveia Junior Making Waves

A BIT more than two decades ago, Sandro de Gouveia captained the Brave Warriors at their first-ever African Cup of Nations finals in Burkina Faso.

They didn't win any matches, but soccer fans across the continent certainly took notice of the exciting team which was dubbed the 'comeback kids' after they staged a great revival before going down 4-3 to the Ivory Coast.

Now, twenty-two years later, Sandro's son, Matthew, is keeping the family name high with some great performances on the cricket field.

Last week he captained Namibia u19 at the Cubs Week in the Western Cape against South Africa's top provincial sides, while he already made his national u19 debut last year at the u19 African World Cup qualifier in Windhoek.

Namibia didn't fare too well at the Cubs Week, losing four of their five matches, but Matthew was their star player, scoring 247 runs at an average of 61,8 to finish seventh amongst the top batsmen.

He also shone at the African qualifier last year where he scored 199 runs in five innings', at an average of 99,50.

Besides his batting skills, he is also a fine leg-spin bowler and in a recent club match for the Welwitschia coastal side, he took six wickets for only nine runs, to lead Welwitschia to a five wicket victory against Windhoek Old Boys.

Matthew has also shone with the bat for Welwitschia, scoring a century in a 156-run victory against Wanderers in October, and after winning their first four matches, Welwitschia are currently on top of the log, and in with a good chance of winning the league title for the first time.

Sandro is certainly proud of his son, but was quick to mention other family members who are also excelling at sport.

"He's got his feet firmly on the ground and I am very proud of him. But my daughter Chelsea has also represented Namibia u19 at squash, while her cousin Chantelle has played for Namibia's senior women's squash team," he said.

"Matthew was also very good at soccer as a youngster, but he later gave up the game to concentrate on cricket," he added.

Matthew's fine form has seen him being awarded a contract with English club side Alvanley, which he will join in April, and Sandro has given him his full support.

"Matthew wants exposure and wants to see the world, so I said 'go for it'. I think he can go far - he is disciplined and he loves the game," he said.

Matthew, meanwhile, shed more light on how his love affair with cricket started.

"I was on holiday in South Africa when I saw a cricket match on TV and then and there I decided that I wanted to play the game. I joined the JCCA Coastal Academy when I was seven years old and then at 11, I started playing for Blue Waters in the Welwitschia coastal league," he said.

Matthew's talent and dedication soon shone through and by the age of 12 he already started playing for their senior team, while he made the regional Welwitschia side by the age of 15. At the age of nine Matthew was selected for the Namibian u10 team for the first time and since then he has been a constant presence in the national age group teams over the past decade.

Now with a new opportunity now arising abroad, Matthew said he couldn't wait to get started.

"My friend, the national player, Zhivago Groenewaldt told me about the CricX agency where one can get employment with cricket clubs, so I applied and luckily I was accepted. I will play for Alvanley in the Chesire County League for a six month period till September. I'm very excited and cant wait," he said.

He also paid tribute to the role that father Sandro played in his development.

"He never put any pressure on me - he just wanted me to be happy and enjoy myself. He's a great leader and he's very humble - he is a great role model for me," he said.

Sandro, meanwhile, has taken an active role in developing sport at grass roots level in the Kuisebmond area in Walvis Bay through the Namibia Playtime Trust.

"I used to sponsor Blue Waters and I was their treasurer for ten years, but now I'm concentrating on youth development in the Kuisebmond community, where I sponsor school leagues. We formed the Playtime Trust for kids to play and be involved in sport and with all the schools that are participating Id say there are about 800 kids involved now," he said.

"As a player I got the opportunity to play for my country, to travel abroad and to see the world, so now I feel this need to help others, because I received so much," he added.

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