Namibia: Former Top Footballer Now Enforces the Law

17 September 2021

JACKY 'Maradona' Amutenya (previously Mushimba) was no ordinary football player. The former City Girls flying winger was a gifted winger with an educated left foot.

Being one of the pioneers of women's football in the country, the former highly skillful footballer was actually way too good for her peers during her heyday.

Born at Swakopmund, Amutenya grew up in Windhoek where she attended the Theo Katjimune Primary School in Katutura, before she went into exile with her aunt and former first lady, Kovambo Nujoma, in 1977.

While attending the Hosea Kutako Secondary School in Cuba, she was exposed to organised football and didn't want to do any other sport after this.

"I was a tomboy and loved to hang out with boys before I left the country in 1977. It all started in Kwanza Zul, in Angola, when I developed a special love for the soccer ball, and the relationship just grew when I went to school in Cuba.

Amutenya was a left-footed winger who was loved for her superlative skills with the ball and her deadly crosses into the opposition penalty area.

She was right there with the likes of Jackie Gertze, Jacqui Shipanga and the mother of women's football, Julien Garises, when the women's football league was launched against all odds in Namibia on 30 November 1991.

The retired forward reacted to an advertisement in The Namibian newspaper that called for girls to register themselves with the aim to start a women's team called City Girls.

She says her aunt was initially not keen on her going for football practice.

"My aunt didn't understand why football, which was only associated with boys back then. I managed to convince her and she allowed me to continue to showcase my ability with a soccer ball at my feet.

"Those were wonderful years. I had to walk from Donkerhoek to the Shoprite Complex every weekday for practice. We were a group of exciting young footballers from all walks of all life, and a good mixture of different tribes with one common goal."

City Girls became the best team in the league and they started dominating the local women's football scene, while the Unam Bokkies became their fiercest opponents at the time.

It did not come as a surprise at all when Amutenya, who was nicknamed 'Maradona', after late Argentina legend Diego Maradona, was selected for the first national women's team to tour Swaziland to participate in a four nation's cup in 1993.

The tournament included Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia and South Africa.

PROTECTING THE CITY

The retired ball juggler has been employed as a law-enforcement officer by the Windhoek City Police for the past 20 years, where she holds the rank of superintendent.

"At the City Police I do traffic policing to keep law and order, and crime prevention to protect lives and property, and I also enforce municipal by-laws. I have to admit all is not smooth sailing at the moment because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"As superintendent I am supervising others, and in my department we are responsible to capture tickets on the data system. We are also required to make the city look neat by ensuring that the road signs and markings are clear to avoid accidents," Amutenya says.

The married mother and grandmother of six children and one grandchild says her work is challenging.

"Because of the Covid-19 regulations we are having a lot of patrols around the city to see that citizens adhere to the laws and regulations set to guide us through this difficult time of combating a deadly disease.

"You will always have people and shebeen owners breaking the law by selling liquor past the allowed time, and people also roam the streets drunk way past the curfew time. It is our duty to guarantee the safety of the public at large, and to act against those who are trespassing the law," she says.

Amutenya says she loves her job as she is saving and protecting lives, although it does not allow her to spend as much time with her family as she would like to.

INFLUENCES

The left-footed former star says the energy and sublime skills displayed by the late Diego Maradona on the football field had a big influence on her own football career, while Jacqui Shipanga and the skilful Jacky Gertze were her toughest opponents on the pitch.

A self-confessed Tigers FC fan, Amutenya attributes her excellent skills and shooting ability to "lots and lots of practice".

"I may be fulfilled, but I really miss playing. Travelling with my teammates from town to town to play was fun. Women's football was not funded as well as today, but we used to contribute money to pay for the team bus and fuel.

"We were very much committed throughout those struggles, and they made us stronger as people," she says.

She advises young girls to take their game seriously and forget the general belief that football is a men's game only.

"Make football your hobby, because you have to love what you are doing to succeed. Work hard to win professional contracts to go play professionally and to make your dreams come true," Amutenya says.

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