Mike Pack, ‘Omburu ja Pako’
Mike Pack or Kangova, in later years to be popularly known as ‘Omburu ja Pako’ (the white boy from the Cattle Country). Those who know this man would call him whatever they want, but there’s no doubting that Bro Mike has loomed quite large over the overall foundation and ultimate success of Katutura glamour football club, African Stars. Together with skinny versatile teammate Amos ‘Superman’ Tjombe, the pair was the only one that managed against all odds to serve three different generations at Stalile, as African Stars is affectionately known among its ardent followers.
Blessed with amazing speed, Mike was among the second generation that was drafted in to replace some of the ageing founder members of Stars. Few of the remaining members of which Bro Mike rubbed shoulders with were astute veterinarian Dr Siegfried Tjaatako Tjijorokisa, Aphas Koviuana Katjivirue and Cleophas Siseva Siririka, aka “Danger”, among others. He would go on to become a valuable member of Stars’ golden generation following the unavoidable recruitment and subsequent arrival of highly talented youngsters led by bulky midfielder Justus Uahatjiri Kaika Kuzee in the early 70s. Carlos Kambaekwa, a former Reds’ ball boy, pens this piece on his Elvis Presley look-alike idol.
Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa
Former African Stars Football Club fast-as-lightning winger Mike Pack, aka ‘Omburu ja Pako’ made his name as a no-nonsense fullback after he was converted from the right wing position to fill the role of midfield anchorman.
He made No. 6 jersey his own property until a niggling ankle injury obliged him to pack his football togs for good at the fairly advanced age of 38.
Born in Windhoek’s Old Location in 1947, the light-skinned tallish boy started playing football at an early age at the Rhenisch Herero School before moving to Ella du Plessis via the revered St Andrews Primary School for basters/coloureds offspring and kids of well to do parents of Bantu descendants (blacks).
Like many other youngsters in the neigbourhood, Mike used to kick a tennis ball in the streets and would engage in fiercely contested stake games until nightfall.
He was a founder member of a football team called into life by young footballers that were keen on playing in a competitive environment. He teamed up with Phillip Hei, Skade Kandjiriomuini, Coskey Ngaizuvarue, Theo Hohova Ndisiro, aka ‘Slow Poison’, to form Eleven Brothers Football Club.
However, when the first generation of African Stars started to wear out – the team was dismantled, as the majority of the players were drafted into the Reds first team.
The competition was extremely tough in those days, with Tigers dominating domestic football at an alarming pace.
“We used to compete against other strong teams in the mould of Cape Cross (Pirates Dolam) Rocco Swallows, Jungle Boys and in later years both Orlando Pirates and Black Africa were established,” recalls Bro Mike.
In the absence of organised league football, clubs would engage in exhibition matches visiting other towns such as Walvis Bay, Okahandja, Gobabis, Tsumeb, Otjiwarongo, Mariental and Keetmanshoop.
“Sometimes we would compete in knockout cup competitions but the tournament that stood out was the annual Hosea Kutako Cup, hosted by Life Fighters in Otjiwarongo.”
When the likes of George Hoveka, Obven Kamburona, Petrus Mazenge, Phillip and Maihi Hei, Skade Kandjiriomuini, Tjatjitua Katjiteo, Meundju Kakunde, Ranonga ‘Rhoo’ Mbaeva, Bertholdt Tjiundje, Usiel Tjienda, Dawid Ndjoze, Floyd Maharero, Ripuree Hoveka, Seth Kaimu, Hijambura Ndjahera and Theo Ndisiro became a bit long in the tooth – Mike and Amos (Tjombe) were the only survivors from that group, as the pair was tasked to usher the new generation into the system. The new generation spearheaded by young big frame midfielder Kaika Uahatjiri Kuzee, hit the ground running and as they say, the rest is history.
Mike was a squad member of the all-conquering Reds outfit that lifted the first knockout trophy accompanied by the sizeable prize money of N$1 000 (one thousand dollars) in 1974.
The Oscar Mengo-inspired Stalile saw off pre-tournament favourites Black Africa in a five-goal thriller (3-2) at the packed to the rafters Katutura Stadium to claim the inaugural edition of the coveted Dave’s Furnishers Cup.
Bush Menjengua, Ben Kauejao and young Albert Tjihero betted for Stars while Five Hochobeb and Pius Eigowab replied for BA. During his marathon lodging at Stars, Mike won several knockout trophies as a no-nonsense fullback, who took no prisoners but the brother also had his fair share of tough battles with Orlando Pirates’ robust burly defender Izaak ‘Whoops’ Gariseb.
“He (Whoops) was a ruthless competitor and never pulled out of 50/50 situations, his opponents would always come off second best in those battles,” reminisces Mike.
Mike regards former Black Africa lethal goal poacher Pius Garrincha Eigowab, aka Pele, as the most dangerous striker he had to deal with during his long football career.
“Eigowab was fast, cunning and could shoot while at full speed. He was one of a kind and I’m yet to see a striker of his calibre terrorising defenders with such brutal dominance and lethality.”
Sadly, a niggling ankle injury suffered during the annual Hosea Kutako Cup in Otjiwarongo in 1975 brought an abrupt end to an otherwise flourishing football career that took him beyond the Orange River in South Africa.
Mike toured Upington, South Africa, where Stars played in several exhibition matchers against local football teams, including Paballeo Chiefs FC.
Upon his retirement from competitive football, Mike was installed as president of his beloved African Stars.
The fast-as-lightning fullback went on to lead Stars on the historic tour to Bophuthatswana for a few friendly matches against local invitational sides in Mafeking and Rustenburg.
However, there was another side of Mike Pack off the field, the Elvis Presley look-alike brother was indeed an entertainer and would have the crowd in stitches with his amazing belly shaking dancing moves – much to the satisfaction of his admirers.