Death has struck Namibian football for the umpteenth time as the country awoken to the devastating news that former Brave Gladiators and Okahandja Beauties Football Club versatile footballer Stephanie Hummel has exited the game of life.
The departed “footy” was the biological daughter of football great Hans “Alu” Hummel and his gorgeous spouse Elizabeth “Eli” Hummel, formerly Jagger. Both her parents come from football crazy clans and it was only fitting that Steph would become a noted multi talented athlete.
Grandfather Jeremiah “Meester” Jagger, an uncompromising political activist and schoolteacher was founder member of the now defunct Rocco Swallows/Ramblers Katutura Football Club whilst uncle Rocky was a prolific striker with exciting Katutura outfit Sorento Bucks.
Steph’s Mariental born old man Alu, is a product of the football playing Hummel siblings that includes elder brother Rudolf “Boeta”, Stoeier, Fonnie, Pius, Babes, Browny and cousin George.
During her illustrious football career, the late Steph was a valuable squad member of the National senior women’s football team and was without an iota of doubt one of the most outstanding performers for the Brave Gladiators.
In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sport feature, profiling our sports heroes and heroines – New Era Sports pays fitting tribute to Stephanie Hummel, the multi talented athlete.
WINDHOEK – Born in Namibia’s commercial city, Windhoek on 22nd of July 1985, the late Stephanie Hummel was amongst the first crop of footballers representing their native land internationally alongside the highly recognised Fifa Instructor Jacqui Shipanga, Jacky Gertze, Rita Williams, Salome Iyambo, Uerikondjera Kasoana, Stacy Naris (junior player) Helvi Eliakim and many others.
Steph went onto play under her former teammate Jacqui Shipanga, when she was installed as the first female coach of the Brave Gladiators and played under her stewardship for four solid seasons.
Interestingly, she was not only a competitive footballer, Steph was a phenomenal athlete excelling in both the track & field events that saw her gain national colours at junior level under the auspices of the Namibia School Sports Union (NSSU).
Nonetheless, as fate would dictate, her first love was the beautiful game of football but she still managed to juggle her busy schedule between the spherical object and athletics – using the alter to her great advantage on the football field.
The tireless right-sided midfielder was a deadly shooter from range and had the ability of supplying telling crosses into the opposition’s penalty box for her strikers to feed on.
Off the football field, she was quite popular and admired by fellow pupils at the revered Ellah Du Plessis High School in Khomasdal. She constantly showed her competitors a clean pair of heels in both the 100 and 200m sprints.
The highly skillful humorous Steph made her debut in competitive football for the star studded Okahandja Beauties outfit in the Garden Town, which was formed by Jacqui Shipanga in 2002 at the tender age of 15.
Her immerse contribution towards the Garden Town girls’ immeasurable success resulted in three consecutive league titles, complimented by a pair of national championships – certainly no mean feat.
The gorgeous lass whose looks could be easily mistaken for that of a movie star would be best remembered for the cool fashion in which she dispatched the wining penalty kick in the Cosafa Cup semi final match against hosts Zambia.
“We vividly remember how everyone ran to celebrate with Stephanie, she would just shout to trying to keep her jubilant teammates at bay cautioning them not to touch her hair because she always wore a special hairdo for each game,” recalls the iron lady of domestic football Jacky Gertze.
Sadly, she was unable to lead Namibia to the promised land of milk and honey as the gutsy Gladiators just fell short in the final against big sister South Africa’s “Banyana Banyana” – losing 1-3 after taking a one goal cushion in the opening half. Nonetheless, she was the proud recipient of a silver medal from the regional tourney
Despite the setback, coach Shipanga never lost hope in the hard working midfielder’s ability and continued to call her up for national duty in subsequent international matches.
She was a committed servant of her native land and would honour national call ups until she notified the coach that she could no longer train at a higher competitive level due to multiple injuries.
Although she suffered from chronic muscle cramps in competitive matches or training sessions, she remained a first choice for the coach because of the extra spark she brought to the team’s playing style.
Sadly, after several one on one meetings with the head coach, she finally succumbed to her injuries and resolved to call it quits because she was not feeling physically strong enough to honour future national duties.
Although Steph could no longer feature for the national team, she continued to feature sporadically in the highly competitive Khomas Women’s Football League.
Her near faultless performance at club level incited coach Shipanga trying to persuade her to re-thing her premature retirement and help the team out during the 2014 CAF Women Championship on home soil.
“It was crystal clear that she has moved on from competitive sports and politely declined the challenge. As sad as it might sound, the naked reality is that the game of football can change the life of many people for the better.
“If our footballers can stay longer in an organised structure, we can properly look after them because we don’t have any other systems to assist them away from football and at times the evils of society. “To put it in bold, the toxic society athletes are exposed to might not have enough means and the required expertise to help our players with life after football.”
The Namibian Women’s Football Desk focuses on sport development as a basic philosophy and concept on which all our programs are based. Players must play football whilst using the platform that comes with this popular game and make a positive impact on their lives long after their playing days are gone.
The late Steph was a NFA trained football referee, coach and administrator through all the Fifa and NFA Courses.
The first group of referees training the Women Department in conjunction with the NFA Referees Department produced several of senior footballers led by Steph, Queen Manga, Novatha Paulus, Mariana Gaebusi, Kleintjie Fredericks, Mangulukeni Hamatha, Popies Skrywer.
Steph also passed the Fifa Fitness Test for Referees at the Independence stadium with flying colours but since she was still preferring playing at national level, she could not be accredited for Fifa ranks.
“Today, the Namibia Women Football Desk looks back at an athlete who has represented her country with great honour under extremely difficult circumstances as a national player. We would simply just say’ thank you for your invaluable contribution towards this beautiful game.
“It’s because of players like you, who were there in the most difficult times to make it possible for women and girls to represent Namibia at international level.
“We wish the family peace and comfort from above and that God will give them the strength and understanding during this difficult moment. Rest in Peace Steph,” wrote the NFA Women Department in a moving eulogy. – Additional information: NFA Women’s Desk.