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Former star goalkeeper now inspires others – Sport

Former Eleven Arrows and youth national team goalkeeper Cecil ‘Dahle’ Mutilifa is one of the most flamboyant goalkeepers this country has produced.

He is known and loved for his discipline and humility on and off the football field.

Although he retired from active football 19 years ago, the former star goalkeeper remains a recognizable figure on the streets of Walvis Bay.

Born in Otjiwarongo 55 years ago, Mutilifa moved to Walvis Bay as a child, where he attended Immanuel Ruiters Primary School and later Kuisebmond Secondary School.

“It was during my years at Ruiters that I started playing street football as a striker. I only changed to goalkeeper after I broke my leg. The starting goalkeeper was absent one day and they asked me to help in the goals, and my teammates convinced me to continue in the goals.

“I must admit that I really enjoyed my new role. Maybe it was a good omen for me to break my leg and switch to goalkeeper, because soon after I was recruited by the under-10 team of former first division team Eleven Arrows,” Mutilifa said.

Before he knew it, he was thrown into the deep end by the port city giants after their regular goalkeeper was unavailable for games.

“I was only 15 years old when Arrows asked me to replace regular goalkeeper Immanuel ‘Sparks’ Gottlieb. . .

“I really stood my ground during those games against Orlando Pirates and African Stars,” he says.

Mutilifa also enjoyed success with the western under-16 team which visited Otjiwarongo and Tsumeb, and later with the regional under-20 team which played in Omaruru and Arandis.

He played for the Arrows and even helped his team reach the JPS Cup final in 1988, which they eventually won thanks to a penalty shoot-out against bitter rivals Blue Waters at the Kuisebmond Stadium.

Mutilifa defended the goal from Arrows’ first match of the competition until the semi-finals, with (Sparks) Gottlieb preferred for the final.

Retired footballer Cecil Mutilifa is now a devout member of the Immanuel Pentecostal Mission Church in Walvis Bay. Photo: contributed

Mutilifa, once Kuisebmond High School’s goalkeeper of the year in the 1980s, also won a local Eastern Tournament with Arrows, before winning the Namibian Premier League with them in 1991.

“That same year I was also selected for the Erongo Regional Invitational

“We did our best, but the Russians completely outplayed us and gave us a free soccer lesson that day,” he says.

In 1991, Arrows also won the premier league and became the first Namibian club to participate in the prestigious Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League.

The coastal giants were knocked out of the competition by Lesotho Arsenal after a revealing two-leg battle in the preliminary round.

Mutilifa was then called up to the national under-23 team, when Namibia hosted a southern African under-23 mini-tournament under coach Shepherd Murabe and his assistant, Eric Muinjo.

At least eight Arrows players were called up to the under-23 team.

“I must say Arrows had the most formidable team in the country at the time. So it was no surprise that we won the Namibian Premier League and represented our country in the CAF Championship, even if briefly,” he says.

Mutilifa, who was on the under-23 team that was supposed to face another regional counterpart in a failed match to celebrate Africa Day in 1992, was also part of one of two teams that were selected to participate in a fundraiser for the deceased Tigres. Hangula ‘Bricks’ of Ndapewa.

The former youth national team star also had brief spells with the Blue Waters in 1989, while he donned the colors of the Orlando Pirates the following year.

WORK, FAMILY

The retired goalkeeper married Magdalena Mutilifa in 2007 and the couple has two children.

Mutilifa also has 13 children from previous relationships, two of whom have died.

“I don’t regret the number of children I have. In fact, I consider them a blessing. I love all my children and they love me.

“I have met with them. They all love each other like brothers and sisters and we are one big family,” she says.

Mutilifa says his only regret is missing out on the opportunity to play football in South Africa.

“My mother refused to allow me to go because I am her only child, and that decision really broke my heart, because I always wanted to play at a higher level. But now I’m okay with it.”

Mutilifa took early retirement from Cadilu Fishing Company in February after 22 years of working at the company as a production supervisor.

“I now live a quiet life and am just working to further strengthen my relationship with my children, with whom I have built a very strong bond.

“I have a very supportive wife and we have embarked on this life journey together,” he says.

A devout member of the Immanuel Pentecostal Mission Church, he says he stays busy encouraging people and giving motivational speeches at schools and memorial services.

He also wrote a book, titled “From Gatekeeper to Soul Winner,” which will be published soon.

Mutilifa’s advice to young footballers is: “Respect yourself, respect your coaches, appreciate your talent, invest wisely in the future and support your family members.”

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