African Stars captain, Pat-Navin Uanivi, remains one of the unsung heroes in the Namibia Premier League (NPL).
In my view, the 30-year-old is one of the best defenders to ever play in the NPL. His presence in the heart of defence has helped Stars achieve the best defensive record in the league with only 12 goals conceded so far, which compares favourably with the 20 goals let in by second place team Black Africa.
Stars are currently on top of the NPL log standings with 52 points, while Black Africa have 47 points, with only five matches to go before the end of the season.
During his time at Stars, Uanivi has won three NPL titles, the Namibia Football Association (NFA) Cup four times, the Standard Bank Super Cup and League Cup once.
He was crowned NPL Player of the Year in 2015 after leading Stars to a league title that season, a rare feat for a defender.
But despite being a regular feature at Stars and playing 17 times for the national U-20 team and six games for the U-23 side over the years, Uanivi has the unenviable record of having never played for the Brave Warriors.
“I was only called up to the national team on two occasions, but never played,” he said.
The Stars captain credits his father, Boas Tjingaete, for introducing him to his club, which he joined at the tender age of 17.
“I grew up supporting Stars because of my dad; that is why Stars is very close to my heart. It was my dad that took me to Stars, since he was a defender himself at Stars.”
Uanivi has worked with some of the top coaches in the local league, including Zimbabwean mentor Gilbert Rwasoka, who won the NFA Cup in 2005, Ali Akan, Woody Jacobs and Bobby Samaria.
When Brave Warriors captain, Ronald Ketjijere, joined Stars last season from the University of Pretoria (AmaTuks), many thought that he would be named club captain over Uanivi, but the coach had other ideas. Little wonder the defender rates Samaria as the best coach he has ever worked with at club level.
“I have worked with different coaches and it is very difficult to choose the best coach, but Samaria is a very good coach as he believed in me and he has taught me a lot of things.”
The veteran Uanivi was also unlucky not to play outside the country.
“It was always my dream to play outside, but considering my age, I do not think about it anymore (playing outside).”
Uanivi, a cousin to national rugby player, Tjiuee Uanivi, plans to continue playing football for as long as his legs can carry him.
“I do not have a big body therefore my body will allow me to play for more years,” said the defender who keeps himself fit by working very hard in training and exercising alone in the morning.
In order to secure the league title this season, Uanivi said they will have to treat the remaining five league games as cup finals.
“We will do it (winning the league),” he said.