Uda: Diamond in the rough
Born, Edmund Uda Kambanda in Tsumeb on 3 March 1993 is one of the most admired football talents this Land of the Braves has produced.
A left-footed player, whose main position is left-back but on numerous occasions, is utilised as a winger where he gets a chance to score goals.
“We had too many left footed players on our team so they moved me in front but my fixed position is left back,” he explains.
His club Benfica is a former Namibia Premier League team.
Early days, break through and achievements
Like all other kids, Kambanda began playing football in the streets of Tsumeb and at school at an early age of 9.
“I started playing with my friends Olaf, Nathan, Kamuu and many others.”
At the age of 15, he caught the eyes of the junior national selectors and in 2009, shortly before he turned 16; he was taken into the junior set up.
“My first national call-up was in the Under 15s when we went to Germany for a training camp,” recalls Kambanda.
Since then, he has never looked back and has gone on to represent his beloved Namibia at all levels.
Kambanda played for Etosha Senior Secondary School before he completed in 2012. The school is situated in his hometown of Tsumeb in the northern central part of Namibia.
Former Brave Warriors left-back, Nelson Geingob, is one of the products of the school.
During his time at Etosha SSS, hard work earned him the best soccer player’s award in 2011 and 2012.
According to Etosha’s school website, despite different awards given in a variety of sports disciplines, there is one popular title at the school - the Best Sports Stars - a title not so easy to achieve and whoever wins it, should be proud of themselves.
Kambanda was honoured with the Boys’ Sports Star Award three times in a row. He picked it up in 2009, 2010 and 2011 for his never-disappointing performance on the field.
He has not played for any team other than Benfica.
“Ever since I was young, my childhood dream was to play for Benfica,” says the athletic player who is a speed machine whose left-foot shots come close to none.
He has played 76 matches for his team Benfica who are currently in Namibia’s third league tier and is with the team for five seasons to date.
Although he can’t remember well the number of matches he played in the junior team, he indicates that it should be over 15 caps. He has, thus far, not attended any trials outside Namibia but he believes, with time, he will be seen in the Namibia Premier League.
Kambanda is not yet a fable in the game but his unique style of play has earned him the name ‘Fantastic’ from his team mates.
He trains everyday with his club Benfica when the league has begun and during holidays and breaks he visits the gym to keep himself fit.
Benfica were champions in their region last year but missed out on the Northern Stream First Division top spot after losing the play-offs in July 2012.
Epupa Eleven of Omusati Region and African Warriors from Otjozondjupa Region were promoted to the NSFD instead.
Kambanda was recently called up to play for the Brave Warriors B-team that toured Africa including the recent squad that came second in Ghana after drawing 2-2 and 0-0 against hosts Ghana and Egypt respectively in July 2012. Egypt beat Ghana in the last match to win the three-nation youth tournament.
The Tsumeb-based player was also part of the Brave Warriors’ U/23 squad that played in Windhoek against the visiting U/23 team of TSG Hoffenheim from Germany in February 2012. The B-team of the Brave Warriors and the national U/20 side has featured in a couple of mini tournaments in Africa as well as in Germany where they displayed great football against some of Africa’s best clubs and youth national teams.
He is turning 20 in March this year, making him ineligible to play for the U/20 after that, but with his marvellous prowess, a door to the senior team will not be hard to enter.
Former Manchester United, current Real Madrid and Portuguese star, Cristiano Ronaldo, is a great inspirational player to Kambanda whilst South Africa’s Premier Soccer League giant, Kaizer Chiefs, is the dream club he wants to play for.
He gives credit to his family, friends and mostly to his manager for their immense influence in his footballing career.
He points out his toughest international matches as the 2013 CAF U/20 African Youth Championship qualifiers played in two legs against Rwanda on 21 April 2012 in Windhoek and the return leg was in Kigali on the 5th of May 2012.
Namibia was knocked out of the qualifiers as they lost 4-1 on aggregate. The first match was a 2-0 loss at home before losing 2-1 in the 2nd leg away to Rwanda.
However, his best international game to date is the match he played against Zimbabwe in December 2011 during the Metropolitan COSAFA Under-20 Youth Championship at group stage, although it ended in a 1-all draw. Namibia’s scored through Hendrik Somaeb. During the same tournament, Kambanda was on the score sheet as they cruise past Madagascar by 3 goals to 1, but missed out on a semi-final spot, after losing in a 4-3 thriller to Angola in their last match of the Group (D). The junior national teams have a pool of great Namibian future talents and Kambanda singled out inspirational Rundu Chiefs and Brave Warriors midfielder Petrus Shitembi as the best player he ever played with.
Despite the Brave Warriors recent 2-1 loss to Morocco in a friendly, Kambanda believes they still have a chance to qualify for Brazil 2014 and his advice to all young upcoming footballers is to work hard as it pays at the end of the day.
In a telephonic interview with V-sports, the team manager at Benfica, Mr Aaron Shipanga says “He (Kambanda) is a hardworking player, he have respect for his fellow teammates, respect for the management and he was our best player in the 2011/12 season.”
Kambanda is the reigning Benfica Player of the Year, after picking up the award in the 2011/12 season. He was also Benfica’s top goal scorer during the same season with an incredible 23 goals. “Last season I scored 23 goals, that time I was playing as a left wing”. The 2012/13 season has not started yet, but it could kick off next month he believes. When someone says, ‘the sky is the limit’, it’s actually a limitation set upon one’s self, because for Kambanda, nothing seems to be a limit.