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Elifhas 'Safile' Shivute

Elifhas Shivute signing a contract with Dirk Lehmann from Scottish football club, Motherwell FC.
Eliphas Shivute affectionately known as “Safile” (Elifas spelled backwards) is a Namibian sport legend as well as international footballer born on 27 September 1974 in Olukonda, Oshikoto region. He grew up in Walvis Bay together with his peer friend Harry Simon, the former world boxing champion. He retired from football due to a knee injury sustained in 2002 after a protracted football career he spent in China, Europe as well as with national team. Shivute was a complete phenomenal player and a marvel striker to watch in his heydays.

Personal Life

Safile's rise to the role of international football epitome has not been achieved without risks; he threw away his education and the prospect of a good job in the mining industry - to follow his dream of becoming professional footballer. Shivute has tested hardship while in Walvis Bay, imagine woke up each morning going to Ekutulatika old compound just to play dices as a form of earning living, for that poverty awareness he had Shivute worked hard to become a successful sportsman. Eliphas Shivute got married to Justine in 2003 and is a father of four children, two daughter and two sons. The eldest daughter Monica (26) followed by Kwashi (boy: 23), Andrew (18) and Anastacia (14).

National Team 

Shivute made his first appearance with the Brave Warriors during the match between Madagascar 3 and Namibia 0 in 1992.  After signed for the football club in Germany, Safile became the first Namibian to play for a top-level side in Europe, and also to be a player who been part of the national team since 1992, earned 49 caps and scored 8 times. Shivute scored the first international goal for the Brave Warriors. With Namibia he was runner-up at 1997 and 1999 COSAFA Cup. He represented Namibia at the 1998 African Cup of Nations in Burkina Faso where he scored two goals in a 3-4 loss to Ivory Coast.

Eliphas Shivute frustrated during World Qualifier's match, Morocco vs Namibia @Matthew Ashton.
Shivute he being described as a striker with much improvisation and audacity, a great finisher,with flair, speed, and shooting power in both foot and header. Perhaps Bafana Bafana’s defender Willem Jackson would have given a better account to describe about the qualities possessed by Safile, because Jackson was given a tough time in both the encounters when the Warriors met Bafana Bafana, to say the least.

Jackson used all sorts of gadgets he had and other “inventions” that he could think of, he even resorted in using his hands to literally hold Safile down not to go through but the Namibian international was too tactical and his passes were more than Jackson could imagine. The fans have rejoiced in some spectacular football, when he tormented the much-fortified Ivorian rearguard with amazing pace. Safile’s fourth goal in the 4-1 thrashing of Malawi during the first COSAF Castle Cup was such a compendium of footballing virtues.

Club Career 

Shivute started playing football in 1989 with Blue Waters FC in Walvis Bay and later Eleven Arrows FC. He had his first trial stint with Borussia Moenchengladbach youth club in Germany but he could not be registered with the team because he was already over 23 years of age. The German Football Federation has a regulation that any foreign player in the amateur league should not be older than 23 years of which he was, unfortunately. Was this the end of Shivute’s football dream? Never!

In 1996 Shivute was invited again to Germany, and this time to play with Schwarz-Weiss Duren, when he arrived at Duren, under manager Joe Franken, the team was third from bottom of the league but the team became the third from top largely due to Shivute’s scoring prowess. At one remarkable match he scored 13 goals in a short spell include the hat trick for Duren during league matches that saw the Alemannia Aachen scouts spotted him and immediately entered into negotiations for a contract.

Timeline
  • 1989–1990 Blue Waters
  • 1990–1991 Eleven Arrows
  • 1996 Schwarz-Weiß Düren
  • 1997 Alemannia Aachen
  • 1997–1999 Motherwell
  • 1999–2001 Dalian Wanda FC
  • 2000 → Eleven Arrows (loan)
  • 2001 → Shenzhen Ping'an Kejian (loan)
  • 2001–2002 Čukarički Stankom
  • 1992–2001 National team (Brave Warriors)
He joined Aachen a senior side in the Ruhr Rhine region where most successful teams such as Cologne, Dortmund and Schalke hail from.  As a kid Safile followed attentively the British and Scottish football updates through TV and devouring sport's magazines learning about players and events that living/occurring thousands of miles away. According to the Daily Record, Safile has had trials with Dundee United FC and Hearts FC earlier, but Shivute decided to go for Motherwell FC in Scotland instead.

As soon as he saw Alex “Eck” McLeish, the big red-haired Motherwell manager he recognized him, and this has built rapport connection and trust between the management. He scored twice in his trial match that impressed Motherwell manager Alex McLeish, which Shivute admired.  His first full match debut in the Scottish Premier League side Motherwell, they played a blistering match against one of the biggest club, Hibernians F.C. that resulted into draw. McLeish was impressed with Safile and singled him out for praise. That specific match earned him the “Player of the Match” award.

Celtic's Tom Boyd tackling a ball from Eliphas Shivute (L) of Motherwell during the match Celtic v Motherwell at Parkhead on Apr 1998. (final score 4-1 to celtic) (Photo by Chris Bacon - PA).
The Sunday Mail report described him as “slick Namibian winger” with mazy runs who had Hibernians defence in sixes and sevens. He kept the home (Scottish) fans to their feet to acclaim him for the type of player who has not been seen in Motherwell colours for many years. Safile had been playing more as a schemer-striker, drifting in and around the box - displaying qualities that set him apart from the rest - ability to create space for himself and eliminate defenders and shoot from the tightest of spaces and angle

From 1997 he played with Motherwell as striker until 1999 when he moved to China after signing with Jia-A League club Dalian Wanda FC in what appeared to be the costliest signing ever made by then, ₤350.000. After one season in 2000 he shortly returned to Namibia playing for half season for his former club Eleven Arrows in Namibia. From there the football business turned sour with Safile thus he decided to look for some greener pastures in Europe, moving from one capital city to another without success.

Awards

COSAFA Cup runner-up: 
  • - 1997
  • - 1999
Personal Awards:
  • - Sportsman of the Year: 1997 (Attributed by Namibia National Sport Council)
  • - Player of the Match Award (Motherwell FC, Scotland)
He returned back to Asia to join another Chinese top football club Shenzhen Ping'an Kejian where he played on loan until December 2001 before moved on to Europe for 8-months short period with Serbian club FK Čukarički Stankom in the former, Yugoslavia. Safile was an instrumental in helping the transferring of Rudolph Bester  his country mate to that club, in 2008 later he acted as an agent of Bester. In 2006, he became assistant manager of the local club, the Invincible FC. It came as no surprise when he walked away with a “Sportsman of the Year” for 1997 at the sport gala organized by the Namibia National Sport Council in Windhoek. Our young and upcoming footballers should emulate his example.

Namibia players in conversation with the Referee involved a foul play (Photo by Matthew Ashton)

Social Contribution

Shivute played a big role not only in general sports, but also in social welfare like education: He donated school uniforms to 86 orphans and vulnerable pupils at his home village of Olukonda. The donation includes N$30 000 towards school uniforms as well as N$55 000 for the construction extra shading at the local school. Shivute obtained a sponsorship of N$200 000 that he secured from San Fishing (Pty) Limited to give three beneficiary schools in the Oshikoto and Oshana regions, mainly (Olukonda Primary School, Onezizi Combined School and others). Shivute is a shareholder in the fishing company.
I was born in Olukonda and I am fully aware of the condition of the children and people of my community, many of the children are from poverty-stricken backgrounds and I know how it feels to grow up in poverty. It is bitter, inconvenient, difficult and embarrassing to be among others who are better off -SAFILE
The education inspector for the Onathinge circuit in Oshikoto Region, Naemi Amuthenu, and former regional councillor for Olukonda constituency Fillemon Ndjambula, were present at the event and express their gratitude. Shivute told them, “I decided to invest in children because our nation's hopes rely on these children, while our children's hope relies on education and their education relies on us.

 Shivute mingling among school kids giving donation to Primary Schools in Northern Namibia.
They are our future leaders and for them to have a better future it must come through education.” Olukonda Primary School has 265 learners of which 115 are orphans and vulnerable children. The children received a school jersey, blouse, trousers, skirts for the girls, shoes and school bags. Shivute urged other successful Namibians also to plough back into the communities where they come from and especially to those who need their help.
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