Ramatebele becomes Botswana’s first football agent
by Tshepo Molwane
When Comfort ‘Big Fish’ Ramatebele was sacked through an SMS and email by the Botswana Golf Union on December 10 2007, it appeared to be the end of the road for him. This is despite the fact that Ramatebele was credited with improving the image of the union.
While some sports people were shocked at the decision, many wrote an obituary for the well-built Serowe-born sports administrator, especially since not long before, he was shown the door by the Premier League office where he served as an administrator.
Instead of bowing his head in shame, the ever-confident Ramatebele said, “With the passion I have for sport, I will always be serving sport one way or another.”
At the time those who did not believe in him thought it was just a mere statement. Having gone through difficult times both at the Botswana Golf Union and Botswana Premier League, the experiences opened his eyes. He opted to open a company called Glamour Sports International, which will serve sports “one way or another”.
The biggest deal they landed in few months of operation was when they secured a million-Pula sponsorship for the Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) from cellular company, Mascom.
It was a big deal, which, to Ramatebele, showed him that he can help improve the standard of sports in Botswana in many ways. Landing the deal for BVF did not attract him headlines from the media unlike when he recently became the first football agent in Botswana.
He was only listed by FIFA as an agent in the past week and already he has received calls from other agents from as far away as Germany, Japan, France and the United Kingdom who are enquiring about his services. It has not been easy for Ramatebele to be an approved agent.
He had to write an examination, which he passed on the third attempt. When he thought his troubles were done, he was required to pump out P667, 000 as surety in case something goes wrong. It was not easy but in the end, Ramatebele got a breakthrough thanks to an Italian sports and events insurance brokers called Hart Special Risks based in Genoa.
But the main thing is, what really motivated Ramatebele to be a football agent knowing the complications?
“Having been involved in football administration and being driven by the passion I have for this game, I realized that every transfer window a lot of local players go through hell. Some of the football administrators do not deal with the players in good faith and some even spend months without playing because clubs would be involved in a tug of war over their ownership. So I felt that being a football agent, I would be able to represent these players and serve their interests,” said Ramatebele.
While he is also driven by the prospect of making more money in selling the players, Ramatebele said it is important that he represents the players in a transparent manner.
“I’m going to ensure that when a player moves from one club to another, the right procedures are followed. We have to put players’ welfare before our personal interests. For example, in Europe when Cristiano Ronaldo is transferred, you know his value and his earnings. But here you never hear such things. That has to change and we should run the transfers in a transparent manner,” he continued.
Ramatebele added that he has already approached elite side Uniao Flamengo Santos about the possibility of dealing with their players and they have given him their blessing.
He said that he also had an informal discussion with giants Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Township Rollers but he remains optimistic.
Ramatebele advised players that it is important for them to use him to get the best deals.
“The qualification of the Zebras (to the 2012 African Nations Cup) has put me in a great stead because now people know more about Botswana football. Our players stand a chance to benefit because more agents will frequent our shores,” he said.
According to Ramatebele, the money required from him by FIFA is to ensure the safety of players. There were cases in the past where agents took players to certain countries for trials and abandoned them hence FIFA has decided to guard against that.
Ramatebele has paid tribute to Member of Parliament for Shoshong, Dikgang Makgalemele and businessman Solly Reikeletseng for having supported him through thick and thin.
“I am who I am because of their support.”
He also thanked Botswana Football Association (BFA) communications and marketing officer, Phakamile Kraai, for having worked tirelessly in ensuring that he gets listed by the world-governing body as an agent.
Being a radio deejay at Duma fm, a football agent and sports journalist, one wonders how Ramatebele manages on daily basis.
“I also boast of a strong office staff which ensures that Glamour Sports International run efficiently even when I am not there. It’s hectic but I’m confident that we’re going in the right direction,” he said with a smile. Ramatebele said that he is not worried about people who deemed him as a failure after what happened in the past.
Being a God-fearing person, he believes that everything happened for a reason.
“If people are going to start reflecting on the negatives then it will be quite unfortunate. I still believe that when I was running football and golf I did my best under the circumstances. I’m not going to battle against convincing our own (football) people that I have what it takes to be a top agent,” he concluded.