‘I want to play for the Zebras’ - Shillinde
by Tshepo Molwane
Ramotswa-born midfielder, Bobby Shillinde, who plies his trade for struggling AFC Wimbledon in League Two in England, has called on Zebras’ head coach Stanley Tshosane to consider him for future camps.
Shillinde, who moved to England as a 13-year-old in 2005 to join his mother who is a nurse, believes that the time has come to represent the country of his birth.
“I know I’m an unknown player in Botswana, especially that I came here at an early age but I believe I have what it takes to play for the national team. I was born and raised in Botswana and it would be an honour to wear the national colours irrespective of the league I’m playing in. It has always been my dream to play for the Zebras and I’ve no doubt that I’m ready,” said Shillinde in an interview from Wimbledon.
Shillinde believes that he can only be known to Batswana if he can get a call-up to come showcase his skills. But the main question is who is Bobby Shillinde?
“I was born on the 5th of January 1992 and my mother was a nurse at Kanye Main Clinic. She moved to England to pursue her studies when I was a youngster and later worked here. I joined her in 2005 and like they say the rest is history. I have been with AFC Wimbledon for two years after being spotted by their scouts. My favourite position is right midfield,” he said.
Shillinde has been registered with the club’s Under-21 who are the reserves to the first team. At the time of going to print, Shillinde had played eight games for the first team and 19 for the reserves. Though it is always difficult to make a grade in the European Leagues, especially when you come from Africa, Shillinde points out that if you work hard nothing is impossible.
“I’m a man of strong faith so I believe God has given me grace to showcase my talent whenever I go into the field of play,” he added. Last year, the midfielder attended trials with English Premiership side Queens Park Rangers (QPR) but he did not make the grade. He pointed out that failing to win a contract with QPR did not dishearten him. “I’ll continue working hard maybe one day I’ll be able to break into the Premiership. It was an honour for me to go there for trials,” said the 21-year-old.
Shillinde pointed out that he has enjoyed every moment he has spent at AFC Wimbledon as the people there are professionals. To date, he dreams of becoming more of a regular with the first team.
Wimbledon are coached by one of the respected managers in English football, Neal Ardley.
When contacted for comment, Ardley said, “I can confirm that he is registered with our Under-21 reserves but has plenty of first team experience. He is very well disciplined, hard working youngster with abundance of pace and skill. Bobby has been with us from the 2010/2011 season and one thing I admire about the youngster is his persistence. He has always proven his worth in the team.”
According to Ardley, Shillinde has a bright future in football as long as he continues working hard. “There is no doubt that he would be promoted next season (to the first team),” added Ardley.
In recent times there have been calls from some soccer lovers for the Zebras’ coach Stanley Tshosane to cast his net wide and check if there are no Botswana-born players abroad who can come and help in improving the performance of our team.
Tshosane said on Friday that his search for players is on but he has not been successful.
“It is important to have our best players for the remainder of 2014 World Cup qualifiers. I would like to have a look at him (Shillinde) and I would be grateful if you can help me out with his information. I have even called Pako Lekgare (who is based in Namibia) for our next camp,” said Tshosane.
Locally, Shillinde works closely with football agent Comfort ‘Big Fish’ Ramatebele, who pointed out that there are lots of Botswana players abroad who can come help in improving the fortunes of the Zebras.
“All we need to do is to identify these footballers and invite them to the national team camps. Other countries are surviving with players who were born in those respective countries but have long left for Europe and other continents,” added Ramatebele.