While there is no shade of doubt that some of Botswana’s football players are loyal servants to their clubs, it is clear that others are well travelled beyond explanation.
Perhaps we should dig deeper on what causes players to be on the move time and again.
One player, who has hopped from one team to another more than four times, said;
“We are pushed to leave these teams. They will make empty promises to get our signatures. They know we are not employed. We depend on football for a living.”
“I am lucky because I am employed full time somewhere,” said another player, also a victim of false promises. “These teams exploit players and if you don’t have a full time job, you cannot even seek legal action because it is expensive. It is happening here at our team, no wonder we always have a mass player exodus. I am just here because I love the team but what of those who are not working?”
Leading the pack in the category of loyal servants is erstwhile Mochudi Centre Chiefs defender, Edwin “Hlabangane” Masire. The well-built player was first registered with Chiefs in the late 1980s and he saw his playing days end at the team from the Kgatleng capital.
Township Rollers’ Mmoni “Love TKO” Segopolo also falls in that category because, since donning the blue and gold jersey in the early 90s, he never looked back. Another of the real loyal servants is Lobtrans Gunners’ Mogorosi “Ross” Motswakae.
Having joined the “Peleng Glamour Boys” in the early 90s, he is still pulling his weight for the team.
Then there is recently retired Norman “Nocha” Gumbo of Nico United. He came from Zimbabwe in the early 90s. He retired last year, after seeing all at the team. Zebras’ Alex Matshameko of BMC is another one. As he prefers to put it, “BMC Football Club is my second family.”
Ecco City Greens have their man in the number 4 jersey, Tshokolo Nkola. The guy was there to witness the birth of the team and he still plays a pivotal role in the team’s League and Cup battles.
Notwane boast of another Zimbabwean, Fabian Zulu. The versatile player was registered by “Thimi e Bosese”, as Notwane are affectionately dubbed these days. He was signed in the year when Notwane spent the entire season not participating in the league, after violating the principal rule that stipulates that no team should take the mother body, in this case, the BFA, to court.
This period saw Notwane regrouping and in the process acquiring quality players like Zulu. The player is still going strong with Notwane, having just led them to a Coca Cola Cup triumph last week.
If you think former Gaborone United skipper, Gofhamodimo “City” Senne, was loyal to the team, ponder for a moment. The Marang CJSS English teacher once left the team to join Notwane after some heated wrangles with the then GU management.
Perhaps the scale will not be too balanced if we are to include institutional teams here because most of them play there to keep their jobs. But wait a minute! The late Oliver “Fast lane” Pikati left Police XI thrice. First, he left to join GU before making a u-turn. He left again to join Police XI’s cousins, Wonder Sporting. Then he left again to rejoin GU. That was not enough for the temperamental player; he quit GU to join BDF XI before making a u-turn to Police XI.
Blue Diamonds’ Bashin Thammano is one of the most travelled players. Since he left Selebi-Phikwe based Hartlepool in the late 80s, the stylish midfielder has spend the rest of his playing days hopping from Township Rollers, Jwaneng Comets, FC Satmos and Blue Diamonds. He has never played for one team for more than four seasons.
The other one is Keitumetse “Pio” Paul, who has played for Rollers, BDF XI, Lobtrans Extension Gunners, Centre Chiefs, Uniao Flamingo Santos and Naughty Boys.
Former Zebras and Capetown Santos’ utility man, Mogogi “Gattuso” Gabonamong, is another one. He has played for Mogoditshane Fighters, FC Satmos, Centre Chiefs and Township Rollers. This includes a spell in Trinidad and Tobago.
Gaborone United’s latest signing, Seabo “Seabee” Gabanakgosi, is undoubtedly another of the players who has hit the road most. He first quit Township Rollers to join Centre Chiefs. From Chiefs, he rejoined Rollers. From Rollers, he had a brief spell in the USA, before returning to Rollers. His latest destination is Gaborone United.
Kagiso Tshelametsi, a goal minder of rare talent has not avoided hopping from one team to the other. From Township Rollers, he moved to FC Satmos so that he could have some game time. It was a wise move as he proved to be one of the top net minders in the country under the tutelage of the late Sam Sono and Mooketsi ‘China” Mading, themselves former great goalkeepers.
From Satmos, he caught the attention of the all-conquering Mogoditshane Fighters side under David Bright. This did not stop “Tshela”, as he is popularly dubbed, to move on. He left the country to join a side in Trinidad and Tobago.
Upon return, the lanky player joined Notwane before rejoining FC Satmos. From Satmos, the Mahalapye born lad landed a lucrative contract with South African Mvela League side City Pillars where he is currently playing.
The Maposa quartet is a must in this category. The first to come to prominence were the duo of Joseph and Stephen. They featured for Centre Chiefs. As they were not employed, the talented players left, at different times though, to seek fortune elsewhere. Blue Waters of Namibia was their next destination.
Joseph, however, rejoined Chiefs after a short spell in Windhoek. He later joined Gaborone United before returning to Chiefs. He is now on the books of Notwane where he is rumoured to be on his way out.
Stephen returned from Namibia to feature for Phiring Hungry Leopards before Notwane signed him. The multi-talented player left Notwane, apparently not a happy man because of lack of game time. He is apparently unattached at the moment.
Stephen’s siblings Sam and Noah have had their fair share of traveling. Sam left Chiefs for Gunners. He rejoined “Magosi” after a brief spell. As logic would dictate, Sam had to taste what his elder brothers cherished in Namibia and he followed suit. Currently, the nippy forward is rumoured to have impressed FC Satmos.
Noah has alternated between playing for Chiefs, Phiring Hungry Leopards and the Namibian outfit. Perhaps Noah is the most stable of the quartet.
A question which urgently needs our attention is: is hopping from one team to another good for the players’ chances of stacking their claim in the national team set up?
For some, like Mogogi Gabonamong, it has paid dividends, but for other players, like Sam Maposa, gifted as he is, the national team coaches have never had time to monitor his progress. For a guy who has proved to be a handful to many a defender, perhaps establishing himself at club level could be the right tonic.