The improvement in performance of the Botswana national teams in the past year has shown that the country has potential to compete with the rest of the world.
It was definitely unbelievable to see a country of Botswana’s caliber beating heavy weights like China, South Korea and Japan, Morocco, Cameroon and Tunisia. This even resulted in several countries taking note of Botswana players. Some of the local players are destined to play outside the country, especially in neighbouring South Africa.
Already, for the first time, Botswana has exported a coach, David Bright, to South Africa, and he coaches a Premier League team, Cape Town Santos. He is the first coach from Botswana to coach in the professional league.
Bright might recommend some of the local players to some teams in South Africa thus increasing the pool. However, the little achievement by national soccer team might sooner be a thing of the past and we might revert back to being the whipping boys of African soccer.
Unless the Premier League teams’ management does something, a gloomy picture is looming.
Most of the players, especially those who have the potential of making it abroad, might not make it because of their unbecoming behaviour, especially outside the field of play.
Information turned up by Sunday Standard is that excessive abuse of alcohol and consumption of hard substances among promising players is the order of the day.
The Sunday Standard has also learned that some of the local players failed to make the grade in professional leagues because of their abuse of hard substances. One prominent football official, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Sunday Standard that the situation is worrying and if teams cannot do something, Botswana football is going nowhere.
“If it was not for that this country could definitely go far in football. We could be heavily competing against the best in the world. Of course, everybody is entitled to a private life, but what is happening among our players is a shame. Some of them do it openly and what message are they sending to other aspiring players? In Europe, off the field behaviour counts a lot and all the successful players have disciplined lifestyles. Here it is a big shame because we are still amateurs and we should at least try to talk to our players, time in and out,” the official said.
He also added that some of the country’s players failed abroad not because they were not good enough, but because medical exams failed them. He said once players fail medical exams the chances of having unhealthy lifestyles are very high.
Currently, Botswana has only four professional players based in South Africa. They are Mogogi Gabonamong, Diphetogo Selolwane, Michael Mohaladi and Joseph Phetogo. Only Gabonamong and Selolwane play in the Premier League while the other two are in the First Division.
Meanwhile, Township Rollers Managing Director, Somerset Gobuiwang, decried the situation saying teams have to do more.
He, however, said at Rollers, they are trying all they can to show players the right way. Gobuiwang also said no matter how they relay the message to the players, at the end of the day, the onus lies with them to take care of their lives.
“To be honest, at Township Rollers, we are trying and I have never heard of unruly behaviour of our players in recent times. We are always speaking to our players telling them that they can make a living through football as is the case in other countries. The situation is worrying and, as teams, we have to come up with mechanisms to help the players,” he said.