Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Ace Tshambane-Football’s unsung hero

The Copper and Nickel town of Selebi-Phikwe is renowned for having produced football players of unprecedented ability, some of whom went on to don the Na¬tional team jersies with pride, when football was played for the love of the game and not money.

Strangely, very little credit, or none at all is accorded the man who has been doing the dirty work in this sleepy small town.

The man is none other than Patrick “Ace” Tshambane.

Those who know Ace say football runs through his veins.

Last week, Ace proved his true mettle when he took his team FC Palapye, to the play offs to try their luck in qualification games for first division.

Many are beginning to say that a man of Tshambane’s calibre could be utilized in national set-ups.

“Yes, Ace is well equipped than most coaches of our national teams. You just have to look at the quality of players he produced to immediately realise his talent. Ace is to Botswana what Jomo Sono is to South Africa,” said Phikwe football Administrator, Sechoni Masowa.

Soccer followers will remember the exciting Phikwe Pirates side of the 90s, which he led as financier and coach.

The team shot straight from the third to the first division.

When the magic man relocated to Serowe, the team collapsed.

Among the players that Tshambane produced are Nelson “Viola” Gabolwelwe and Richard Gabaitsane (BDFXI), Odirile “Biemba” Gaolebale, Derrick “Bhamjee” Malunga and Elliot Checkers (retired at BDF XI), Chris “Masauso” Lepenga ( currently inactive but with Tlokweng United), Jackson Legodi (Police XI), Mogolodi “Stix” Chepete (FC Satmos), Raymond “Nesta” Gabothulwe (currently inactive), Pele Mashakola (ex- Nico) Lebobonyemang “Boyo” Temogo (Inactive), Bashin Mashakola (Tasc), Otlaadisa “TRX” Mohambi (BMC),Seagiso “Tornado” Tito (Jwaneng Comets), Marios Modise (Inactive) King Kilego (Boteti Young Fighters), Phineas “Jiki” Maimela (ex-Police XI) and many others.

Sadly, many of the above players have had to quit the game due to school commitments.

But to all of them, Tshambane remains a father figure.

During his heydays in Phikwe, he would tell his charges that they should come to the football grounds only if their school schedule was not tight.

“By so saying, we knew that Ace cared about our welfare. We would want to deliver for him once we had a chance,” said one of his former products.

What is interesting about Tshambane was that even players from rival teams looked up to him. In the off season, they could be seen training with Phikwe Pirates and the mentor accommodated and treated them all equally.

Having resurfaced in Palapye, it is likely that the Tswapong region, renowned for producing fine players, is going to benefit from Tshambane’s passion for football.

A flashback will bring to the fore an all-conquering Selebi-Phikwe Secondary School football team of the 90s. The core of that team was under the wing of Tshambane. He would even lend his coaching skill to the school team.

FC Palapye is set to feature in the northern first division promotional playoffs this coming weekend. The side is the bookmakers’ choice to gain promotion to the Med Rescue league. Watch this space.


Read this week's paper