Saturday, May 30, 2020

Are Diamond mining teams facing resurgence?

For quite a number of years, the country’s towns where diamonds are mined had many soccer teams. Employees of the mines were the ones who mainly played or ran those teams. In Jwaneng, there were teams like Jwaneng Comets, Blue Diamonds and Cosmos Blizards. Orapa on the other hand comprised of Orapa Bucs, White Diamonds, Diamond Chiefs, Boteti Young Fighters and Orapa Wanderers.

What’s important to take note of is that during that era, most teams were concentrated in the First Division. It was not easy for them to stay in the elite league. Teams that once tasted Premier League action in Jwaneng were Jwaneng Comets and Blue Diamonds. Comets were kind of yo-yo performers as they were always relegated only to get promoted the following season or the one after. In Orapa, Boteti Young Fighters and Orapa Wanderes are the teams that had the experience of the Premier League but that did not last. Most other teams were mainly in the First Division North.

However some few years ago diamonds teams underwent transformations as most of them merged to form strong teams. In the North, a merge led to the birth of Orapa United. Already Orapa United are fighting for honours in the Premier League as they are in the second place behind pace setters, Mochudi Centre Chiefs. Under the tutelage of Maxwell Moyo, United have of late been untouchable. What is even more interesting is the fact that most players of the team are not well known but are causing havoc. On the other hand, Jwaneng Comets started bolstering their squad last season by acquiring Premier League players with impeccable experience. Some of such players are the duo of international players, Gerge Musa Ohilwe and Boitumelo Mafoko.

However the resurgence in form of Orapa United is mainly attributed to the merging of mining teams in Orapa. This is according to the team spokesperson, Tebatso Hule. “We are currently not competing against ourselves and the resources we have are all put into one place and this is working well for us. Also the community around Orapa is united and that is a motivation on its own to the players. If you also look at a team like Mochudi Centre Chiefs, it is successful and doing well because there are not many teams in Kgatleng and the whole community is behind it,” he said. Hule also stressed that access to good facilities is also working well for the team. “To be honest the good facilities we have are also playing a major role into the performance of our team. Our players train on turf on a daily basis and they find it easy to play in the stadiums. Other teams train on dusty ground and mainly use turf during matches. I believe this can have adverse effect on the players,” he said.

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Sunday Standard May 24 – 30

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of May 24 - 30, 2020.