Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Days of players’ loyalty to their teams are over

Gone seem to be the days when certain players were considered permanently married to their respective teams unless offers from professional leagues outside the country came their way. In the past, no matter how hard the situation would be, so called loyal players stuck to their teams to the bitter end. For the past few years, there have been surprise movements of certain players that left tongues wagging.

Players like Pontsho ‘Piro’ Moloi, Mpho ‘Jomo’ Mabogo, Tshepho ‘Talk Talk’ Motlhabankwe and Tshephiso ‘Sox’ Molwantwa are the ones that were regarded as loyal to their respective teams only to be snapped up by other teams when least expected.
Moloi was regarded as the loyal son of Notwane while Mabogo, Motlhabankwe, and Molwantwa were loyal sons of BDF XI, Lobtrans Gunners and Township Rollers respectively.

Moloi joined Notwane as a young boy and progressed through the youth structures before his major break into the Premier League. Moloi was viewed as son of the team and Notwane stood by him even during trying times. There was a time when suspensions were the order of the day for him but some Notwane officials even went on record to say the referees hated him. Last season, many people were surprised when they learned that he had crossed over to rivals Mochudi Centre Chiefs.

The move was kind of a blessing in disguise for him because he achieved what he failed to achieve while at Notwane. He ended up as the leading goal scorer for the 2006/7 Mascom Premier League season in his first season there and has even earned himself a regular place in the national team. Mabogo was also seen as the loyal son of the army side, BDF XI and his move to Mochudi Centre Chiefs also left many people asking questions. While still a kid, Mabogo played for Matebejane, a feeder team for both BDF XI and Mogoditshane Fighters. The only minor movement he made was joining Fighters around 1999 to afford more game time because at BDF XI it was tough for him to break into the first team. The move was to afford him more game time because he was still young. Fighters were then still wholly run by the army. While at BDF XI Mabogo even at one stage was quoted as saying he would not leave BDF XI for community teams where pressure is unbearable. He achieved a lot with BDF XI and scored many vital goals. He has both the Coca Cola Cup and league championship medals.

Perhaps, Motlhabankwe’s move was to taste glory such as winning the league or Coca Cola Cup gold medals. Chiefs looked to be a suitable team for him because Centre Chiefs have since built a strong team for the past two years and will be strong contenders for major titles this season.

Motlhabankwe joined Gunners at a time when they were on a decline from championship heroes to under achievers. He was a vital cog and engine of the team but he had little to show from his loyal service. Before moving to Mochudi Centre Chiefs, Motlhabankwe was always overwhelmed by tempting offers but he turned them down due to his love for Gunners. Before he joined Gunners, Gunners won the league three times in a row. That was in 1992, 93 and 94 and in 1992 Gunners even doubled by also winning the Coca Cola cup. It was his undying loyalty to the team that convinced many people to believe that his next destination from Gunners was a team outside Botswana. His move from Gunners has stunned the soccer fraternity, especially Gunners supporters. On the other hand, his move might be a wake up call to Gunners who have fought relegation for close to a decade.

Molwantwa might have once moved from Township Rollers to Mochudi Centre way back in 1998 after a fall out with the then coach Doctor Oche Onyewadume but he made an immediate return. His last season’s move to rivals Notwane was the one that really shocked Rollers. Molwantwa got his break in football through Rollers and achieved a lot in his first season. He was also the senior player after Mmoni ‘States’ Segopolo who recently retired from active football. Molwantwa came at a time when then Rollers top striker, Joseph Chikoti, was about to leave the team in 1996 for South Africa.

After Chikoti left, Molwantwa had a huge task ahead. Even though it was tough for him to easily fill Chikoti’s boots, he kept the fires burning. Even when Rollers were relegated to the first division in 2002, Molwantwa went down with the team and helped it to bounce back. The very season they were promoted, Molwantwa led the team to win both the league and the Coca-Cola cup.

Why he eventually decided to join Notwane remains a mystery. Molwantwa still has not lost his golden touch at Notwane and continues to score vital goals. Last year, he was beaten by Moloi to the golden boot award by a solo goal. Molwantwa led from the onset only to let Moloi come back in the last game in which Pontsho scored a brace.


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