Despite being on the third spot of the First Division Log, Unio Flamingo Santos hope to return to the elite Super League the next season; its Assistant Coach, Innocent Ranku has revealed in an interview.
Ranku, the team’s former player said the worst of their challenges in the team is the lack of funds, which robbed it of its motivation, including manpower.
“Our greatest challenge is finance, finance, finance! The lack of this resource has turned our team into a development team, a service which we do almost freely. Our relegation to the first division has led to teams with financial muscle taking our players away. And if a player needs money which we cannot offer, the best thing is to let them go. But the sad part is that most of the players you see moving from one team to another are not necessarily contracted. It is just your word against that team’s; no written proof attests to that. Life goes on…” said Ranku in a soft voice, face expressing discontent. He explained that the team has never had a reliable sponsor but depended on some of its leadership who sacrificed their resources to keep the team afloat, and it seems their pockets are also drying out. To this date the team has not yet devised means or sourced funding.
“Luckily we have some committed members of the society who sacrifice their time and career expertise to help keep the team in modern soccer standards. We have, for instance, someone who used to play for us who happens to be a nurse by profession. He is helping with physiotherapy and related services for the players’ fitness. On other requirements I can say it is tough, but we are trying hard,” said Ranku.
He said the exodus of skillful players from their team led to them starting on low pace. This crippled them as a team, but experience has helped them recover quickly.
Then as everything he had to say seemed to circulate around what appears to be the team’s current misfortunes, Ranku smiled, recalling with melancholy, the good old days.
“When the two teams merged, Gabane Santos was in the first division while Flamingo was in the second division. When they merged I was loaned to Mochudi Centre Chiefs. That time our team had some fine players in Nandos Koko, Vincent Phiri, Modisakgomo, Booster, Thabo Mothibi, Pure Paul among others,” his voice was raised a bit.
He said when they were promoted to higher league, they had other players like Abedi Beronse-the Tanzanian star, Hummer and Shoes Motlhabani. Younger players from the Flamingo development team also joined them.
“After joining the Premier league we nearly relegated. By then we were coached by Major David Bright. We succeeded in bringing in experienced players like Seabo, Patrick Mathaba and Pius Kolagano. Bright had to go and we roped in Clever Hunda, deputised by Pio Paul. That paid dividends as we moved from the bottom of the table to its middle,” he said.
He recalled that the following season (dates forgotten), the development team brought in more players like Boitshoko Zikhale, Godfrey Ngele, Thapelo Sethebethe, Keabetswe Jenamiso and sheer luck attracted for them, Ringo Rankgomo from Comets.
As a final word Ranku called on the teams fans to come and assist it. The team needs them more when times are tough like it is the situation right now. He said, “Where we underperform is where we need more support than when we are performing well.”