The 2007/8 Mascom Premier League has come and gone. It was a season filled with exhilarating moments that are going to take ages to forget.
For instance, Mochudi Centre Chiefs won the league for the first time in their history. In addition to that, they did it in style because they did not lose a single game, thus setting a new record in local soccer.
The team’s pompous Public relation officer, Clifford Mogomotsi, has even gone on record saying the period of thirsty years it took them to win the league would also be experienced by other teams who will still have to break their record.
Kgatleng District might have ululated in appreciation for a job well done, but there was a trend in the elite league that some observers say looks unhealthy for local soccer, especially in the technical department.
Of the 16 teams that took part, only three were consistently coached by local coaches while the rest were under the tutelage of foreign coaches.
What can also be taken note of is the fact that almost all the so-called big teams and those that finished in respectable positions are in the hands of the foreign coaches.
The champions, Mochudi Centre Chiefs and runners up, Gaborone United, are in the hands of foreign coaches from Zambia.
Uniao Flamengo Santos, which finished in third place, may have been with a local coach for the last few games of the season but, for some time, they were coached by a Zambian, Raphael Phiri, who has since relocated to last year’s champions, Ecco City Greens. When Ecco City won the championship last season, they were under another foreigner, Barry Daka, who has since joined Police XI.
Even crowd pullers, Township Rollers, are under the tutelage of a foreigner who took over from a local coach, Daniel Nare.
On the other hand, fourth positioned Nico United are also under the tutelage of a foreigner, Madinda Ndlovu.
A notable local coach is Nare who guided Gunners to eighth position but after a long struggle. He took over the team towards the end of the first round when they were rooted at the bottom of the league.
The other few teams that were in the hands of local coaches struggled dearly and nearly made it but to the lower division. Typical examples are Mogoditshane Fighters, Boteti Young Fighters and BDF XI.
Already the army side is on the brink of relegation because they have been condemned to the playoffs. Playoffs being tricky, whether the team is good or not, it is bound to make it to the lower division.
The technical officer of the Botswana Football Association, Philemon Makhwengwe, has expressed concern about the trend.
Makgwengwe said the onus is on the clubs to give local coaches a chance.
“It is very rare to see local teams giving a local coach a chance. There are many good local coaches who can do the job better than foreigners,” he said.
Makgwengwe also added that most local coaches are more qualified than foreigners and it is surprising to see foreigners always getting top posts ahead of the latter. He emphasised that many locals have advanced certificates while foreigners have intermediate. He also cautioned that the revolt situation in South Africa by the locals against foreigners, which is seen as xenophobic, might even erupt from local coaches.
Makgwengwe expressed concern that there is no policy in the country that governs the number, qualifications and even movement of foreign coaches.
“We have been advocating for that for as long as I cannot remember but to little avail. If you look at those countries which most of our coaches come from, they rarely have outsiders. Even in Europe, for a foreigner to coach any club, he needs to have a certain minimum qualification.
Here in Botswana, it is not the case and we do not know when it is going to change,” he said. Makhwengwe stressed that foreigners are also bad news for local soccer because they are mainly results orientated and Botswana mainly needs those who are more into development.
He said the teams that normally do well under foreigners rarely maintain the same standard once the concerned coach leaves.