Almost two years ago, Green Lovers owner/coach Onthusitse Kootswele nearly gave up on his dreams of taking the youthful Serowe club to the Premier League. This was after his side was involved in a horrific car accident which led to the death of midfield anchorman Kesego Lehoko.
At the time, they were on their way to Francistown to honour a League fixture against Amakhosi. The death of Lehoko took a toll on his teammates and to make matters worse, some of the community members blamed Kootswele for the death of the youngster.
It was trying times for the Green Lovers boss and it took the intervention of FIFA development officer Ashford Mamelodi to convince Kootswele to continue running the club. “It was a difficult moment for everyone involved in the club especially me. The accident was a blow for the club because he (Lehoko) was a key member of the club. I nearly gave up because I received a lot of abuse from some quarters and I felt what I was doing for the village was not appreciated. When I formed this club, my intention was to keep the youth away from wrongdoings.
After Mamelodi came to my house to show me the way that is when I decided to continue with this project. I’m glad that after the hardwork that everyone has put, we managed to take the club to the Promised Land that is Premier League,” said Kootswele.
He pointed out that when they started the project some years ago, his main idea was to take unschooled youth out of the streets by playing football. “I have passion for youth development hence most of my players are under the age of 23. I’ve been able to keep these boys out of bad things because during the week it’s training and on weekends we travel to the games. This has been helpful because we don’t know where they could be if it was not for football,” said Kootswele. Green Lovers came second in the First Division North during the 2014/15 and they had to play a Promotional match against Mogoditshane Fighters who were also second in the First Division South. In the first leg match played at SSKB Stadium in Mogoditshane, Green Lovers won the match 1-0 before playing to a 2-2 draw in the return match at Serowe Sports Stadium.
“Nobody gave us a chance in that match because Fighters had experienced players in their squad. But we fought by all means and got promoted. The challenge that faces us is to prepare for life in the Premier League,” said the boss. He believes that his side can compete with the likes of Mochudi Centre Chiefs, Township Rollers, Gaborone United and many others. While he strongly believes in his squad, Kootswele pointed out that there is a need to strengthen some areas in the squad. “I’m not going to sign players who have been rejected by other Premier League clubs.
Already there are players who have made contact with me but I’m not interested. I am going out for unknown players who will be hungry to make a name for themselves in the Premier League,” he said. Kootswele said that their main challenge at the moment is that they do not have financial backup but he has no doubt that God will lead them. “Most of the business people here prefer to help Miscellaneous (who have also been promoted to the Premier League). We’re a small club but I believe that we’ll continue to make ends meet in order to make our name in the topflight. I’m appealing to the business community to help us because we’ll need funds to travel to Gaborone, Jwaneng, Lobatse and many other places when we are not playing at home,” he said.