The appointment of Dada as CEO was kept a closely guarded secret and it was very difficult to finally get her to agree to an interview. After countless calls and cajoling, the media-shy businesswoman finally agreed to sit down with this publication at her posh residence in Gaborone and open up about her plans for the club. Clad in a black suit and white blouse, Dada said she developed a strong love for Extension Gunners over the years, more so that she is the wife of former Gunners’ official, Cassim Dada.
“I’m an ardent soccer fan and I’ve lived and breathed Gunners for many years. I know this club and it’s close to my heart, that’s why I didn’t hesitate to take up the challenge of becoming CEO,” she said.
She added that there was no way she could turn Gunners down because her husband has been intimately involved with the club over the years.
“There was a time when previous coaches Zoom Ndlovu and Roy Baretto lived in my house and I cooked for them,” she said with a smile.
She revealed that she followed Gunners very closely when they dominated local football in the early 90’s. For Orayyah, being a woman does not mean that she cannot dominate what is widely regarded as a man’s world. She believes she has what it takes to wake the sleeping giants from their slumber and lead them back to the glory days of yester year.
“My main goal is to keep the club together and help it compete for top honors. Gunners are a brand and I would like to see them going back to the days when they dominated local football. I’ve set myself a target of three years. I know there will be challenges, but I also know that it can be done,” she said.
In her first days in office, Orayyah will simply be looking to learn the ropes and familiarize herself with the Gunners family. At the same time she will be guarding the interests of the club. She plans to instill a sense of professionalism in the way things are done at Gunners and she will work closely with the financial backers and the executive committee to achieve that.
“In life there are no guarantees, but if you push harder you will succeed. The fact that some projects have failed in the past does not mean we should give up. We can only achieve our goals if the Gunners’ family and supporters push in the same direction,” said Orayyah.
She plans to beef up the Gunners squad by roping in new players in the current transfer window. Gunners finished at a disappointing position 10 in the just ended season. However, the new boss hinted that she wants to catapult Mapantsula to a top four finish next season.
“We want our players to have a positive attitude which would help us attain good results. We need to make players believe. As a woman and mother I will play a major role in making them believe. We’re very confident that there is going to be a massive change,” she said.
Orayyah admitted that when she was first approached to lead the Gunners’ ship she was skeptical. But she accepted the challenge because she had a group of loving and supportive men around her.
“I know and understand that football is a game of emotions but at the end of the day we must find common ground. As a woman I know some people would doubt me but I would like to prove a point that women are also capable. I can only achieve if the people around me, including the supporters, rally behind me. I have a task in my hands. I am an Indian woman and being Muslim. But so what? Football is a universal language and it would be nice to have other women backing me up,” she said.
For Orayyah, accepting such a huge task was the beginning of an enjoyable adventure. She is not intimidated by working with men.
“Yes some people would say I’m na├»ve but we’re not going to let anyone take advantage of us. As a club we’re not desperate and we know what we want. Anyone who wants to go into partnership with Gunners must be worth it,” she concluded.