Township Rollers coach Mark Harrison says he is relishing the chance to build the team into a great force in the region. The Englishman, who was roped in to lead the club at the start of the season, says his team has the potential to be one of the biggest in the region and he is keen to explore the potential. Speaking in an interview, the well travelled Harrison, who has coached different clubs in England, South Africa and Zimbabwe, says Rollers is comparable to the biggest clubs in the region. “This club I guess is like Chiefs, Pirates and Sundowns in South Africa compared with the support base, that’s how it is. If you go to Zimbabwe it is like Dynamos, Caps United or Highlanders. Wherever you go, there is always a full stadium because the supporters come from all over the country… So, there is three or four clubs in South Africa which you can compare to Rollers really in terms of support,” the Rollers coach says.
“What we need to do now is grow the club to be on a par with those clubs on the field and off the field, administration wise, the way we operate and the way we play. That is where we need to go,” Harrison says. With the massive potential he sees at the club, the Rollers mentor says if given a chance, he would like to build the team into a force to be reckoned with locally. “My personal ambition would be to turn this team into a team that is not touchable within Botswana. It will probably take two to three years to get it to that point where it cannot be touched,” the Rollers gaffer explains. Despite Rollers’ big following, Harrison is however fully aware that any chance of the team reaching what he terms its ‘massive potential’ is dependent on success on the field of play.
Working with what is probably the cream of Botswana players at Rollers, Harrison says his immediate objective is to take the team a notch up from where he found it as well as to help young players at his disposal to reach their potential. “I am hoping that whenever I leave this club, I would have left something better than when I got here,” the Rollers gaffer says. “We have got some quality players here. Obviously we have picked a few players who have come back from South Africa and we have got Carl (Finnigan) from overseas. We have got that quality which mingles with the lot of local youngsters we got as well as players who show fantastic amount of natural ability, which I guess my job is to try and help them develop technically and tactically as well. If we can do that, then hopefully they can have a future elsewhere where they can earn big money. I think my job also is to try and effect them mentally and make them strong mentally and prepare them for hopefully bigger and better things,” Harrison explains. While Rollers have had a mixed start to the season, winning their first two games and drawing their next two, Harrison believes when the season comes to an end, his team ‘will be where it is supposed to be.’
At the moment, the Englishman says he is still trying to adjust to the ‘manic, thousand miles an hour game’ in Botswana, but says his team is about 60 percent close to where he wants it to be. Meanwhile, Harrison, who says he is enjoying his stay in the country, says while the game in Botswana is evolving and is getting stronger, ‘the standard and quality is still a little short of where it needs to be’ and has a little way to go. With sponsorship coming into Botswana football, Harrison says the area which will need to be looked at now is the technical development, more especially in coaching. “It’s all about learning. I am 55 and I am always learning from my peers, players and other coaches. If the coaches can improve dramatically, the players can improve dramatically and the league can grow. There is a lot of natural talent wherever you go, but it comes down to the players and understanding the game tactically and also understanding it technically,” Harrison opines.