Monday, September 21, 2020

Institutional teams produce the cream of Botswana’s soccer players

For years now, there has been a standoff between institutional and community teams.
Institutional teams are seen as having an unfair advantage over community teams because they use government resources while community teams have to fend for themselves.

This then means that once there are no sponsors for community teams, institutional teams run amok and win everything on offer as once happened in the late 1990s.

BDF XI and Mogoditshane Fighters were ruling the roost and won major tournaments.
The standoff went on to become uglier to the extent that it was eventually agreed that disciplined forces (BDF, Police XI, etc) should only support one team.

Before the agreement, institutional teams easily recruited players from community teams and gave most of them jobs and thus crippling the community-sponsored teams.

Players that come to mind are the likes of Phineas ‘Jiki’ Maimela, Dennis Kaelo, (Police XI), Macro Makubate, Cocorico ‘Matimbi’ Mnese, Odirile Gaolebale (BDF XI). These players all came from one team: Township Rollers.

Others include the likes of Ditaola Ditaola and Nelson ‘Viola’ Gabolwelwe who both joined Police XI and BDF XI, respectively, from Gaborone United.
Just recently BDF XI added to their nest Jones Kwape from Notwane. The situation between the teams even divided football and led to the formation of a parallel soccer body called the Botswana Soccer Association.

Institutional teams are still complaining that they are being treated unfairly because they do not generate enough gate takings as was the case in the past. Institutional teams have contributed vastly to the development of soccer in Botswana.
So far, some of the country’s top coaches, like Losika Keatlholetswe, Major David Bright, Stanley Tshosane, Teenage Mpote, Tazza ‘Seth’ Moleofhi and Isaiah Sthandwa Mogwadi are from disciplined teams. Keatlholetswe won many tournaments while still at BDF XI and is currently occupying one of the country’s football hot seats. He oversees all the technical matters in the country.

When national teams are not performing well, fingers are pointed at him, and when they do well, he is the one showered with accolades. The Zebras might have not gone anywhere as far as Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup were concerned but, so far, there is noticeable improvement.

Local football has grown tremendously in the past few years and it was Keatlholetswe who was at the helm.

Major Bright is the first and only local coach to be engaged in a professional set up. He is currently at Cape Town Santos in the South African Premier League. Before heading there, he was at both BDF XI and Mogoditshane Fighters where he won many major tournaments than any other local coach.
Bright mostly enjoyed his time at Mogoditshane Fighters where his team was ruling the roost.
Tshosane also does not need any introduction to local soccer lovers as he has also won several tournaments at BDF XI and was part of the famous Zebras team that was under the tutelage of Jellusic Vesselin. Tshosane was an assistant as the Zebras won games people did not expect them to win.
Mpote and Moleofhi had successful stints at the now relegated Tasc Confidence.

Mpote is now at Serowe side, Miscellenious, and is trying to help it to gain promotion to the Premier League.

Moleofhi, on the other hand, is at the helm of Great North Tigers that he helped gain promotion this season.

Mogwadi had his fare share of success at Police XI, including the league championship.
Institutional teams also produced many excellent players who even did duty for the national team. The prominent one to date is Modiri Marumo who is playing for Egyptian side, Haras Elhodoud. It was a major achievement for Marumo considering how difficult for southern Africans to break into professional ranks as a goalkeeper. That says a lot about his team, BDF XI.

Marumo still commands the first choice position in the national team because there is no serious challenger.

Other fine players from institutional teams are the likes of Mompati Thuma, Ndiapo Letsholathebe, Edwin Disang and Nelson Gabolwelwe. Former ones include the late Oliver Pikati and Mmoloki ‘Zara’ Ramanoko.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.