Saturday, May 28, 2022

Internal wrangling continues to haunt Centre Chiefs

Mochudi Centre Chiefs is one of the popular clubs in Botswana football and when they are doing well, their supporters are a marvel to watch during games.

But it is the internal wrangling which continues to be the main stumbling block at the Kgatleng giants. Since the club’s inception in 1972, there have been many problems.

When the club was relegated in the 90s, fingers were pointed at some individuals for the demise of the team. Chiefs picked up the pieces and ensured a quick return to the elite league.

Since their return, they have been the sleeping giants of Botswana football and were the only big side that has not won the league championship. Almost three years ago, Magosi achieved a rare feat in the history of Botswana football when they played 35 official games without a loss, which saw them winning the 2007-2008 Premier League and Coca-Cola Cup.

At the time, Chiefs, under the chairmanship of Ernest Molome, had the best players in the land.
They played beautiful football and whenever they were playing, it was a full house.

Spokesperson Clifford Mogomotsi also did his part in selling the club to the masses. The following two seasons, Chiefs continued to land big-name players and finished third to Gaborone United and Township Rollers.

In March 2010, accusations of backstabbing and other problems resurfaced and it was clear that, shortly, Chiefs would be back to the old days of politics.

Accusations were pointed at Molome and his committee that they were misusing the club’s funds and some people even campaigned against them. Some even accused Molome of not belonging to Bakgatla tribe, saying he therefore had no right to lead the club. It was a bad scenario because the same people who endorsed Molome and his committee were turning against them.

Then in June 2010 at Molefi Secondary School in Mochudi, rumours turned into a reality when an interim committee was elected to oversee the transformation of the club.

The five-man committee was expected to work with Molome’s group and come up with ways of stabilizing the club’s finances which were reported being misused.

In his new role, Molome was said to be heading the technical department, which ensured the recruitment of players, coaches and others. But Molome’s committee was not happy with the new arrangement and decided not to be involved in the daily running of Magosi. When the 2010-2011 season kicked off, there were reports that some players were not happy with the new arrangement and that was evidenced when Chiefs posted mixed results. Towards end of the year, the interim committee complained that the monthly salaries of Chiefs’ players were high by Botswana standards and even suggested that they would have to reduce them.

That caused divisions amongst Chiefs’ family and some supporters who believed in Molome suggested that the interim committee be relieved of their positions.

It was once again a challenging period for Magosi. There were also reports that players have not been paid salaries for some months. Calls for Molome and his committee to get involved were made in a bid to save the club, especially that they were heading towards the January transfer window. “That was the worst period in the history of Chiefs in recent times. Some people thought running Chiefs was easy and when they realized that it wasn’t easy, they claimed that Molome’s committee was sabotaging them,” said a source on Friday.

The interim committee was supposed to have called a general meeting in December to report on their progress but they failed to convene it. Molome and his crew started showing up at Chiefs’ training sessions towards the end of the year. They were more involved in major decisions of the club and it did not come as a surprise when Chiefs landed the signature of former Township Rollers’ captain Joel Mogorosi.

“When Molome is around, there is order in this club. There is a need to reinstate him as a chairman if we need to challenge Rollers in the coming season. The interim committee has failed us and we need to go back to the committee which has proven in the past that they’re capable,” added a source.

Even Rollers’ managing director, Somerset Gobuiwang, recently confessed to Sunday Standard that Chiefs and Botswana football need a person like Molome.

“Despite the differences we normally have when he’s involved with Chiefs, we need someone like him in the running of football,” said Gobuiwang.

With Chiefs billed to hold a general meeting in Mochudi in a fortnight, fireworks are expected to be the order of the day. Things have not been made easier by the fact that Chiefs went for another season without silverware, having finished second in the league and losing in the Coca-Cola Cup semis against eventual champions Extension Gunners.
Those heading to Mochudi say it will be important to have Molome back in charge.

Though he did not want to comment on the issue when contacted on Friday, it is understood that Molome is willing to take Chiefs to the Promised Land again.

According to sources, Molome has even started negotiating with some big name players at Chiefs who are out of contract as he positions himself for next season. He has even signed pre-contract agreements with three big name players who are expected to join Chiefs for the pre-season in July.
On Friday morning, a member of the interim committee, Dennis Keagile, told Sunday Standard that when they came into the office, they had to deal with a number of situations which took time to be addressed.

According to him, his committee still has to go to the general membership to give them a report on their findings after their failed bid to convene a meeting in December.

Keagile was quick to dismiss suggestions that they have never been in good terms with the Molome led committee, claiming that they have enjoyed a healthy relationship. He agreed that some of the key players’ contracts were over and pointed out that very soon, they will sit down with the concerned players and negotiate.

Keagile said that players’ contracts have never been an issue at Chiefs and people should not press panic buttons.

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