Saturday, May 21, 2022

Lepotokisi calls for support in Thamaga

When it all started in December 2006, the annual Thamaga Football Festive Challenge looked like nothing but a joke. The level of competition was nothing to write home about and fans were left wondering whether there was need to spend their last monies to support it. But after eight years of hardwork, the tournament has since grown into the most anticipated during the festive season. And credit has to go to the organiser, Tiroyaone Lepotokisi, who despite the challenges he has faced, has ensured that football lovers in the Kweneng region converge to the village for the four day spectacle.

“It was not easy when I started the tournament together with my homeboy and colleague Tumiso Rakgare. It was made worse when even the clubs were not sure about taking part in the tournament. But we believed that there was a need to stage it and give back to the community of Thamaga. We were born and bred in the village and we felt that it was upon us to ensure that we do something for the less fortunate. The proceeds from the tournament are donated to the less fortunate through the help of social workers. We encountered a lot of troubles along the way but we were determined to make a difference,” said Lepotokisi who is also a sports presenter with Radio Botswana. In 2008 the tournament did not take place due to financial constraints but the duo picked up the pieces and like they say, the rest is history.

In the past year, Rakgare decided to step aside from the organisation of the tournament as he had to focus on his political interests. It meant that Lepotokisi had to go solo in ensuring that he keeps the fire burning. Though it has been two difficult years, he remains confident that the tournament will continue to live to its billing. “It has been a rough ride for me as the sole organiser. Convincing companies to sponsor the tournament has been a major challenge but I’ve not looked down. This is a tournament which is intended at making a difference in the village. I’m grateful to all those who have contributed in ensuring that we stage it once again especially the Local Organising Committee,” continued Lepotokisi. This year the tournament kicks on Christmas day until December 28 with eight teams expected to lock horns in what promises to be an exciting spectacle. First Division South sides, Uniao Flamengo Santos, Lesirane and Black Forest are expected to add spice to the showpiece. Residents of Thamaga will be pinning their hopes on local sides Sanyane Celtics, Shooting Stars, Blue Aces and Swallows to make sure that the trophy retains to the village.

Defending champions Tourism FC from Mmankgodi will return to the showpiece to defend their title. “All these teams have quality and we’re confident that they will give the football community what they are expecting. All these clubs are registered under the Botswana Football Association hence we’re confident that it will be an interesting show. We appreciate that these clubs saw it fit to contribute towards charity,” said Lepotokosi. Since its inception, the tournament had many beneficiaries including Thamaga Hospital, Mmamantele Diphoko, Mophuthuludi Shakgale and Dihakonyana Nkgwang.

Lepotokisi said this year’s event will be a bit different as it is aimed passing a message to the community of Thamaga. “We’ve got a theme which is “Enough is Enough” following recent violent events which took place in the village. We lost lives when some misbehaving youth attacked different households in the village which was unfortunate. We’ve come together with the village chief, police and the community in ensuring that we bring to an end such kind of behaviour. Thamaga is known to be a peaceful place and we don’t want a situation whereby people would be scared to walk freely at night due to such behaviour” said Lepotokisi. There will be a march on December 28 to ensure that the message is passed to all those concerned. “I’m therefore appealing to the community of Thamaga and surrounding areas to support this noble project. It will be nice to see football lovers filling Thamaga Stadium in numbers and taking part in the march,” he said.

Tickets will be sold at the stadium for P30 for elders and P10 for kids on match days.

Meanwhile, before the grand final which is billed for 4.30pm on December 28, Friends of Lepotokisi will battle it out with Thamaga Select FC at 2pm. Friends of Lepotokisi is made up of current and past Premier League players like; Thandwa Moreki, Seabo Gabanakgosi, Lesego Moeng, Molatedi Mabina, Jones Kwape, Thabo Motang, Aaron Radira, Zacharia Muzadzi, Fabian Zulu, Mmoni Segopolo, Oteng Dipheko and Desmond Molefe. On the evening of December 28, there will be a prize giving ceremony at Thamaga Community Hall where Santos’ director Sexton Kowa will be the guest speaker. Artists like Gong-Master, Jojo and Leco will perform at the event with Radio Botswana presenter Smallboy Mothibi being the master of ceremony. Tickets for the ceremony sell at P100 and P200 for VIP section.

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