Monday, October 26, 2020

Lobtrans Gunners: an anatomy of perpetual problems

Lobatse side, Lobtrans Gunners, still boast to be the only team in recent decades to have won the elite league three years in succession. That was in 1992, 93 and 94. Gunners had great players then, like Kennedy Jerry, Itumeleng Duiker, Napthtally Kebalepile, Solomon Moipolai, Morris Mauco and others. The team also had a great management that comprised of the likes of Rashid Chopdat and Cassim Dada. Gunners also remain one of the few teams to have won both the lucrative Coca Cola Cup and the league in the same year. That was in 1992 and the following year they also had a good run in the Africa Champions competitions. All those glory years are gone and, for the past five years, the relegation axe has been hovering over the team that is one of the most followed in the country. What is surprising many people, however, is that some community teams, like Township Rollers, Gaborone United, Mochudi Centre Chiefs, and Tafic once went through a bad spell and even went to the extent of being relegated. All these teams seem to have sorted out their problems and have a chance to challenge for the league honours. About two years ago, Gunners received sponsorship from transport company Lobtrans, but that seems to have done little to motivate the team. Some pundits even go to the extent of saying that Gunners should get relegated to the lower division so that they can learn how painful it is and may then be motivated enough to go back to their winning ways with immediate effect.

When the current season started, Gunners did not go onto the market to buy quality players as is the norm with other teams. Despite that, they started their campaign well and their supporters thought all was on track. However, the team started to wobble towards the end of the first round.

However, the Chairman of the team, Johnson Ranko, assured Gunners supporters that all will be well soon although he conceded that it is not healthy for the team to always battle for relegation instead of honours.

?I want to assure Lobtrans Gunners supporters that sooner all will be well at the team. We are still rebuilding and it is an exercise that takes some time but the results are not that far. Currently, we are left with ten games before the league winds up and it is a lot of games that, if won, can catapult us to a reputable position,? he said.

Ranko also said, a big team like Gunners needs a lot of resources and what they have been getting is not enough. He also said things have changed in local football because players nowadays do not play for fun or passion, but for money in order to survive. He stressed that lack of resources is something the supporters know well because they once took the issue to them. Ranko added that the current system in place for most of the community teams has a hand in disadvantaging Gunners. He said executive committee members can be easily voted out and thus taking the team back to the drawing boards because the incoming one is going to start all over again.

Trying to revive the old glory days, efforts are under way to privatise Gunners. It, however, seems that it will take some time before the whole process is finalised. The head of the initiative, Alex Masie, told The Sunday Standard that there are certain individuals who want to form a consortium and take charge of the team but there are certain things that need to be sorted out.

?What I can conform is that if the consortium is ready they would not be taking the team sooner; certain things need to be cleared out. For instance, if the consortium came on board, it must be clear whether they will be taking over the team or running it. It must also be made clear whether the consortium will be sponsoring the team or someone outside will be doing so. The consortium would obviously need to bring their proposals, like whether they will be working hand in hand with the current management or if they will be bringing their own. (It must also be made clear if) they will dismantle the team and buy their own players. These are things that need to be made clear and we will be meeting sometime this coming week to plan the way forward,? he said.

On the role of Mosele and Associates, a legal insurance company, Masie said they wanted to be business partners with whoever will be running the team, not as sole sponsors as some people allege. He said at the end of the day, it would be up to the management to decide.

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