The success of former national team player, Keitumetse ‘Pio’ Paul, in guiding BMC to the finals of this year’s Coca-Cola Cup is proving that local coaches are a force to reckon with. Gone now seems to be the days when almost all elite league teams were coached by foreign coaches, especially from neighbouring countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Paul took BMC to the finals for the second time in the team’s history. The last time BMC went to the finals was in 1996 when they were defeated 2-0 by Township Rollers. Paul, however, showed potential while he was still at Unia Flamengo Santos recently where he was the acting coach. Although it was tough for him, he stood his ground and won some of the games.
Paul might have played for several teams in the Premier League during his hey days but it was at Township Rollers that he made a name for himself. He was an effective right back and used to create many goals and even scored some himself. Despite his height, he surpassed many towering players by just using his mind. When Rollers won the Coca-Cola Cup three times in four years (in 1993, 94 and 96) Paul was part of that great squad. His critics, however, often say he is defensive and never gives players room to attack, but he proved them wrong last weekend when BMC defeated Notwane on penalties. On the day, BMC had many glorious scoring opportunities but they could not convert them because most of the players are still young and inexperienced.
Previously, major tournaments, like the Coca-Cola Cup, were always won by foreign coaches at the expense of local ones. The barrier was only broken by Losikalame Keatlholetswe who won it with BDF XI in 1998. Since then, local coaches like Major David Bright, Stanley Tshosane, and the late Banks Panene, managed to clinch it.
Paul’s success story at BMC might inspire more local coaches to work harder this season. When the season starts today (Sunday) more local coaches will be looking forward to square up. Of the 16 teams that will be taking part, seven teams will be under the tutelage of local coaches. The coaches are Tshosane (BDF XI), Bright (Township Rollers), Sthanda Mogwadi (Police XI), Paul (BMC), Oris Radipotsane (Jwaneng Comets), Kenneth Mogae (Boteti Young Fighters) and Letang ‘Rasta’ Kgengwenyane of Mogoditshane Fighters.
Paul is the only new kid on the block while the rest have been there for some time. Radipotsane and Mogae were mostly engaged in the lower divisions but they have since proved their mettle that they are a force to reckon with. Comets were promoted last season but nearly got relegated and survived during the play offs. Mogae has been slowly making his mark because he took Boteti to two semi-finals of the Coca-Cola Cup. He did it first in 2005 and then this year. Mogae is also making a name for himself with the national Under 23 team where he assists Bright. They have since won the Sasol Eight Nations tournament in South Africa recently and the Four Nations Cup in China early this month.
The team also managed to draw in the two games they played for the Olympics qualifying games. With four games to go, the team still stands a chance and might make history as the first to represent Botswana at the Olympic Games that will be held next year in Beijing, China.
Kgenwenyane, on the other hand, seems to be maturing every season and might surprise many teams this season. When Mogoditshane Fighters were relegated last season, he did not despair and showed his intentions to take the team back into the elite league. He did exactly that and fought tooth and nail and won the championship with about four games to go.
Another local coach who also seems to be on the rise is Mogomotsi ‘Teenage’ Mpote who coaches First division Serowe side, Miscellaneous. He took Miscellaneous from the relegation zone to a reputable position and it would not be surprising if the team gained promotion to the elite league this coming season. Before joining Miscellaneous, Mpote had a long stint with Tasc where he was both a player and a coach. Even when he was a coach, Mpote produced impressive results and Tasc were always fighting for honours. The moment he left, the team nearly dropped to the lower division and only survived in the very last games.