Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Local players taking long to break into professional leagues

For so many years, it has proved to be difficult for local players to break into the professional ranks, especially the South African Premier League.

On the other hand, Southern African countries found it easy to send their players there.
Countries like Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho and Namibia were mainly the ones well represented in the professional ranks.

With the exception of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Botswana used to beat other countries in regional competitions.

However, for the past five years, local players have been slowly moving into the South African Premier League despite the fact that local football has shown signs of growth.

For the first time, Botswana has already qualified for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

Currently, there are only six local professional players in the South African Premier League while there is only one in the First Division.

They are Boitumelo Mafoko (Cape Town Santos), Mogogi Gabonamong, Diphetogo Selolwane (Supersport United), Phenyo Mongala (Orlando Pirates). Dirang Moloi, Jerome Ramatlhakwane (Vasco Da Gama).
Goalkeeper Modiri Marumo is the only one in the First Division where he plays for Port Elizabeth side, Bay United.

Already, the future of the two who are playing for Vasco Da Gama is unknown because the team has just been relegated to the First Division.

It remains to be seen whether this coming transfer window will see several players making their way to the money-spinning league.

Compared to other countries, it has taken Botswana some time for its players to break into the professional ranks.

Football official, Fobby Radipotsane, told Sunday Standard that the problem has been the coaching department in Botswana. He said Botswana Premier League has been over reliant on foreign coaches from neighbouring countries.

“Local coaches are not really given a chance to prove themselves and they are the ones who know the culture of players. As such, many foreign coaches have been the ones calling the shots. As such, foreign coaches would always give preference to their own players. Also, foreign coaches do not last long at one team; they move from one team to another and that can also have an impact on local players,” he said.

Radipotsane added that things are improving a bit and that’s why several local players are playing in the professional ranks.

On his part, former Botswana Football Association (BFA) Vice President for Administration, Segolame Ramothwa, added that a variety of factors has a hand in limiting local players from breaking into the professional ranks.

He added that, for a long time, many countries considered Botswana as a non-footballing nation and, as such, the players were not taken seriously. “There has been this perception that Botswana is not a footballing nation. As such it was difficult for local players to move to professional ranks not only in South Africa but other professional leagues as well. This thing really killed us and the perception has started changing because Botswana has qualified for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations,” he said.

Ramothwa also added that the BFA at times had political differences with the South African Football Association, saying that it is something that had a huge impact.

“BFA once had a problem with SAFA and it took time to rebuild the cordial relationship that currently exists. There was no way Botswana could survive without South Africa and we had to do a lot. Currently, our national teams sometimes participate at tournaments in South Africa something that is beneficial to us,” he said.

Ramothwa also said the organization of football in Botswana leaves a lot to be desired and that impedes football growth in general. He stressed that if teams could be well organized, more local players would make it outside the country.

“Our players are equally good just like those from other countries and if we were more organized we could have gone very far,” he said.

Another element that Ramothwa says plays a huge role is the attitude of players, which he says leaves a lot to be desired.

He said many players are more comfortable at home than going outside the country.

“Most players in Botswana do not go to bed hungry and, as such, nothing really challenges them to seek greener pastures outside. Once they encounter challenges that they are not used to, they would rather return home and there have been such cases,” he said.

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