Saturday, May 30, 2020

Mighty Magosi back on their feet with spears held high

The relegation of Kgatleng based outfit, Mochudi Centre Chiefs from Botswana Premier League was a fate no one, and not even the team’s rivals could have wished for.

But it was perhaps a blessing in disguise, an evil which had to happen for the once proud giant of Botswana football to wake up from its slumber.

For years, supporters had waited patiently to see their beloved ‘Magosi’ back in their ancestral soil. But the team’s successes meant it was kept away, in the process losing some of its support base.

Even when the team started struggling and losing its support, ultimately leading to its demise, the then leadership seemed not keen to take the team back to its roots.

In the years that Magosi made Gaborone its support base, other teams, more especially the likes of Township Rollers, made incursions in Chief’s home base, establishing a support base.

Now languishing in the Debswana First Division and playing in the dusty grounds of Mochudi, a far cry from the ‘glorified’ turfs and floodlights of the premier league, Magosi seems a new rejuvenated force.

The supporters who once shunned the team’s games have come back to rally behind their team, making the dreaded ‘dusty grounds,’ or ‘ko leroleng’ a spectacle of song and dance.

Unlike when the team supporters looked the other way as the team struggled financially prior to relegation, supporters from different branches are now putting their monies where their hearts are, depositing monies into the team’s account to help in player’s welfare and make ends meet.

And Magosi, to everyone’s surprise, seems to have also taken to their new surroundings like a fish to water. Two games into the season, Chiefs is yet to lose a game and the team looks destined for a quick return to the elite league.

The change in attitude by the team’s support base is not surprising. Where they had once lost hope and there was uncertainty over who will take over to steer the Magosi ship out of the turbulence, the team has found new leadership they can now trust.

When all hope was lost, the team and its supporters appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Stock Exchange, Thapelo Tsheole as their team president. Tsheole, who commands an illustrious background in corporate governance, is expected to contribute in propelling the Kgatleng club to new heights in both governance and strategy.

Tsheole who was born and raised in Mochudi said he has volunteered to help Chiefs by providing strategic leadership and vision to the football fraternity as well as giving back to the community that has contributed immensely to his childhood.

He said “I have played for the Centre Chiefs development team in the Chappies league a long time ago. I later went on to play for another team in the National First Division in Gaborone.”

“I do not intend to be active in Botswana Football Association (BFA) structures or national football but only active for Chiefs, I also will be beneficial in providing governance and integrity of football,” Tsheole opined. Tsheole said he will use his expertise in the corporate world in an effort to help the team move forward. The Mochudi native says he has been supporting Magosi from his early days.

Tsheole narrated his vision for Chiefs; he said “My vision for Chiefs is to bring it to premier league by next year, as well as creating a sustainable model for a community owned football that befit the status of Mochudi.”

With Chiefs back home it means it will start using its home grounds. When asked on the playing grounds that Chiefs have and their development plan, Tsheole had this to say “We will develop River plate stadium and later look for a more spacious place to build a proper facility for the team. All this is attainable in short to medium term.”

“The team is back to its home forever, as long as am leading them it will be a permanent change, even if it goes back to the premier league,” Tsheole promised Mochudi supporters. He also added that “We want to bring back the pride of Bakgatla-that is their team, hence giving us time to build ourselves as a club.”

He further revealed that he have started implementing various plans that will be of benefit to Bakgatla. He said “We have started rotating the team’s home games amongst Kgatleng villages and that is plan that we intend to exercise at all times, and my hope is that the first division committee will see the strategy and agree with us. Football must be taken to the people as it is people’s game, plus the team has been gone and taken away from the people for a long time now.”

On the other hand Chiefs relegation has opened so many opportunities for local businesses through stalls, insinuating that this relegation has brought positive effects. Tsheole highlighted that hosting games and relocating to Kgatleng comes with huge economic and social benefits. He said “Economically we have physically relocated economic power to Mochudi in terms of spending power which include in shops, rental and entertainment before and after the game. Socially the residents can now relate and even visit their football club even during training.”

“Furthermore, young aspiring footballers can now admikre and be encouraged by seeing their football stars. The team will get huge financial boast especially now that majority of supporters do not have to travel to Gaborone for home games,” Tsheole opined.

In terms of player’s welfare, and a newly elected committee with an indebted club which is visually bankrupt, one can only hope for the best for their success in uplifting the club. Tsheole concluded by saying “The past committee left huge problems for the club some of which were deliberately done to prejudice the incoming committee; they were trying to set us for failure. However, we shall succeed.”

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Sunday Standard May 24 – 30

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of May 24 - 30, 2020.