When the Botswana Football Association (BFA) finally announced the return of the FA Cup after a six year hiatus, a palpable sense of excitement and nostalgia engulfed local football followers.
There is something nostalgic, albeit even romantic about the FA Cup. The feeling that comes with the FA Cup is indescribable.
To fully comprehend this, it is perhaps only right to surmise it in the words of David E Hilton in his book Kings of Colorado; “Some stories are rooted in adventure, some in strife. Others are born of the heart, and the horrors and the joys locked therein are often immeasurable …”
Unlike any other football tournament, the FA Cup, to borrow from Hilton, showcases stories ‘rooted in adventure and strife, stories borne of the heart,’ bringing with it immeasurable joys and horrors.
As Orange Botswana Chief Executive Officer Dr Patrick Benon aptly summed it, “Orange FA Cup gives amateur teams an opportunity to battle with the giants from the elite league, as they call it.”
And the results from this perceived mismatch can shock, excite and make one wonder what really happened.
To put this in perspective, who can forget the day in 2002 when Mochudi Centre Chiefs supporters watched in horror as an unheralded Stone Breakers knocked ‘Magosi’ out of the FA Cup, then known as Coca Cola Cup?
Or that heart in the throat moment back in 1994 when a star studded Township Rollers outfit, bristling with talent was taken all the way to the lottery of penalties by Police XI?
Who can dare forget that moment in 1997 when a first division outfit Mokgosi Fighters, ably led by a certain Reuben Tshwenetshwene up front and Barry Hangunyo at the back made history and fought its way to the finals?
And then there was Jwaneng Comets shining all the way to the finals in 1998, followed by FC Satmos who danced their way to the finals in 1999.
Then there were others like Red Lions, Young Strikers, Killer Giants, Mochudi Buffaloes and others, who sent giants tumbling out of the FA Cup much to the horror and excitement of local football lovers, depending on which side of the fence one found him or herself in.
These were some of the ‘David versus Goliath’ moments, the unpredictability that made the FA Cup a fan favourite.
Along with those ‘What Just Happened’ moments, the FA Cup has also unearthed some of the talent that captivated the football loving Batswana.
It is perhaps not surprising that when announcing the return of the FA Cup, now under the stewardship of Orange Botswana, BFA president Maclean Letshwiti expressed optimism that the cup will do the same again.
“A platform like the FA CUP offers a great opportunity for talent at all our leagues and structure to be scouted and seen by national teams’ coaches across board,” Letshwiti said.
And Letshiwiti’s optimism is not misplaced, not even a bit. Some of the stars churned out by the FA Cup include the likes of Tshwenetshwene, Phineas ‘Jiki’ Maimela, Jomo Bolofete, Mompati Thuma, Malepa Bolelang, Boiki Mothibi and Patrick Lenyeletse.
Of these, Mothibi was snatched from Gantsi Terrors, Maimela from Gaston United, Lenyeletse from Stone Breakers and Bolofete from Motlakase, just to state but a few.
With all these stars in mind, it may after all not be a farfetched dream for Letshwiti to get that star he yearns ‘from Shakawe.’