Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Of Nikola and Rollers ÔÇô the acrimony

Of the popular Greek mythologies, none can perhaps describe the relationship between Township Rollers and its immediate past Coach Nikola Kavazovic better than that of Icarus.

The Greek mythology has it that Icarus and his master craftsman father Daedalus attempted to escape from their imprisonment in Crete using wings of feathers and wax made by Daedalus himself.

Before taking to flight, Daedalus warned his son of complacency and hubris (extreme or foolish pride, overconfidence or arrogance), asking him not to fly too low nor two high, so that the sea’s dampness would not clog his wings or the sun’s heat melt them. 

Overcome by excitement and pride of flying, Icarus ignored his father’s advice and flew high and close to the sun, melting his wings in the process. As fate would have it, Icarus fell into the sea and drowned.

Like the mythical Icarus, at the helm of Rollers, Kavazovic soared. ‘Popa,’ as Rollers is affectionately known, won back to back league titles, Mascom Top 8 tournament as well as breaking new grounds in the CAF Champions league.

Overcome by the giddiness of this unprecedented success, both locally and continentally, Kavazovic, just like Icarus, is said to have then grown too big headed and uncontrollable, listening to no one.

While Rollers had in their statement announcing the departure of Kavazovic tried to conceal the truth, only hinting that “the management has taken this decision to respect the dignity of players, technical team, Management, Executive Committee and including President of TRFC,” details emerging has it of a coach who grew bigger than the club.

According to the rumours, following his successes, Kavazovic, who was allegedly earning P40 000 after tax wanted his salary to be increased to at least P55 000 after tax.

Information reaching this publication suggests that following the demands, protracted salary negotiations ensued as the Rollers management was not ready to accede to the coach’s salary demands.

It is said that the club president Jagdish Shah, who is also the team’s chief financier, was of the view that Kavazovic’s demands were ridiculous and not affordable. The refusal was allegedly the beginning of a difficult relationship between the club and the coach as he became uncontrollable.

Reached to give clarity on the matter, Rollers Public Relations Officer (PRO) Bafana Pheto said the coach was difficult to control but did not divulge anything further.

“He had at one point said he needs time with his family and asked to be released. He then later wrote a letter saying he has done his part and requested to be released,” Pheto explained.

He said it was easy to part ways with him because the coach was no longer controllable. It is alleged that at the time of his departure, Kavazovic had divided the team and was favouring some players over others and he also divided the technical team.

“His relationship with the president, management, players and the technical team was sour and when he came to us seeking to be released the management obliged,” Pheto said.

The Rollers PRO explained that the team was paying the coach well and meeting all the contractual obligations, but the coach showed no one any respect and ‘did what he wanted to do and was no longer obeying the management instructions.’

According to Pheto, the coach was earning close to P50 000 and had other pecks including car allowance, housing allowance and cellphone allowance.

“Nikola got close to P450 000 in winning bonuses for the Mascom Top 8, the league and for qualifying to the CAF championship group stages” he said.

Asked about rumours that Rollers president Jagdish Shah recently met with former Gaborone United (GU) Coach Rodolfo Zapata to finalise the takeover of the team coaching duty, Pheto said he is not aware of such.

Pheto explained that the team’s vacant position had attracted interest from across the world but said the management is in no hurry to appoint a new coach.

“The management is going to take time to assess all the coaches who have applied and shortlist those who will meet the requirements and the standard of the team,” Pheto.

Efforts to talk to Kavazovic proved unsuccessful as his mobile phone rang unanswered.  The coach is rumoured to be wanted by the South Africa ABSA premiership side, Baroka FC.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.