Saturday, September 26, 2020

Older players show no signs of slowing down

Playing football in the elite division for more than ten years is not an easy task. Most players play their best after six years. For those who have been in the game for more than ten years, one would expect an average or below par performance.

Normally, most of them do not perform well because it is either their bodies can no longer cope with the fast game or age is catching up on them.
Nevertheless, there are those players that are defying the time factor.

Some players have been playing for more than ten years but they are still going strong and seem to be maturing with age. Even some of the current crop of players is finding it hard to contain them.

The notable ones are Notwane’s Zambian midfielder Fubian Zulu, Police XI’s Therisanyo ‘Tshu Tshu Haake, Nico’s Zambian midfielder Maybin Chama and Prisons XI’s trio of Keitumetse Dikepu, Aaron Lesupi and Oneeleng ‘Six’ Radikara.

Zulu has been playing for Notwane for 13 years now. At the age of 34 he is still playing a pivotal role for ‘Toronto Blizzards’ as its supporters dub the team.

Zulu is also proving that experience counts. Sometimes when their strikers are struggling, he sneaks forward to rescue his team. His short height seems not to be a snag because he scores most of his goals from aerial positions.

Zulu attributes disciplined life for his many years of illustrious soccer playing.

“I am someone who takes care of myself and refrain from many activities that could endanger my life. I’m also helped by the fact that I do not take alcohol and I am determined.

These are some of the elements that have helped me to be where I am right now. I also encourage other players to do the same,” he said.

Zulu initially wanted to quit competitive soccer last season, but had to re-think. He is not sure when exactly he will quit, but said as long as his legs could carry him through, he would continue playing.

Chama on the other hand has been playing for close to 13 years and is proving to be a festering sore for most of the local defenders. After joining Nico this season, he produced the spark he was renowned for in the early 90s.

Chama can also operate from any angle and can also shoot from both legs. His combination with striker Tamocha Bedi proves to be paying dividends. Chama once had spells with Notwane, Moroka Swallows (South Africa) and even with several Zambian clubs before coming back to Botswana for Nico.

Haake is in his fourteenth year at Police XI and, despite being 35, is a vital cog especially in the midfield. When he is not playing, Police XI is more vulnerable to attacks.

Police XI’s first Premier League game against Gaborone United last month proved to many people that Haake is a pivotal player. He started from the bench and GU scored two quick goals before half time. After that he was introduced and helped to orchestrate the moves that helped Police XI to level the score line before full time.

Last season Haake also helped the team to win their first ever league championship medal.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.