Mapalastina, the blues, Popa Popa ea ipopa Basimane baga Mmamasire, these are the expressions for Township Rollers, arguably the most supported team in the country with passionate supporters. When ever the team is on a winning streak, the stadium is always almost full, painted with blue and yellow colours.
But when the team is on a downward spiral, their supporters do not just watch and look up to the management to rectify things. They themselves take the centre stage and fiercely consult with the management.
Rollers are also one of the few teams in the country whose supporters, when things are going well, follow the team where ever it goes.
A few years ago when the team spent about two seasons in the lower divisions, the dusty VDC ground in Tlokweng was always full. Eventually, some of their games had to be switched to the National Stadium.
Rollers are a team whose supporters, when things are going well, go crazy to the extent that their away games look like home ones.
To date, Rollers are the most successful team in the country; they have won the league and the major Coca-Cola tournament more times than any other team in the country. This obviously means that the team must win at least one major tournament each season.
But three seasons have since passed without anything in the team’s trophy cabinet and supporters caucuses were the norm at the end of almost every game the team did not do well.
The management tried all it could and signed big names and firing coaches but that did little to improve its fortunes.
The situation is tense at the team before the start of the season. Some former officials are reportedly planning to dethrone the current management.
The situation went to the extent that some so-called Youth Committee questioned the management whether the team is registered as a society or company.
The current management has since stood firm and wants to revive the image of the team.
Rollers have made some major changes by putting on transfer several big names, something that has even shocked some of the team’s supporters.
Moemedi ‘Jomo’ Moatlhaping, Gabriel Bokhutlo, and Boniface ‘Zolo’ Makolo left for Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Gaborone United, respectively.
Moatlhaping is a striker while Bokhutlo and Makolo are effective wingbacks who did well at the national Under 23.
Rollers defended themselves saying they offloaded the trio because they needed fresh leagues. The team has since signed much rated Tafic midfielder and Somali International, Mohammed Chawila, and another enterprising midfiled ball carrier with fine distribution, Tebogo Mothusi, from Tasc. Rollers have also strengthened their defence by acquiring the services of Miscellaneous’ much sort after player, Jomo Mogadla.
Despite the league being touted to start in only a few weeks, Rollers are still without a coach after firing, Zambian Dickson Ngwenya. The much decorated Ngwenya was seen as not taking Rollers anywhere and the last straw was when the team lost to First Division side Mochudi Buffaloes in the Coca Cola Cup.
On the other hand, Rollers Managing Director, Somereset Gobuiwang, told Sunday Standard that it is their dream this season to do well in the league since they failed to win the Coca-Cola Cup.
He, however, added that a lot still needs to be done if the team is to win the league.
“As you might be aware you do not just wake up and say you are going to win the league. There is a lot on the way and we intend to do all in our power to win it. I am happy with the players we have signed to date, but that alone does not guarantee success. Definitely, Rollers are a big team with fantastic supporters and the team should pay back the supporters by winning something,” he said.
Despite not doing well, however, Rollers remains the only local side to be penetrating the international market when it comes to the sale of players. Several local players, especially those plying their trade in South Africa, went through Rollers.