Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Social soccer builds ties across borders

Ordinary citizens of Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa and Swaziland are giving impetus to building relationships across borders through Sunday football games which are getting increasingly popular.

Groups of like-minded citizens from Botswana and South Africa have found ways of remaining blissful in the wake of the release of the latest Happy Planet Index, which ranks Botswana among the least happy countries while pitting South Africa 10th among the planet’s unhappiest nations.

The social soccer lovers travel from country to country to play Sunday football, which is usually followed by feasting and sharing of culture as a way of building relations across borders.

Over the weekend, a group of happy-looking souls from Lehurutshe near Zeerust, who go by the name “Basha Masters” social club, were in Ramotswa for an “encounter” with their counterparts “Borara Masters” as one of┬átheir string of visits to the country to┬áplay with some of their pot-bellied counterparts after which they indulge in food and drink. To the social clubs, it matters very little who wins the football match.

“We exist to build on relationships across borders and to understand each other’s culture. We are not only looking at playing football but have commitments. We seek to help one another in many ways. We assist one another where necessary during wedding ceremonies and funerals. We also nurture youngsters who are interested in soccer,” said Robert Mojafi, speaking on behalf of the South African visitors.

The South Africans have visited and played at a number of places, including Jwaneng, Kanye, Gaborone and Maun. They are scheduled to visit Serowe next month.

┬á“It is easier to come and play in Botswana than Rustenburg because it is nearer to Lehurutshe,” said Mojafi.

Spokesman of the Ramotswa-based “Borara Masters”, Phil Thobega, said his club was formed about four months ago by middle-aged men with the ultimate goal of giving a hand where it might be needed. He said the club intends work hand in hand with the tribal authority and already has the blessings of the deputy chief, Kgosi Tsimane Mokgosi, who is also a club member.

Thobega himself regards South Africa as his second home.

“I played my professional football in South Africa. I have played in Rustenburg, Pretoria, Swaziland and Lesotho. The intention is to identify and see how we can help members within our society who are in greater need than us,” said Thobega.


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