They played wholeheartedly for their respective teams and did even wonders when selected for the senior national team.
But once they called it quits, their popularity went away with them.
One would even doubt that they were once national team material that was the toast of the nation.
Those are yesteryear players, most of whom are finding it extremely difficult to contribute to the sport that they cherished and enjoyed.
Be it on the administrative side of sport or the technical side, yesteryear players are not getting into the sport in desired numbers.
The situation used to be a problem at the national teams but it has improved for the past few years.
Some positions in the national teams, like those of managers, are held by former players, something that is highly commendable.
Former Gaborone United (GU) and Zebras defender, Gofhamodimo ‘City’ Senne, told Sunday Standard that former players are not engaged the way they are supposed to be.
But he stressed that the fingers should not only be pointed at the teams but also at the former players themselves.
“As players, we should also avail ourselves and tell teams that we are around or else nobody will notice us despite the invaluable contribution we made to local soccer. Once you avail yourself, you learn something that you will carry for years. Currently, I am the spokesperson for GU and I am learning a lot regarding the logistics of communication. But once most of us quit football we tell ourselves that it is the end of the world for football but it is not and it should be the beginning of bigger things. We have to look at how other countries are doing,” he said.
Senne, who has now been roped to be GU’s spokesperson, emphasized that there are ways that make most yesteryear soccer players feel dejected. He said most players retire from soccer playing with nothing much to show for it and, as such, most of them start life afresh.
“Once most players leave active playing with nothing much to show for it, they concentrate on something that brings food on the table and that takes their time and energy from soccer. That is the main problem that they are facing but things are slowly changing and time will come where by most former players will make a living out of football,” he said. ‘
Lepholetha’, as Senne was also known in his prime, called on former players not to lose the passion for football because, in the long run, they will also benefit.
On his part, football official Fobby Radipotsane told Sunday Standard that a variety of factors make yesteryear players distant from football. He said first and foremost, most teams do not have a culture whereby players can be identified with them after their playing days.
Radipotsane added that there is also no monitoring of players in Botswana whereby retired players can be called to assist football in any way they can. “We have had players in Botswana who were envied by other countries during their prime playing days. For instance, players like Oris Radipotsane and Tshephiso Molwantwa did a lot for Rollers and one way or the other they should be associated with that team. In other countries we see that happening and some of such players end up holding higher positions for their teams. Former players who were popular should also be used by teams to market themselves,” he said.
Radipotsane also added that shaggy developments structures are contributing in chasing away yesteryear players. He said if development structures were strong at both team and national level most former players would be deployed there to plant what they learned over the years. “Imagine if all Premier League teams and regions had strong youth teams? The only people who can help are our yesteryear players. There is an association for them and I believe once they speak with one voice such challenges can be over-come,” he said.
Radipotsane called on the Botswana Football Association to make it compulsory for players that are nearing retirement to take football courses ranging from administration, refereeing, coaching and others.
He said once players attend as many courses as they can, they would not just fold their arms but would want to fully utilise their qualifications somewhere.