Saturday, May 21, 2022

The self believer

There is no football enthusiast in Botswana who is not familiar with the name, Losika Keatlholetswe.

This is because he has been in football circles for long and it looks like he will still be involved with it for more years to come.

Six, as Keatlholetswe is affectionately known in football circles, has held several football portfolios in Botswana football but it is in coaching where his heart is.

He cut his coaching teeth at BDF XI, the team at which he also played and did well in a short period of time. The memorable achievement for him was the Coca-Cola tournament in 1998 when his team defeated Jwaneng Comets by a solitary goal.

Just a few years on his job, Keatlholetswe left for Botswana Football Association (BFA) to be the Technical Director, taking over from Ghanaian, Ben Koufie.

Keatlholetswe faced criticism from some soccer circles because they said the position needed someone experienced enough and he needed more years in coaching. Keatlholetswe did not hesitate and took up the challenges that came up with the job.

“When I took over the reins on a full time basis, the foundation laid by Koufie was already there and I had to just drive it. Of course, many people doubted my abilities because I was taking over from an experienced person of Koufie’s caliber but I had self belief and did most of what I was hired for. Even though there were challenges, I had the support of the BFA,” he said. Keatlholetswe left the BFA at a time when the senior football team, Zebras, were about to make history to qualify for 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and then joined BDF XI as their full time coach, taking over from Zambian Stanley Mwaanga.

Keatlholetswe was also faced with criticism from his detractors who said that the industry was already far ahead of him. Before joining BDF XI last year, he was outside mainstream coaching for more than ten years. But he has done well, bearing in mind that BDF XI does not have quality players like other teams in the Premier League.

He joined them when they had eight matches to go and helped them to finish on position six. This past season he guided them to position five.

“This past season was my first full one and had ample time to prepare the team and managed to take them to position four. For me, the good performance of the team is not a coincidence but is from hard work and belief,” he said.

He added that the fact that he spent more than ten years outside mainstream coaching did not deter him to do the job he loves and added that he never lost touch with it.

“I went to school to do football related courses and never lost touch with modern football trends. My job entails working with coaches most of the time and I also attended a lot of internationally recognised courses and that helped me a lot,” he said. Keatlholetswe, however, says it was not smooth sailing when he arrived at BDF XI and at one stage players did not want him because of the methods he brought to the team and even the philosophies. “This was because the players were used to certain training methods and found it difficult to adapt to mine. Fortunately I have good management that talked to the players. Currently, the players are enjoying it,” he said.

In regard to the local coaches, Keatlholetswe said they are capable of doing wonders but the main problem is that they do not want to learn more and prefer to be used as stopgaps.

“We are facing a situation whereby experienced foreign coaches who come to this country would find it difficult to work with our locals. They should learn as much as they can and then graduate at the right time. We are now seeing a situation whereby a foreign coach claims that the assistant locals are back stabbing them, this is not good at all. Local coaches should also not let themselves be used by teams as quick fixers but rather they should be given ample time to prepare the teams” he said.

In regard to the Zebras recent exploits, Keatlholetswe added that it has long been coming because it was planned a long way back in 1992 when Ben Koufie was the Technical Director of the BFA.
He said almost all developmental teams that came along produced good players that now form the bulk of the Zebras. Even at the tournament, Keatlholetswe says people should rule out Zebras at their own peril. He said Batswana have proven to be capable people and even at the tournament the team is capable of doing wonders.

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