When the then first division club Ecco City Green reached the semi-finals of the lucrative Coca-Cola Cup in 2003, many people did not take them seriously.
Ecco City were a relatively unknown team and some people even thought that their qualification was a fluke because the eventual champions, Mogoditshane Fighters, just waltzed past them with ease.
After losing to Fighters, the team that would be promoted to the Premier League the following season went back to prepare hard.
Even after gaining promotion, ‘Mamojadiski’ as their supporters dub Ecco City, were given little chance of surviving the scorching heat of the Premier League. The going in the Premier League is never easy especially for rookies. Newly promoted teams are usually relegated after one season stay.
Many teams such as Mokgosi Young Fighters of Ramotswa, Orapa Wanderers, Blue Diamonds and many others can attest to this.
Currently, Ecco City are enjoying their third season in the Premier League.
What is surprises many people is that Ecco City never went on a shopping spree to buy experienced players to beef up their squad. To date, more than half of Ecco City players are the same ones who helped it gain promotions all the way from the second division.
Many factors could be attributed to Ecco City’s unique success, but accolades should go to none other than their former coach, Stanley Mwaanga. Mwaanga joined Ecco City in 2002 while they were still campaigning in the second division. And Mwaanga turned average players into formidable players.
Mwaanga polished players like reigning Mascom Premier League leading goal scorer, Malepa Bolelang. Bolelang used to be a defender when he joined Ecco City from Palapye United. Mwaanga then converted him into a striker.
His efforts paid off because since then Bolelang has been scoring great goals. In the second division he scored more than fifity goals and when Ecco went to the First division he scored 35.
This was excluding tournament goals. Even in the Premier League, he still terrorises defenders because he is one of the leading goal scorers in the current season.
Other Ecco City players that are the envy of many teams include the likes of Nicholas Matlhare, Tshokolo Nkola and Gaboratenelwe ‘Radio’ Kgosietsile.
Mwaanga also introduced a unique style of play at Ecco City. The style, called total football and is common in Holland, is a passing game in which players do not hold onto the ball for too long before releasing it to other players.
Mwaanga’s job was also made easy by the fact that most Ecco City players come from the same area in Tswapong. This then meant they had a lot in common apart from football.
The Public Relations officer of Ecco City, Nelson Legwatagwata, hailed Mwaanga for making Ecco City an invincible team. He said the fact that Mwaanga took Ecco from the second division to the Premier league speaks volumes.
“Mwaanga made Ecco City what it is now and he should be highly credited for that. He built this team from where everybody did not expect. For that matter, he did not have big names in the team but managed to turn things around,” he said.
Legwatagwata also stressed that unity in the team is one of the driving forces behind the team success. He said even when the team is not doing well, players and management are always in good spirits.
He articulated that most of the players have been together for a long time and have a good understanding of each other when playing.
“Most of our players are from Tswapong area. They have known each other from their respective villages before coming here, and they are like a family.
Most of them are always together even during their spare time and that says a lot,” he said.
Legwatagata also told the Sunday Standard that player’s welfare comes first at Ecco City.
He said their players are always well taken care of and that is why it is always difficult for them to desert the team. He gave an example of the independence cup in which they defeated Tafic in the finals.
Of the P18 000 prize money, Legwatagwata said they gave ninety percent of it to the players.
As of this week, Ecco City was on top of the league with thirteen points from six games. Legwatagwata said it is a signal of more good things to come.
He said this season Ecco City would be challenging to both win the lucrative Coca Cola Cup and the league and represent Botswana in continental competitions.