The Ratanang registration saga continues to snowball into a storm no one anticipated. As one would come to expect, at the center of it all is one team not foreign to such controversies, Township Rollers!
By any standards, Rollers is the biggest football brand in the country. It is not only the most followed football club locally but also the most successful. Rollers’ onfield successes include 16 league titles, far ahead of second placed BDF XI who have 7. It also has 6 FA Cups, second only to Gaborone United (GU) who have won 7. Rollers’ two Top 8 wins also puts it among the four teams to have won it most.
And this does not just end there. In terms of following, ‘Popa’ as Rollers is affectionately called, is one of the best, if not the single most followed football team in Botswana. This is even visible on the social media platforms where the team is currently among the Top 30 in Africa. It is Botswana’s only top entrant in Africa’s top 50 according to the African Digital Club Football.
However, like all the most successful entities and individuals, Rollers’ successes have not come without it being in controversies, some self-made and some coincidental! Of recent, some of the scandals have threatened to throw the entire local football into chaos.
From the Bernard Semakwenzi to Ofentse Nato to Ratanang, Rollers has been the common denominator. Whereas with Semakwenzi it was Rollers who queried that he was a defaulter, with the other two, it was Rollers accused of using a defaulter.
These scenarios involving Rollers have led to a pertinent question. Why always Rollers? This is the question on the lips of many. Is Rollers a perpetual trouble maker or just a magnet for trouble? The answer may lie on Rollers’ genetics of being a winner.
At one point or another, the team has had to bend some rules. They know, just like all winners that you cannot always play by the rule book. What sets Rollers apart though is that unlike other teams who also tend to bend rules here and there, with them, there is always a repeat pattern.
This is the same view held by football analyst and sports anchor Monty Gagomokgwa. He is of the view that while teams do bend rules, Rollers seem to do it time and again despite its propensity to get caught.
“It would look like they are not so subtle as other teams may be. We understand they want to win, but they also have to do things well administratively,” he muses.
For one administrator, the problem lies more with what he terms ‘lack of focus within the Rollers administration.’ “I do not think they even know when they are getting into trouble. I think they sometimes find themselves doing things at the last minute and thus get themselves in trouble,” he said.
Commenting on condition of anonymity, the administrator said Rollers’ undoing is that no matter how many times they get caught, they always repeat offenses.
“There have been a lot of instances where Rollers has found itself in the middle of these controversies. The three cases of Semakwenzi, Nato and now Ratanang are not the only ones,” he explained.
While the administrator believes Rollers are unlikely to feel any major repercussions for the latest offense, he concluded that the team has to do things better going forward.
Kagiso ‘Fox’ Phatsimo, a sports journalist and analyst, says the problem lies more with the whole local football administration, more than it is with Rollers. He said the only problem is that with Rollers, their controversies, like the current one and the previous one of Nato, always threaten to change the local football landscape.
“The problem is that our football administration is like a big boys’ club. You always know where to go to get favours even when you know it is wrong,” Phatsimo explained.
“Right now, it is only that we are looking at Rollers. If we were to look deeply into the matter, we are surely going to find that most of the teams are not clean,” he said.
But whatever happens with the current Ratanang saga, Phatsimo said for local football to go forward, the administrative anomalies must be corrected.