Almost all the three major diamond areas, namely Jwaneng, Orapa and Letlhakane regions, are blessed with an abundance of football teams. Most of such teams are in their respective First divisions and rarely appear in the elite league. Those that make it to the premier league normally last a season or before being bundled back to the First Division. Just last season Jwaneng Comets made their third appearance in the Premier league, but as things stand they might find themselves campaigning in the first division next season. They are perched at the bottom of the league and still continue to drop points as what happened in midweek when they were walloped 2-0 by BMC.
Some teams, like Boteti Young Fighters, Blue diamonds, Orapa Wanderers, once made a season’s appearance in the elite league. Both Boteti and Blue Diamonds campaigned in the premier league in the mid nineties while Wanderers did so in 2005. When Comets gained promotion last season, many people thought they had learnt something from the previous experience and would stay in the elite league.
While Comets faces relegation, Boteti, which is from Letlhakane, faces promotion. The question that is on the lips of many is why diamond mining teams never find it easy in the elite league.
The Chairman of Jwaneng Comets, Njabulo Gilika, told Sunday Standard Sports that mining teams never survive because they do not have ample resources like institutional and community teams. He said his team might be in the mining town, but mines are not sponsoring them as some people might think.
“It is definitely difficult for teams like ours to acquire quality players. This is so because we do not have enough resources as some people might think. Even when we try to entice the players with the little resources we have, most of them are reluctant to stay in places like Jwaneng and prefer Gaborone. Many people perceive that mines are pumping money into the teams, but that is not the case, we are only helped by individuals and it is far from enough,” he said.
Gilika also said it is not only diamond mining teams that struggle to survive in the elite league. He said most teams that normally get promotion to the elite league only stay for a season only to be relegated the following season. He gave an example of Tlokweng based side, Naughty Boys, which he said stayed for a season in 2005. He also said even Selibe Phikwe teams, such as Mosquito, also stay for a season. Gilika pointed out that another Selibe Phikwe side, Satmos, is also not finding it easy to survive. He said Satmos just survived the relegation axe a season after their promotion.
Gilika, however, vowed that his team would fight tooth and nail to avoid the chop. He said most of the games the team loses do not necessarily mean they are not competitive. He said in most cases lady luck is not on their side.
A player for one of the diamond mining teams puts the blame on the management of the teams. The player, who spoke under conditions of anonymity, told Sunday Standard Sports that diamond mining teams are treated as social clubs and are not taken seriously.
“Times have now changed and most teams are serious with football. Most teams see football as a long term investment because it is only a matter of time before football is professional in this country. The management of mining teams must wake up and buy quality players and sacrifice a lot or else diamond mining teams will struggle forever,” he said.
The player also said the teams must emulate the existing relationship between Selibe-Phikwe based side, Nico and the BCL mine. He said both parties have mutual understanding and this has resulted in Nico being one of the forces to reckon with during the past few years. The player added that the officials must court the mines for lucrative sponsorships to entice good players.