The day Magosi were dethroned
Once the envy of other Premier League clubs, Mochudi Centre Chiefs was indeed a dominant force. Having enjoyed a decade a total control and football monopoly, the Kgatleng giants are now moving into wilderness, observes Staff Writer MOSIMANEGAPE TSHOSWANE.
It could have never come to this moment. That moment when Mochudi Centre Chiefs’ fight for survival is further complicated by arch rivals Township Rollers. A club they battled long and hard to conquer football power. But on Wednesday afternoon, Chiefs fell into relegation zone for the second time this season. This has instantly fuelled fears that the team might not survive this time around. Fate is no longer within their hands. They are no longer in control of their own destiny.
The sordid football story of the Kgatleng giants is that—history, no matter how colourful and glorious, does win you important matches. This is a club that has gone through all phases of football metamorphosis. They were once relegated in 1994, won the first division championship in 1995 to play Super League (now Botswana Premier League) again in 1996.
In 2007-08, the club won the league undefeated, a new standing record set by the Botswana club. In the following year, they refused to let it go when Mike Sithole‘s Gaborone United clinched the title on the very last game. Chiefs finished the race second. Indeed they had established themselves as the overriding force of Botswana football behind Township Rollers.
In 2011-12 season, still nobody came close to them. They won another premier title. Under the influence of hard-nosed negotiator Ernest Molome, the team bossed everything that came ahead. They had adopted a mercenary belief that success literally has a price. Any other good player had to play for this side. That is why it was easy for them to defend the cup in the subsequent season. The unprecedented trend of dominance stretched on the 2014-15 and 15-16 season. The Kgatleng giants won another back to back title championship.
But ever since the departure of club financer, Sayeed Jamali, the club literally crumbled down. Club chairman Raymond Tsheko rightly put it down, “Every time when this club relegates, it is because there is clear lack of financial support, it happened in 1994.” The club has collected 22 points from 28 league games and by Wednesday that harm by Township Rollers ensured that the team seat uncomfortably in relegation quagmire.
But who would have imagined that during the year of its near 50th anniversary, Chiefs would barely be ruling, but rather sit on the brink of being forgotten and relegated to the scrap heap of football history? Who would have imagined that someday, while its peers such as Township Rollers and Orapa United would boast appearances in CAF Champions League football stages and continue to be among the top clubs in local football? The once Kgatleng outfit that used to play neat football would resemble an old, faded beauty queen who has become the useful tool of young men who want to test their virility?
In a different time, this was unthinkable, an unimaginable impossibility, for this was no ordinary club. This is a club that once assembled top players like Pontsho Moloi, Dirang Moloi, Jerome Ramatlhakwane, Jomo Moatlhaping and Joel Mogorosi under one unit. Centre chiefs was not just a football club, but also a way life. There are many memorable moments and a therapeutic package of flair and skill that brought so much joy, pride and an escape from the harsh realities of life just to watch this team. To many, including even from the opposition rank, Chiefs brought spark to Botswana football. This is a club that unified the often troublesome villages of Kgatleng- Mochudi, Rasesa, Bokaa and Morwa.
Their followers will always sing powerful and melodies songs at the stands. Has the time arrived for the club faithful supporters to rise and shine, and as chips are down, belt out a song urging on Kgosi Lenchwe to rescue Magosi. But on Wednesday 1st of May, the day they fell into relegation, when Rollers’ Tumisang Orebonye ran rampant, the supporters could be heard enjoying one last moment, singing as they usually do. But was it for the last time? The answer lies within two remaining games: Sankoyo Bush Bucks and Gaborone United.
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AFRICA’S RECOVERY: Sports as game changer
The year 2022 witnessed unprecedented phenomena. Several Africans- Gotytom Gebreslase, Sharon Lokedi, Victor Kiplangat, Tamarit Tola and many others- swept the World’s marathons records.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting control measures implemented in several countries, led to many high-level sports competitions being cancelled or shelved, the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games was moved to 2026.
Founder and Executive Chairman, African Sports and Creative Institute, Will Mabiakop, says the inability to hold traditional and amateur sports events have had a serious effect on public health overall, including mental health, sparking a revolution whereby athletes began to talk more openly about stress, mental overload and performance anxiety.
“Africa is home to the fastest growing economies before the crisis, no longer on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COVID-19 deepened interdependence between SDGs, making them harder to achieve, especially SDG 10 (reducing inequality) and SDG 5 (gender equality_ as the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on poorer countries, and heavier burdens (such as care work) fell to women.”
Mabiakop stresses that as policymakers contemplate actions to speed up recovery and build resilience, they must argue that sports and creative businesses should play a central feature in this effort.
“The sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africa’s sports and creative industries can offer policymakers innovative solutions. Especially, as regards job creation, and providing employment to the 15 million people entering the job market annually.”
HOW CAN THE INDUSTRY DO THIS?
By leveraging the two-for-one concept: past studies shown that a 1% growth in the economy delivers a 2% job increment in this sector (these ratios are calculated using data from 48 African countries and adjusted to the reality of the sports economy in Africa by the authors). There are between 30 and 50 job types, in sports and creative industries, respectively. These jobs do not fade away with the first major shock.
Mabiakop indicated that policymakers can use these industries to tackle multiple crises- jobs, poverty, and climate risks. Sports diplomacy- defined as communication, representation and negotiation in or through the prism of sports- has proven effective in building inclusive and cohesive societies. Moreover, sports and the creative industry can support better mental health and well-being, both important for productivity.
“Policymakers can also be true to the game by leveraging culture and tradition to celebrate identity and reap commercial value in sports, textiles and jewelry. Creative sectors allow deeper connection with culture, are not easily copied and provide great economic potential.”
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. “Fortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.”
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. “First avoid build it and they will come policies with infrastructures denuded from the rest of the ecosystem. Like the many sports stadiums left largely unused.”
“Policymakers must remain mindful of how these sectors move the needle in human capital development. Also, align the requisite public policies needed for progress from grassroots participation to professional sports, and even to international sporting events. They should also support investment instruments to render these sectors performant.”