The Chairperson for Selebi Phikwe Regional Football Association, Barulaganye Moloi says Nico United Football Club still has a bright future despite having relegated to First Division during the 2016/17 season. The team failed to gain promotion back into the BTC premiership as they finished 6th last season but Moloi is convinced that United is not yet into terminal decline.
Addressing Nico United’s Annual General Meeting last weekend, the Regional Football Administrator called on the team’s supporters to rally behind management to help the team ascend back to the top where it belongs. He said that football administration is not a simple task, but a difficult one that needs tenacity and passion for the sport if one is to excel in it. “It is humbling to see that we still have dedicated people who are interested in helping run the club at this point where the team is faced with many challenges. Let us create an environment that will enable people to be interested in helping us,” he said.
He urged management to forge ahead and vigorously seek financial support from individuals to businesses. Until 2016, Majombolo, as the team is affectionately known, had stable financial backing from BCL Mine but when operations were stopped, the team faced its worst financial crisis which led to 13 players leaving the club for greener pastures. The crisis saw Nico United suffering their first relegation in 12 years, tumbling out of the BTC Premiership after finishing second from the bottom.
Moloi says that with enough support from both the fans and financiers, United can emerge stronger than before. He says Nico United’s survival is critical for Selebi Phikwe and the region as it the team which could give the younger players an opportunity for growth and to experience football at a premiership stage.
He further urged the club to form partnerships with local teams in the lower division where the lower division teams develop players to feed into Nico squad. He emphasised that clubs should be interested in grooming players for upper levels of football and therefore a partnership arrangement of this nature can be beneficial to both contracting partners. Moloi stressed the importance of development, noting that “when you teach kids your culture as a team at an early stage, they grow up loving the team wholeheartedly.”
Nico United Chairman, Ace Masoja also reiterated that a successful Nico United is important in the development of players in Selebi Phikwe. He pointed out that the management committee that he leads is committed to help the club achieve promotion back to the championship. He said if this fails, what will be important is to preserve First Division status and avoid at all cost to relegate further to third tier football.
He reported that the technical bench will still be manned by Peter Muchina as Head Coach assisted by Sunday Kelebale as the team believes that the duo will be able to guide Majombolo to the league’s safety or even gain promotion. “There are those who watch and celebrate when we are perceived to have made mistakes and there are those who travel with us, endure the hardship and celebrate the achievements, and not our shortcomings,” said Masoja, appealing for unity and trust amongst the members of Nico United.
“With everyone’s help, we can unify this team to win and build Selebi Phikwe where we will rise together, a club where we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. We believe that if we work together, work hard enough and believe in ourselves, the whole Nico United family will be inspired to rise and be happy again,” he said.
Another optimist who believes Nico can bounce back forcefully provided it secures sustainable financial support, is the club’s former chairperson, Mothusi Taolo who pledged his full support to the current management team. Taolo highlighted the importance of supporting management as opposed to unwarranted criticism which does not build the club. He noted that a number of management teams from various clubs endured unbearable and unconstructive criticism being accused of failing the team but the same teams continued to experience difficulties even with the change of guard.
The Botswana national boxing team recently returned from the zone 4 championship held in Mozambique. The team was led by head coach Thebe Setlalekgosi, two assistant coaches, Gibson Rauwe and Pearl Mooketsi. Two referees and judges, Gaseitsewe Ponatshego and Linda Mooketsi.
In the women’s category, Lethabo Modukanele was representing Botswana in the 48 kg division, while Phekie Bele and Sadie Kenosi were competing in the 57 kg and 60 kg categories, respectively. In the men’s category, Kobamelo Molatlhegi was representing the country in the 52 kg division, while Rajab Mahomed was competing in the under 51 kg category.George Molwantwa was competing for under 57 kg category and Treasure Moremi was competing for under 60kg category.
The boxers came home with seven medals, Modukanele came home with a gold medal, Kenosi, Rajab, Molatlhegi all came home with silver medals. While Moremi, Molwantwa and Phekie Bele all came home with bronze medals.
According to Moitshepi Nkabiti, the public relations officer of the Botswana Boxing Association, the team performed well and that they were hoping that Rajab would also bring home a gold medal. However, due to an eye injury, he could not participate in the finals.
He stated that, “though some people might think that how our team performed is not an achievement it is a big achievement to us. Other countries came with 19 boxers while we only came with our seven boxers, and they all came back with medals. That is something that we have to be proud of I really commend them for their performance. Having 5 players making it to the finals is really a blessing and we should not take it for granted.”
According to Nkabiti, Botswana was ranked fourth in the zone 4 championship, which was held in Mozambique. Other countries that participated in the tournament included South Africa, Zambia, Eswatini, and Seychelles. They all had a total of 19 boxers. Lesotho also had eight boxers.
The first Mascom Charity Cup spectacular has come and gone. The football event played at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium saw four football clubs playing one-day tourney with various charity centres being beneficiaries of the gate takings.
While the attendance was not at the expected level, it is said that the sponsor has made a killing with close to P500 000 made from voting lines. Football followers were asked to vote for teams of their choice, and top four clubs were eligible to play. A single sms voting line cost P 1.50.
Gaborone United became the most voted team with 62 984 votes followed by Security Systems with 51 027. On the third spot was BDF XI with 48 596 votes while Orapa United came forth with 44 401. Shockingly, Township Rollers did not make it after gathering a total of 30 637 votes, with BR Highlanders ahead of them having seen 44 204 votes to their name.
It is said, however that, the initiative live to expectation as clubs together with the sponsor have managed to assist charities of their choices. Mascom is believed to be happy for identifying beneficiaries and getting value for their money.
The mobile network company is still the longest standing partners of local football, having first tasted waters in 2005. The company now powers the Top 8 competition and said to have renewed the dame sponsorship at a value not exceeding 18 million. The Mascom Charity Cup was not the first to be hosted by a mobile network company.
In 2018, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) hosted a similar event in which followers had to vote. The four participating teams were Mochudi Center Chiefs, Gaborone United, Orapa United and Township Rollers. GU were the eventual winners.
It is however not clear if the tournament will continue in the next football calendar, but what goes down into the history books is that Teenage Mpote and Orapa United were the first to win it. In previous years, there have been an off season tournament whose aim was meant for charity purposes. The tourney was called Kabelano Charity Cup and was usually played by four big teams (Rollers, Notwane, GU and Chiefs) without taking the voting routes. It was last hosted in 2015 and had Barclays as the sponsors.
Yet another thrilling showdown is expected between the country’s hottest strikers, Thabang Sesinyi of Jwaneng Galaxy and Thataoyaone Kgamanyane of Gaborone United, as the duo are eyeing for the 2021/2022 Golden boot.
With only four Botswana Premier League (BPL) games left, the race for the honours is rolling towards a thrilling climax, but for two individuals there is a race for an accolade of their own taking place that could easily go down to the final minutes of the season. Leading the pack with 19 goals is Jwaneng Galaxy talisman, Sesinyi who is one goal apart from Kgamanyane who has netted 18 goals thus far.
Both players have their eye on the golden boot, hoping that their respective teams have fixtures to put them in with a realistic chance of catching up, or leaving the other behind. The Money Machine is currently at the summit of the BPL log with 61 points while the mining giant, Galaxy are trailing on the third place with 49 points, having played 24 games thus far.
Both teams (GU and Galaxy) are expected to face each other towards the end of the season, as the initial fixture was postponed due to Galaxy’s involvement in CAF championship group stages. With 19 goals chalked up for the season so far, Sesinyi is just one goal away from Kgamanyane who led the race for the better part of the campaign. Sesinyi who is on freakish scoring form has scored four goals in his last two games; a hat trick against Prisons XI and a goal against Sua Flamingoes in the midweek fixture.
But there is no doubt that Sesinyi is no longer playing to carry his team, Galaxy, as realistically there is a slim chance for them to clinch the 2021/2022 season, but he is eyeing the Golden Boot Award when the league falls off.
Kgamanyane has begun the season in tremendous form; scoring every time he is given a chance, while Sesinyi, on the other hand, reached the peak of his form in the second round of the season; scoring both in the domestic league and also on the CAF Champions’ league group stage. He featured on team of the week on February.
Furthermore, the Money Machine attacker showed some growth as his conversion rate has been on a rising graph in the games he has so far played. Although Kgamanyane’s goal scoring prowess has been there for everyone to see, the player has been hampered by injuries. It promises to be a fascinating battle between the duo.
Meanwhile, BPL this week announced that they will hold the 2021/2022 awards. The league has since added seven new categories to take the total number of categories to 16. Among some new categories are the Defender of the Season and Midfielder of the Season awards. There are also two more awards for the administrators, as the league has included Team Manager of the Season and the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Season awards.
The best performing players in this campaign will be included in the Premier League Best XI. Nevertheless, match day officials have also been recognised with the introduction of two more categories in the young Referee of the Season and the Female Referee of the Season. Furthermore, BFL CEO Solomon Ramochotlhwane indicated that the awards will be held on the 25 June 2022, just after the 2021-2022 season comes to an end.