Nikola dumps jilted JJ
Township Rollers head coach Nikola Kavazovic is reported to have orchestrated a move that would see striker Jerome ‘JJ’ Ramatlhakwane falling down Rollers playing radar.
WeekendSport learns that the Serbian born coach called the Zebras forward to a one-on-one meeting on Monday to relay the bad news. It is reported that Kavazovic told the player that he is surplus to requirement and therefore he will not be selected for any game unless he opts to leave.
Reports further state that JJ was not encouraged to fight for his position but was rather told that the trio of Joel Mogorosi, Mthokozisi Msomi and Edwin Moalosi are better players to be tasked with scoring responsibilities. Despite Rollers categorically stating that JJ decided to leave on his own, high ranking team sources told this publication that it is indeed the coach who asked the rest of his technical team to push for the termination of JJ’s contract. His contract was not expire next year.
It is indicated that not all that glitters is gold at the Jagdish Shah project. Reports from Rollers technical team further state that the coach runs the show alone. Issues of player favouritism have been raised but were internally dealt with. But the shocking departure of JJ appears to evoke the same. Msomi, nonetheless, is also believed to be close to leaving the club with Rashid Mandawa, former Rollers striker, is set to return.
The team is now believed to be eyeing Orapa United deadly striker Omaatla Kebatho as a possible replacement. This is a thinking made by club technical director Dragojol Stanjolovic, reports claim. Ramatlhakwane’s departure, all the while, is seen to be baffling particularly that he was seen as a better striker than Msomi – a South African export who was signed at the beginning of the season.
Some Rollers members say the future of the local striker was dulled by injuries and a confidence that refused to boom. He rejoined the glittering Rollers project a season ago after club blood rivals Mochudi Centre Chiefs could not meet his salary demands.
Seen as one of the best strikers the country has ever produced, JJ’s football career has however been oscillating. He had his best moments at the Kgatleng outfit during the seasons of 2009-10 and 2011. But his football form took a nose dive before Centre Chiefs could sell him to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) based giants Don Bosco. JJ has won one golden boot of the elite league in 2007-8 with 22 goals.
Rollers insist that they signed him genuinely to revive his football career, but in the eyes the coach, he has proved to be an expensive purchase than turned useless to The Blues and the management. There are other reports that he was released to make way for hard tackling midfielder Ofentse Nato who has since penned a 1 year agreement with the team. However, Jwaneng Galaxy is reported to be monitoring the situation with keen interest, and soon they will rush for his signature.
Township Rollers sources however continue to insist that the player was still part of their plans but the former Centre Chiefs marks man grew impatient and asked the club to release him. Sources say he wanted more game time so as to solidify his stance at the Senior National Team (The Zebras).
Rollers coach Kavazovic has however denied reports that he axed the player. He reiterated club comments that JJ was the first to ask to leave the team because he of his personal reasons. “No it is not true that I sacked the player, he is the one who wanted to leave, he said. When asked if JJ is a good striker, Kavazovic said, “JJ is an excellent striker, but he does not suit our style, instead Joel is better in our shape, I however wish him success where ever he goes.”
The move is believed to have also hurt Zebras head coach David Bright who is rumoured to be fond of the striker. Those close to Bright say the striker forms part of the back bone of plans that ‘Fakuda’ wishes to undertake this year.
When reached for comment, Bright refused to remark on the transfer of players.
However Township Rollers media liaison Bafana Pheto said JJ was the one who requested to be released and no negotiation with him could have made him change his mind. “JJ made a special request that he be released, he was still contracted to the club, and there was no way we could have let him go. He even preferred to abscond from Wednesday training,” he said.
Ramatlhakwane however has room to thrive though age is a definite factor. His link-up play with midfielders has always been impressive and should he complete a move to Galaxy in time, the mining club will benefit a lot. JJ can drop deep, orchestrate play, win aerial duels, and of course take penalties. But his tendency of missing clear cut chances has earned him the wrath of some Zebras supporters. His slow thinking at crucial times- is seen to be his greatest weakness.
ROLLERS STATEMENT ON JJ: Township Rollers Football Club would like to inform that the club has released striker Jerome Ramatlhakwana. The two parties decided to amicably part ways following the player’s request to leave the club after his internal discussions with the technical team and management. Although the club made effort to retain the player, a decision was eventually reached to cordially part ways. We thank JJ for his service to Township Rollers FC and wish him well in his footballing career.
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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.”