In the Bible, David, despite his small physique, defeated the monstrous Goliath. Zebras, one of the under-achieving national teams in Africa, from a country with one of the smallest populations in Africa, now has a David who is expected to Brighten prospects in a Major way.
The big question is whether Major Bright will do a Bible David on the Goliaths of African football. Former Zebras players are guarded in their assessment but the scales tip in favour of the former army major’s return to national team coaching. A good number of former senior national football team players are confident that Major David Bright could propel the senior national team, Zebras, to respectable rankings following his appointment as the national team coach for the next three years.
Bright takes over from Briton, Peter James Butler whose loose canon antics did not help his cause as the Zebras’ poor showing in Africa continued albeit a resurgence of public support, especially in the north. The national team legends who always express concern over the propensity to sideline them on national team matters came out of the woods to contribute words of encouragement and praise for Bright and the decision to appoint him.
The charismatic coach, who has also coached in the South African Leagues characteristically took an oath during his unveiling this week. He believes he can deliver on the goals set by Botswana Football Association (BFA) President, MacClean Letshwiti and his team.
The players, Khumo Motlhabane and Seabo Gabanakgosi, agree that ‘Fakude’ has the know-how of evacuating the team from a pit of misery following Peter Butler’s almost failed attempt at redeeming Zebras. However they both give guarded praise poised with caution. While it is a tough call for Bright to entrench a national team DNA, reach COSAFA finals, qualify for CHAN finals, reach AFCON qualifying stage and World Cup group stages, there is an air of optimism from former players that the coach could produce the needed results.
There is almost consensus that with his disciplinarian style and better understanding of local players, Zebras can reach the height set by former Zebras mentor, Stanley Tshosane. Bright is all on the right corner because the BFA President, Letshwiti believes in him and has said he is ready to channel all the necessary resources to the team.
An Ex-national team player who once worked with the former Mogoditshane Fighters coach at the national team posits that, just like wine, Bright matures with age. “He is one coach who grows with time, I worked with him nine years back but if you look at the training methods he uses now – they are contemporary,” he said.
“The only problem is working with Sthando (Mogwadi), they are both old there was a need for a younger assistant to complement him because football has evolved and they have been away from mainstream football for some time,” further observes Motlhabane. According to the hard-tackling defender popularly known as ‘Shoes’ – Chicco Nare, Pio Paul, and Tumie Duiker could have been the more sensible additions in the technical team. However he is itching for the coach to maintain the core of players that were selected by Butler. “Those players will suit his style of play because they are skillful,” he said.
Bright revealed to journalists that the players categorically told him that they prefer short passes football. On the other hand another former player who wouldn’t want to be named said Bright shouldn’t be too strict on the players. “His man-management tactics will be tested, nowadays players own cars; and are handsomely paid, so if he becomes too imposing they could fail him. His CV is decorated but he has failed at bigger teams (GU & Rollers) so I hope he has improved on that regard because it could backfire.”
Another former national team captain, Seabo Gabanakgosi says Bright is the right man for the national team. “There have been issues within the team with players going out, with the firm Bright, those will be issues of the past as he will instill discipline that is currently lacking in the team. Again he understands the players and as a Motswana this is a plus for him to bring the results, his man-management style will be pivotal in bringing results,” he concludes.
The newly formed Botswana Coaches Association chaired by Nelson Olebile has also sung praises for the gaffer. “He has vast experience in local football and he is a winner and as an association we are behind him all the way,” he said. Asked to comment on the localization of national team technical benches, Olebile said: “We want football development, so we shouldn’t deny ourselves the opportunity to learn from others; anyone with the right qualifications should take the job. Anyone valuable who can help us entrench the DNA is fine, but remember we are just advisors, BFA makes the final decision,” concluded Olebile, whose association is still awaiting membership approval from the BFA.
FIFA currently ranks Botswana at position 138 out 211 while CAF rankings pits Zebras at position 40 out of 56 countries. Botswana’s FIFA highest ranking was position 53 achieved in 2010 under Stanley Tshosane. The lowest rankings was position 165, recorded in 1999. Butler’s highest ranking was position 91 recorded in 2016. The P85, 000. 00 per month worth Briton, who is now with Platinum Stars in South Africa had 7 wins, 14 loses, and 1 draw under his belt, a somewhat poor record, according to many. Bright is expected to improve on this dismissal record starting this weekend.
The case involving the improper registration of Township Rollers left back, Onkarabile Ratanang which has been dragging for a long time since the beginning of this year was finally put to bed this week after Botswana Football League (BFL) Disciplinary Committee (DC) found Mapalastina guilty.
In what shocked many football fanatics this week, Popa Popa as they are affectionately known by their legion of fans were fined P15 000 for using a defaulter in some of their league matches. It must be noted that no team officially filed a formal protest against Rollers. In April this year, Botswana Football Association (BFA) Secretariat conducted investigations into registration of Ratanang and discovered that the player was registered outside the transfer registration period.
According to a statement from secretariat, it revealed that BFA registration period was from 13th July 2021 to the 30th September 2021 but Ratanang was registered on the 28th of October 2021 and this was done contrary to the rules and statutes of the BFA. After the investigations were conducted, two officials from Rollers and a former BFA employee Setete Phuthego who are alleged to have been implicated in the registration of Ratanang were suspended from all footballing activities.
The two Rollers officials were, General Manager Sydney Magagane and Team Manager Motshegetsi Mafa. However Mafa’s suspension was withdrawn on June 27 though there was no disciplinary hearing conducted. Rollers was represented by Bennett Mamelodi who is the CEO of the club together with Kgosietsile Ngaakagae and Martin Dingake in the Ratanang case. The Botswana Premier League (BFL) Prosecution team was led by Chalengwa Manyepedza, Bojosi and three other members.
When delivering the long awaited judgement on Thursday, Manyepedza who is the chairman of BFL Prosecution team said there were two mitigating factors in favour of Rollers with the most important aggravating factor being the seriousness of the offence. “To their benefit and it has not been violently contested to suggest otherwise, Rollers approached the BFA office for help (in their words) and curiously the BFA office that ought to be custodians of the system allowed the request and thereafter kept quiet about the matter,” reads part of the judgement.
“It is a matter of record that Township Rollers have maintained that the situation central to the case was facilitated and somewhat sanctioned by the named BFA officer who received the application albeit out of time as it has been established but still proceeded to procure the registration and clearance of the player and thereafter kept quiet about the matter.”
Furthermore Manyepedza indicated that there is a problem in the BFA office in terms of governance and adherence to controls judging from what allegedly happened. He further said whilst the BFA junior officer claimed that they were directed by a superior officer to assist the accused, “there has been nothing more placed before us to support the argument that Rollers were the only party with dirt on their hands in his case.”
He went on to emphasize that the committee finds that the appropriate sanction should also pronounce that the respective office of the BFA that facilitated the transgression was also remiss and complicit in their discharge of their functions. “As stated in the main judgement the player was a defaulter and the issue of his status did not arise from the protest or complaint or in any way as contemplated in the BFL Disciplinary code. It must be emphasized that the case would been different if all the issues had an aggrieved party or if any would have followed the set procedure in the BFL code,” he said.
Manyepedza said after taking all relevant factors into account including the demands of justice, the committee finds it fitting that the possible punishment in the matter to be prescribed above at clause 6.3 to be a fine of P15 000 and that the fine should be paid within 3 days of the judgement. In conclusion, he cautioned Rollers to refrain from any further acts of being negligent or clumsy in discharging their office functions to end up seeking favours from officials. Manyepedza also advised Rollers that they have 10 days to appeal the judgement.
Youthful coach Wame Mokoke has come out with guns blazing to the Extension Gunners official who he said recruited him back to the club after he dumped them for greener pastures at Jwaneng Galaxy but failed to deliver on their promises.
Pepe Zino, as he is otherwise known, then joined Galaxy on a 2 year deal to deputise head coach Morena Ramorebodi but 2 weeks later retraced his steps back to Mapantsula, a move he highly regrets. “That guy (name withheld as the issue is now before the courts of law) counteroffered what Galaxy had offered, promised to timely pay my salary from his company on behalf of Gunners and also promised me a 4 hectare piece of land at Dikgonnye, that is what really lured me back but he failed to deliver, ” Mokoke said in an interview with this publication.
After rejoining Gunners much to the allured charm that was dangled in front of him, Mokoke timely received his first month salary back in January but nothing thereafter as the unending stories began. “I could be far by now as Galaxy offered me an opportunity of a lifetime. They even promised to further my coaching badges but look at where I am now, “Mokoke disappointedly explained.
However, Mokoke said he has approached the labour courts for his defaulted payments and as for the piece of land, he registered the case with the High Court of Botswana and they are set to appear for a hearing on the 6th of August. He further added that he has proof of all the documents the official allegedly signed before his own laywers to authorise the land giveaway and the promise of monthly salary payments and furnished the judges with them.
A week ago Mokoke went back home as he was unveiled as the new First Division side Mahalapye Highlanders head coach on a 2 year deal and said he is excited about the new challenge that lies ahead of him as the management gave him attainable goals. “They simply asked me come and help them get promoted back to the premier league by building my own team and promised to avail the resources. I have also been given the authority over the establishment of our junior teams.
To try and achieve all these in a space of 2 years is a fair requirement,” he added. One of the projects Mokoke envisions is to try and unite the people of Mahalapye in terms of trying to get fully behind Highlanders including the supporters and the players in and around the Mahalapye area.
For starters, Mokoke said he wants to alter the tradition that has ingrained at Highlanders as majority of the players there were not from the team’s area of abode and he wants to give Mahalapye players a chance in order for them to don the blue and white of Highlanders with pride and sense of belonging and to steer the ship.
Furthermore, Mokoke is equally peturbed by the trend among the football fraternity of local coaches being undermined while their foreign counterparts enjoy prestigious welfare albeit being equally qualified as them. “Let us change the welfare of our local coaches who have oftentimes showed that they are equally qualified and capable like foreign coaches. Let us invest in our own and also empower them,” said Mokoke in a parting shot.
Botswana shall be sending a team of 34 athletes to represent the country at the biggest games of the 2022 calendar year, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, officially known as the XXII Commonwealth Games.
The Games are slated to take place between the 28th July and 8th August 2022 in Birmingham, England. According to BNSOC, Botswana has been accorded thirty-five (35) slots at the upcoming games and has been able to qualify outright one athlete from the Botswana Weightlifting Federation making the total team size thirty-six (34), the largest team to be fielded by less population country thus far.
In celebrating and lauding this feat by team Botswana, , the British High Commissioner to Botswana, Her Excellency Sian Price recently hosted an intimate reception for the team, at her residence. “Consider this little bit of the UK in Botswana the first stage on your journey to Birmingham. It’s not just me that is excited to have you here, the city of Birmingham is very excited to welcome you, and they are welcoming you and all other family members from across the commonwealth because we are a family of nations, and we enjoy these celebrations that introduce the coming together of family to play together, to celebrate together and to strive together for excellence,” said Price.
Price said this will be the most inclusive Commonwealth Games ever, with more para sports than ever before and for the first time in history this makes me excited; there will be more medal events for women than for men. When addressing the athletes, BNOC CEO Botho Bayendi reveals to ‘unveil’ the concept that is believed to be mastered seed that will grow and bear fruit as they go to Birmingham from today up to the day of departure in 2024.
“As BNOC we have partnered with BITC, and BNSC to conceive a concept called the first, the best and the number one. In this concept, we are trying to persuade the mindset of the people to say that sports is for sports for live, sports generate joy to us all and sports unite,” she said. Bayendi further explained that this is a concept where they will be approaching individuals and companies who in their line of business have been classified as the best of the best or the number one.
“We intend to leverage the national unity behind sports in relation to the ultimate sports excellence. We are saying that we want to create an atmosphere where everybody, every national of Botswana will relate positively with the sports excellence and will be contributing that excellence,” she said. “The Olympic Games are guided by the values of excellence, friendship, and respect. Therefore, we want to be selling these values and allowing everybody, the company, individual to relate with these values.”
For his part chairman of Botswana Olympic Association France Mabiletsa, a former Olympian, said athletes should dream big so that those who come after them will enjoy and benefit from their dreams. He advised them to just enjoy their sport. “Don’t take drugs, don’t dodge from the camps because the moment you start dodging, or you don’t come back you will be punished severely,” he said. Standard charted bank CEO Mpho Masupe said it is important that as athletes they look in the long term and see where they can excel so that they know whether they could make a good coach, teacher, or instructor, saying they should not limit themselves.