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.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) is running without a substantive Technical Director since parting ways with South African native, Serame Letsoaka, who jumped ship midway through his contract in 2019.
This glaring revelation has left the Technical Department of the association hamstrung to fully operate by the book hence a plethora of problems protruding on the very nose of it.
This is the reason it took long for the association to take stern action against Zebras gaffer, Adel Amrouche. His departure was sanctioned at the eleventh hour when players’ patience had long wilted, threatening to leave the camp.
Pundits will therefore observe that it is the absence of a Technical Director that has caused all hell to break loose at Lekidi Football Centre.Since the departure of Letsoaka, the TD position has been more or less vacant as it has been manned by unqualified and somewhat incompetent administrators to date.
The TD position requires a CAF A-License qualification as well as a Diploma in Secondary Education as minimum qualifications. Among the specific duties of TD is; training and development of coaches, including design and updating of coaches manuals, facilitating licensing courses, developing a coaches Code of Conduct, arranging for expert and specialist coaches to deliver training clinics, education on rules of the game and creating and maintaining a library of resources including books, videos and articles for coaches to access.
The responsibility also include establishing and delivering a comprehensive and nationwide Grassroots programme at both the community level, in schools, and in the schools through clubs through strategic partnerships within the communities and with various government ministries and agencies.
TD also advices BFA on all matters related to the effective development of football in Botswana and is accountable for the development of a strategy and policy for the performance of football programmes.
Other duties include working with Youth National teams and coaches through development programmes in order to enable BFA to attain its goals within CAF and FIFA, including putting in place clear systems and processes for identifying and developing talented players.
After Letsoaka left, BFA reached out to Wire Kaelo, a Gaborone United legend currently holding the position of assistant coach at Security System FC, but eventually he was not appointed to the post.
Despite rumours to the effect that BFA had agreed terms with Kaelo to this day, the Association has not come out as to what happened to the alleged marriage.
BFA subsequently appointed one Dr Carolin Braun, on secondment from the German Olympic organisation, a move that left the association rooted in abrasive factionalism.
In particular, local coaches and the general football fanatics have always cried foul claiming that Dr Braun is not fit to hold the position of TD especially in a growing football environment like Botswana.
There is growing concern that Dr Braun does not have the pre-requisite credentials to be appointed for this plum post as she has never held any significant position within the football fraternity, not even at amateur level.
“It was a first in the history of Botswana football to see a TD doubling up as assistant coach to the senior national team and there has been no tangible coaching courses since the departure of Serame Letsoaka and this has been attributable to the vacant position of TD,” a source remarked.
BFA is currently failing to communicate CAF’s decision that the ill-fated CAF “B” and “C” courses held during Serame’s last days were not sanctioned and therefore attendants will not be certificated.
Over 50 local coaches participated in the courses and last year, most of those coaching in the Premier League had to be given waivers by the BFA Technical Committee before they could be accredited.
CAF has since indicated that the issue of waivers by national associations will not be entertained, something which might throw local games into disarray.BFA is still failing to come up with a coaching philosophy despite Serame having started groundwork before his departure.
Other countries such as Zambia have since resumed CAF coaching courses whilst in Botswana is still business as usual despite the impending challenges caused by indiscretion and lack of foresight.
Despite BFA having advertised the position of TD and subsequently holding interviews where recommendations were done by the Technical and Development Committee, the BFA NEC has refused to endorse the recommendation for reasons only best known to them.
Yet, there is a lingering fact that the NEC is clueless when it comes to technical matters. There is not even a single individual in the NEC who holds any coaching qualification including the Chairman of the member responsible for technical and development matters, Masego Ntshingane.
When asked about the position of the TD, Ntshingane said the association is well aware of the matter and will son fill the post. “Yes, it is true the association has not appointed a TD after Letsoaka’s departure, but we are working around the clock to hire capable people,” he said.
However, local coaches believe that it’s a travesty of justice to expect non-technical people to make meaningful contributions on technical matters to the extent that they can veto recommendations from a committee of renowned technical experts.
It is not business as usual in the operations manual of African football. Ever since the ascendency of Dr. Patrice Motsepe to the CAF plum post, the African football governing body is ringing changes to satisfy the demands and governance standards of the modern game.
However, it appears that what is coming out from the high offices of the game is a bitter pill to swallow for local clubs, some of which are touted to be the best in the land.
Connectedly, CAF has issued a circular to the effect that only coaches holding the CAF “A” education license will be permitted to sit on the technical dugout during the upcoming inter club competitions. This communication has been sent to all 54 CAF member associations in May 2021.
However, it seems local clubs have not been appraised on this development even though both Jwaneng Galaxy and Orapa United have shown desire to represent the country in the CAF competitions.
It comes to the fore now that the two clubs can successfully represent the country if they engage coaches with the pre-requisite qualifications which is now an insurmountable task due to the COVID-19 impact on club finances.
Both clubs have hired coaches who attended the ill-fated BFA conducted CAF “B” and “A” coaching courses which were held in Lobatse almost two years ago.
To date the coaches await the completion of the courses and certificates while CAF has made it clear that the courses were not sanctioned as they were held during the era that coaching licenses were suspended, a situation that BFA was well aware of and has since accepted the consequences.
The BFA is still at sixes and sevens on how to break the issue to the affected coaches as it is likely to cause a huge public embarrassment and backlash from the coaching fraternity.
“We all know about the problem, BFA is promising to come to the bottom of the matter as we continue to engage them,” says Botswana Football Coaches Association (BFCA) interim President, Daniel Nare.
CAF has also made it clear that this time there will be no waiver for coaches without the pre-requisite qualification because the Confederation has been too lenient in the past. During the last CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup, both Galaxy and Orapa United coaches were given a reprieve by CAF Technical Department as they did not even have the CAF “B” license.
When approached for clarity, the Spokesperson for Galaxy, Tankiso Morake said they are playing a waiting game when it comes to CAF issues especially that BFA is yet to reply to their letter. “Honestly, there is nothing concrete I can share because no one is certain about anything. We are waiting to be replied by the association so that we can finalize everything,” he said.
While United was not available for comment, it is clear that both clubs will need to hire coaches with the needed qualifications otherwise playing in this year’s edition of African football mirrors a tomorrow that may never come.
A recent study shows that Township Rollers is not only popular within the perimeters of Botswana, but has also made significant steps within the digital football platforms in Africa.
Out of the 70 African football clubs ranked on the African football digital benchmark, Township Rollers comes on the 35th position backed by a massive social media following. The club website records more than 399 000 followers and is seen as the most interactive in the local game.
This is consistent with the recent study conducted by FIFA- world football governing body- that Rollers is the only team locally that makes use of its digital platforms.
Notably, it comes out that the gap between Township Rollers and the rest of the 15 Premier League clubs is abysmal, this therefore works against creating a strong BPL brand value.
Rollers is the only club with more than 50 000 followers on Facebook, more than 20 000 followers on Twitter while its Instagram platform stands strong at 27 800 followers.
However, it is found out that much of the BPL brand value is killed by some social Facebook football fan accounts. They have stood long and have thus attracted more followers than the official accounts. Pages like Killers Pass and Botswana Football have consequently seen more than 100 000 following. Both of the accounts give 24 hour on-going updates of football’s latest news, transfers, results, video and live updates.
FIFA has therefore come to a conclusion that the two social media pages have grown interactive since they incite followers to answer and present their impressions about local football.
It comes into the open that 70 percent of domestic premier league clubs do not have official websites. This according to FIFA, kills the brand and visibility of clubs hence failure to attract lucrative sponsors by the clubs. FIFA also found out that the remaining 30 percent of clubs with websites are lacklustre and found wanting when it comes to their online presence. But in this regard, Rollers is on pole position.