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Mafoko hangs his boots after glory

An excited Boitumelo Mafoko announced his early retirement a fortnight ago at Francistown but while it may have come as a shock to many; perhaps even to himself as he may not have planned to spill the beans yet, he could have not chosen a better time to bid farewell to football following his two decades of chasing the pig skin, writes KETUMILE RAMATITI


The experienced defender Mafoko, amid excitement and euphoria of having won a second Mascom Top 8 medal let the cat out of bag that he would not return to the field next season.

His town’s mayor, the team chairman and his lieutenants were all in attendance and celebrating the emphatic 4-3 win against arch rivals Orapa United. It was at the height of this ecstasy, which he contributed to by netting the second goal while marshalling the defence with great dexterity against the ruthless Orapa attacking force that he chose to bid farewell to the sport.


The victory at Francistown where ‘Navara’ made his name while cutting his first teeth at Tasc, saw him being one of the rare players to have won the tournament twice. In fact in all the finals he played he was match day captain and to top that, he netted in both finals. Unfortunately, ‘Madala’ as his team mates call him, has managed only two medals in his 20 years playing football. His first ever mainstream medal was in 2014 with BDF XI before early this month with the new kid in the block, Galaxy. Before then he had notched gold at the Kabelano competition while with Township Rollers.


“It was one of the best games in my football life, and I should say that it is my last final of the tournament,” the virtually jubilant Galaxy captain revealed. “I don’t know how to describe the feeling but I’m so ecstatic and at the end of this season I will be hanging my football boots. I have done my part; I’m old and I should focus on my job, I’m a miner by the way. Maybe I will bounce back to football after a year,” the 36 year old revealed on the sidelines of the ‘diamond final’.


Part of the reasons why the former national team captain is ending his illustrious career despite underachievement in terms of winning medals, is to give youngsters a chance. “It is not like I can’t run or play, no, I can still run better than 50% of the players in the elite league.” He continued, “It is time to give others a chance, I have groomed a lot of players now they ought to take the baton. There a lot of players that I have groomed especially at national level, look at Mosha (Gaolaolwe) and company, it is time I hand over to them.”


The medal they notched on April Fool’s Day was the first for Galaxy, and seemingly, it was the one thing he had been waiting for before he could consider stepping back and allowing for other upcoming players to add on to the foundation he has laid. By his own admission, he has groomed a lot of players and in his absence; his legacy should continue to be seen in them. “My fondest memory will be with Galaxy, in my first season we finished in the top eight the second season we won the tournament,” he said.


Mafoko has had great impact in the upbringing of young players with all sides he has played for, including Tasc Rollers, Cape Town Santos, BDF XI. While he is certain that his mind is made and he will retire at the end of May, Mafoko has said he will still meet with his advisors where he might rethink the decision. “Personally I will be retiring but I will meet some other people and I might leave later maybe after 8 months.” Galaxy’s participation in the Confederations Africa Cup (CAF) is highly likely to influence his final decision.


National team coach Peter Butler will also have to scratch his head in order to identify a perfect replacement for the versatile former national team captain. He has been a pivotal cog marshalling the youngsters at the backline especially when Butler introduced the 3-5-2 format. Mafoko started his football at Moshopha Young Tigers before joining Tasc in 2000. Rollers then snatched him in 2005 and four years later he joined South African side Cape Town Santos. In 2012 after the AFCON finals he joined BDF XI before he found a home at Galaxy in 2014.

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