The return of Botswana 400m princess to the track has sparked excitement within the athletics paradise. KETUMILE RAMATITI concurs with the argument that her return must be celebrated.
Once Botswana’s athletic queen, Amantle Montsho, now 34 years, has returned to the track two years after International Athletics Association Federation (IAAF) suspended her for doping. The 400m runner would be aiming to turn back the clock with a seemingly practical victory at the upcoming National championships, World relays in Bahamas and World champs in London later this year.
The Maun born runner was suspended apparently for consuming a prohibited substance Methlyhexaneamine in 2014 at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland. However, when Weekendsport visited the runner in one of her morning training sessions this week, Montsho looked like that timid and vigorous 21 year old girl who was hungry for success in the build up to the 2004 Athens Olympics where she set a 400m national record of 53:77. In training, her energy would leave the greenhorns like Galefele Moroko and Lydia Jele ashamed of themselves, and indeed confirming the return of one of distinguished Botswana athlete.
“I have been doing gym sessions and road work,” said Montsho who has maintained that 2010 physical structure and shape when she clinched a number of major title. Her passion and discipline to continue training even at a time when dogs were barking at her, is a potent that could ensure that she feeds the doubting thomases who have already drafted her obituary a humble pie.
“She is a very disciplined athlete and we are happy for her return. If you look at how she performs in training there is no difference between her and those who have been around,” said Montsho’s coach, Mogomotsi Otsetswe. Other athletics coaches who spoke to this publication also echoed her discipline and believe that it will be an X-factor in her return to the track.
“Her discipline is the only factor that differentiates her from the rest and I believe she hasn’t regressed much because she is so committed to the sport,” Coach Chilume Ntshwarang added. The golden girl as the athlete was fondly called at the height of her career in 2010, is not rushing for any medal thus far, but with her mentality as seen on Thursday morning, Montsho will walk away with a medal in the upcoming national championships where she has focused her energy.
“My eyes are primarily set for the national championships,” said the typically shy but hardworking Montsho. Before her forced hibernation by the athletics authorities, Montsho’s had an illustrious athletic career with her all time personal best of 49:33 in the world championships.
This time around with the same event on the line the athlete is not brave enough to challenge for a medal, but other competitors have all the reasons to worry as she is aiming to remove all the negativity that surrounds her. The athlete who revealed that she will resign after this athletic season as age is not on her side, has a point to prove to the world, and the World relays and World Champs present that opportunity to further embed her name on the hearts of many.
With age not on her side and many saying a medal is an impracticable dream for the runner, Montsho agrees; “Batswana shouldn’t expect anything much from me, I’m just gaining my fitness.” However, with age comes experience and it is expected to be rubbed to other curbing athletes. “Everyone want to record a better time compared to that of Montsho hence the competition is now high in the team,” Otsetswe said.
The 34 year old will be looking to ride on the same lane used by among others, 40 year old Kim Collins who competed at last year’s Olympics. Another coach, Oabona Theetso, is of the view that this return will boost the development of a girl child. “It is a major boost for the 400m ladies team, we need her experience to motivate them since she was their mentor.
They would all want to prove their mettle against her especially in the national championships where everyone would be watching.” Perhaps Theetso is right, as the young athletes were all in smiles when doing drills with the former World Champion.
The mega transfer of one Thatayaone Ditlhokwe from Township Rollers to South Africa’s SuperSport United has left Gaborone United (GU) desperate for the ‘purchase benefits’ and the latter has consistently phoned Rollers to pay back their share for supposedly grooming the player.
Ditlhokwe, a former GU defender, was sold to SuperSport at an estimated fee of P 2 million late last year. When the sale was negotiated, and it was agreed that GU will receive at least 15% of the sale, sources say.
This therefore means Rollers has to pay GU P 300 000.
According to reliable sources, Rollers is yet to process GU’s benefits because SuperSport United is taking long to complete the transfer fee. However, Jagdish Shah, the financer of Rollers, is said to be ready to pay GU’s dues as soon as the time is right.
In any case, it is said the two clubs are fighting a boardroom brawl. Regarded as the fiercest cross town rivals, GU was incensed to lose Ditlhokwe to Rollers in the first place. The underlying scuffle, to date, is catalysed by misplaced documents and trust that has grown seriously thin between the two clubs.
It is said that GU cannot find the contract between Rollers and SuperSport so as to officially bill their claim. Sources put it that GU had written twice to Rollers asking them to forward a copy of the said contract.
In the first instance, it is said that Rollers cooperated and did as GU requested. However, GU is said to have lost the contract and went back to Rollers for another copy. Rollers according to sources then refused to budge. There are claims that GU is now stuck in one place.
Rollers media liaison Phemperetlhe Pheto said it is difficult to talk about contracts to third parties. He however implored GU to avail the contract for them to claim their fees without doubts.
“I am disturbed to talk about contracts of players to media but bear in mind that we cannot act when GU is failing to submit what they have as a proof,” he said.
When Rollers tried to sign Argentinean born gaffer, Rudolph Zapata, three seasons ago, GU fought tooth and nail to block him from joining the ranks of their number one enemy. They delayed to release his work permits accusing him and Rollers of sinister motives.
To this date, GU is livid that Rollers nearly paralyzed their camp when they recruited striker Tumisang Orebonye, defender Jackson Lesole and the very same Ditlhokwe, to offer them lucrative contracts.
Just a year ago, the fight between the two clubs almost took a nasty turn. It started when GU wrote to the Botswana Football Association (BFA) questioning the coaching credentials of Rollers former coach, Frank Nuttall, together with his assistants, Leutwetse Tshireletso and Zachariah Mudzazi. Then, GU was seen to be shifting posts when consistently asked to rectify the situation involving their coach, Pontsho Moloi. It was found out that Moloi was not fit to coach in the elite level according to the requirements of club licensing.
But as things stand, GU will count on the words of Shah, whom many football administrators label as a ‘man of integrity.’
Ditlhokwe signed a three year deal with SuperSport last year. The 22-year-old helped Rollers to lift the Botswana Premier League trophy in the 2018/19 season and was rewarded with a national team call up.
The Botswana international played an important role for his side in the 2019 COSAFA Cup in South Africa as captain, Ditlhokwe also helped Zebras finish 2nd in the tournament losing to Zambia in the final.
The Ministry of Youth Sport and Culture Development has agreed to refurbish the dilapidated Molepolole Sports Complex.
The development consequently means premier league teams and local clubs will not be able to utilise the facility in the upcoming season.
The stadium with a carrying capacity of 6 600, was earmarked by premier league rookies Masitaoka as home-ground.
The ministry has further revealed that the stadium will need a budget of about 5 million Pula to relay the turf and renovate a water drainage system that has worn out. The contractors are expected to commence work in the not so distant future.
The pitch surface is artificial and was first installed in 2008 at FIFA’s request and the presidency of Philp Makgalemele. In 2010, it was chosen as one of two host stadiums for the COSAFA Under-20 Challenge.
“We have funds to refurbish the Molepolole Stadium for two main projects; the relaying of turf and renovation of water reticulation system. The stadium will therefore be out of bounds when contracted companies begin their works,” the Chairman of Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) confirmed.
The Ministry of sport is further expected to file a communication with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development notifying them to start a monitoring exercise when the renovations begin.
The reconstruction of this stadium and others is however feared to coincide with the long intention of the government to improve sport infrastructure throughout the country.
Earlier this year, the sport ministry has also requested a budget of about P 33 million to renovate and improve the VIP lounge of Francistown Sport Complex, now known as Obed Chilume stadium.
The President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi, said the government continues to improve sporting infrastructure as part of the grassroots sport development programme. He said this in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) two years ago.
This financial year, P50 million was allocated for the construction of 10 community sport facilities or mini stadia, around the country.
“These will be basic sport facilities for youth recreation, and will consist of boundary wall, an artificial turf, soccer pitch and changing rooms with ablution facilities,” he said.
The facilities are earmarked for Tonota, Mmadinare, Bobonong, Tutume, Kasane, Goodhope, Kanye, Rakops, Tsabong and Moshupa.
Enterprising midfielder, Dirang Moloi, is in talks with premier league rookies Masitaoka Football Club about possibilities of joining as a free agent, having last played for troubled Extension Gunners last season.
Moloi, touted as the best midfielder of his generation, is said to be ready to hang his boots but not before playing for Masitaoka, the promising outfit whose administration is now the envy of other premier teams, especially the older ones.
However, it appears that there is a stumbling block as Moloi is requesting for conditions that are beyond the club’s reach. Moloi, with a substantial premier league experience, where player wages are not always guaranteed, wants to partner with the club through his side businesses to make profit.
Sources say Moloi does not desperately yearn for a monthly salary, but wants some benefits as the club makes money through other means.
Operating as a football company, Masitaoka has plenty of sponsors and it is why Moloi wants a share of the profits for each replica jersey the team sells. He also wants the club to partner with his security company to further rake in profits rather than waiting on a meagre salary that is not certain especially during turbulent periods of corona virus. This, according to sources may weigh heavily on Masitaoka’s situation that consequently will collapse the talks.
All the while, it is said Moloi will no longer be a first-choice selection but Neslon Olebile, the team’s head coach, hopes that his personality and experience will serve to inspire the rest of the attacking options, most notably the younger players.
Masitaoka have always sought to have leaders in their squad, players who have won big games and can bolster the collective belief. Their hunger to sign Galabgwe Moyana in the next season is rooted in part, by what he could bring away from the field.
Moloi, some reports say may join partly on probation and eventually sign to play as the season goes on, but not to inspire, as he once declared he is about to quit Botswana football.
The club sources however say that there is no option built into the deal for him to join them with non- football conditions.
Masitaoka are however desperate for Moloi’s services and will want him to bring calmness and stability to a side that has begun to dream big. The Molepolole base outfit is eyeing a spot in the finals of Orange FA Cup. Once football resumes, the club will play against Calendar Stars in the quarter finals.
Moloi has won a handful of trophies and medals during his salad days at Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Township Rollers.