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Rollers’ quartet nears retirement

Albeit the slow start of the season by some of the big clubs, the football calendar year was billed as a breakthrough period for Township Rollers as team Coach, Mark Harrison, seeks to turn the club’s pot of gold into silverware.


So far, Rollers has recruited the best players with extensive experience and the expectation is that the Mma Masire side will bag both the BTC Premier League and Mascom top 8 cups and enrich their trophy cabinet. Also, the club would want to traverse a torrid passage of the CAF champion’s league, reaching group stages, at the very least.


However, the team is headed for tough times as 4 of its players, recruited to drive the team to glory are fast approaching retirement age. The quartet of Tshepo Motlhabankwe, Joel Mogorosi, Mogogi Gabonamong and Lawrence Majwawa are all on the wrong side of 30. Motlhabankwe is 36, Majawa is 35, Mogorosi is 32 while Mogogi is 33.


Injured Gabonamong is hoping for his own great leap forward in effort to end his injury nightmare. The no nonsense defender has not featured for the team this year owing to unspecified injuries. This is the first time, in his football career that he (Mogogi) missed the first five opening games of the season.


His absence has left Rollers struggling. But he too, could struggle to return to his full fitness and thus, missing the opportunity to drive Rollers back to glory, alongside the rest of a gilded quartet of the club. The teams’ insistency and promise to make a loud impact this season is yet to bear fruits. The quartet will have to stand strong, otherwise the ambition mirrors a gloomy picture for them and the club.


Majawa has played for the team for some time, while both Mogorosi and Motlhabankwe once played for Mochudi Centre Chiefs even though the former was making a second arrival at Palestine after enduring a difficult spell with South African teams. Gabonamong joined almost at the same time with Mogorosi two seasons ago, but it appears time is not on their side.


The talent of the big four, along with striker, Terrence Mandaza, who is also above 30, should make the case for Rollers to finally make headline impact, particularly in the CAF competition starting in January. The sense all could awaken for the business end is enhanced by their respective pedigrees. Away from the Rollers stage, Mogorosi was a Telkom player of the season while with Bloemfontein Celtic in his maiden season in 2013. Before joining Celtic, he won a golden boot with Mochudi Centre Chiefs. Motlhabankwe captained both Extension Gunners and Mochudi Centre Chiefs and was an instrumental cog when the Kgatleng outfit won the league unbeaten in 2008.

Gabonamong has also led South African power house, Super Sport united to finals of the Nedbank Cup in 2012/13 season against Kaizer Chiefs. But Majawa has been the most consistent player of all in the Rollers squad and it betrays logic why he was never called to represent his country of birth, Malawi.


In the first five games of the season, Rollers have been more on the luke warm side than expected. They started well, clobbering Selebi-Phikwe outfit by 3-1. Gabonamong was not in the starting lineup against premier league rookies, Black Forest, and they huffed and puffed. The absence of midfielder Majawa was conspicuously seen when they played a 2 all draw.


With FC Galaxy at Jwaneng, Majawa and Motlhabankwe demonstrated the needed qualities of leadership. The team looked bullish in all departments and Mogorosi was not heavily missed on an afternoon when Terrence Mandaza turned back the hands of time, scoring twice.There is no evidence that the quartet will remain donning the blue shirt in the next two seasons, but what stands is the fact that time has finally caught up with them and their retirement is looming.

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Sport

Baboloki Thebe’s 44 seconds in 50 days

17th May 2021
Baboloki THEBE

The most challenging 50 days in Baboloki Thebe’s extra ordinary career have begun to roll in a countdown motion ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games. Thebe who is seen as heir to Isaac Makwala’s throne in the 400m race is expected to run down the clock and beat 44.9 seconds to book his qualification at the coming Olympic Games.

The indomitable 400m runner has between now and June 29th to achieve this monumental feat. The Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo, Japan from July 23rd to August 8th. There is a looming fear that the promising unconquerable runner might not make it as he has started training at the eleventh hour after spending much time on the side-lines due to social issues and a recurring knee injury.

The struggle to shrug off the rust of injuries and inactivity is believed to have resumed late and by the time the closing date nears, he might leave it too late.The 24 year old runner has since relocated to Ivory Coast to re-establish his old form that gave him a house-hold name both in local and global competitions.

There, the athlete will seek serious races until he finds the one that qualifies him to the tracks of Tokyo. All of these races should be within the IAAF diamond league rules and requirements for him to profusely benefit.

Thebe was conspicuously missing at Poland when Botswana’s famous 4X400M quartet scooped bronze and effectively securing a spot at Tokyo. The team, as usual was captained by Isaac Makwala who knows too well that Thebe has been, and is a significant threat at the world stages.

Before succumbing to injury, Thebe recorded an unimpressive time of 48.85. However, there is still hope for the talented star who left the country under a cloud after he allegedly sneaked out of camp together with one Onkabetse Nkobolo.

It is not highly maintained that the youngster will qualify but it is argued that, at this time of the year, most athletes are still shaking off their yester year rust and Thebe is no exception; he will soon get back to shape. Thebe has admitted that there is a lot of work to be done in the coming few days.

Athletics is a famously lonely sport, sometimes too hard to comprehend. It was the same talent of Thebe who once spoke of his struggles to train away from his families, and often by himself.
One of the most fascinating facets of this discipline is that most athletes stand upon a start line, behind a run up, or in a thrower’s circle alone: for ten or twenty seconds, often times, it is their fate that lies solely in their own hands.

On many occasions now Thebe has trained hard and long to represent a country that should now be laden with both sprinting and long distance runner talent- and to re-write history. Time will tell if the young talent is able to live up to his full potential.

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Sport

Inside incentive package for national teams

12th May 2021
Montsho & Makwala

Amid the heightened public back lash and low lying protests from athletes concerning welfare and unfair treatment at global stages, it comes to light that sport performance in the country can reach greater heights if the incentive package document seen by WeekendSport is anything to go by.

In March of 2012, the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development liaised with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to work out and approve a budget for incentive packages for national team players.

The step was a necessary milestone that aided the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) to erect a long standing policy that dictates the best possible ways of rewarding athletes in various codes.The approved package sees a total of 29 sporting codes listed under 3 categories with different athletes getting varying amounts while on preparatory camps.

In Category 1, the approved package list football and volleyball as the two codes whose preparations can expand over a long period of time. It comes into the open that the monthly allowances per football player is P 1.500 while volleyball players get P 3.500 each. Moreover, all the players under these two codes are entitled to a benefit of a government-funded insurance premium cover of up to P 100 000 in medical expenses.

Furthermore, athletes enjoy death cover of up P 100 000 while a gratuity at 25% of total earnings is payable every four years.Category 2 lists netball, karate, softball, athletics, boxing and rugby. Of these six codes, each athlete receives P2000 for every match appearance.

These athletes also enjoy the same benefits of injury and death cover as codes listed in Category 1.A total of 21 sporting codes are listed in the last category. These include amongst others, chess, badminton, table tennis, motorsport, cricket, squash and swimming. For all these codes, the incentive package states that each player will get P 1.500 per cap. Again, the athletes of these codes retain the same benefits as those in category 1 and 2.

The incentive package document further lists down rewards set aside for athletes performing in regional, continental and world competitions.Individual performers partaking in regional competitions gets P 1 500 if they bring a bronze medal home. P 2000 is for silver medal while athlete is sure of P 2.500 for scooping a gold medal. The same amounts also apply to a group code.

The ante is upped a little high at continental games. The document states that individual athletes bringing home a gold medal will get P 25 000. Furthermore, an athlete winning a silver medal receives P 15 000 while P 10 000 is for a bronze category.

Rewards for performance at the world stage is that an athlete get P 100 000 for scooping a gold medal, P75 000 for silver and P50 000 for bringing a bronze medal home. Furthermore, an athlete is given P 10 000 for finishing within the top 4 places while an added P 5 000 is for those who complete the top 8 category. This is for both individual athletes and group codes.

The document further states in the last paragraph that rewards for setting or breaking competition records is available. If athletes break a regional record, they will be given P 10 000. A continental record set and broken will see an athlete winning P 20 000.

In the Commonwealth stage, a local athlete will be given P 30 000 while P 100 000 is for those who break and set new records both at Olympic Games and World competitions. Coaches are also rewarded and get 10% of what an athlete receives at various competition levels.

However, there are misgivings that the document is static and needs to be revised to match it with today’s standard practice. Calls are overwhelming that rewards must be improved especially for codes-like Athletics- who bring optimum results at global stage.

The document should also clearly state break downs of budget for preparatory competitions and rewards for each stage especially in a group code. When giving clarity, the acting Chief Executive Officer of BNSC, Tuelo Serufho, said that it is necessary to understand the document but is eager to go back to the boardroom and effect changes if need be.

“We must be careful when we compare codes, a lot of emphasis is needed to get to the conclusion of who is performing and is who is failing, but for all purposes of fairness, rewards are meant for everyone and can be triggered,” he said.

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Sport

Task Force assesses BNSC proposal

11th May 2021
Hockey

COVID-19 Task Force is said to be studying the proposition of Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) to re-open sport activities in a phased manner before the end of this month.

The Task Force is said to be operating under immense pressure to build and maintain the equilibrium of sport alongside the impact of corona virus in the country. The team is working behind closed doors following recommendations from BNSC and the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development that the relevant importance of sport together with its socio-economic value in Botswana’s circumstances can no longer be ignored.

This is also propagated by the recent scintillating performance by 4 x400 man national relay team. The quartet led by veteran Isaac Makwala scooped the bronze medal at the World Athletics Championship held in Poland last week. This feat was achieved despite the current lockdown imposed on sport.

Sources say the general recommendation from these sport organs is that sport activities must come back immediately but proper adherence to COVID -19 protocols must also be the number one priority. Furthermore, the sport organizations are believed to have recommended that there must be a phased approach to uplifting the suspension of the games.

Foremost, the Ministry argues that non-contact sports must return in the first phase. This includes among others, long tennis, table tennis, volley ball, athletics and chess. The second stage is to allow contact sport to come back to life where football is largely missed.

It is said the ministry has also attached the matrix involving all 40 sporting codes in the country that all give life to the proposed return to play guidelines. The matrix indicates that all 40 codes need to return to the field as soon as it is safe. Of these 40 codes, 22 of them have an urgent need to return to competition and this includes football.

BNSC argues in their position paper that the level of risk assessed and detected has seen only 10 sporting codes that are not in danger of spreading the virus. These are athletics, badminton, bowling, bridge, golf, motorsport, Paralympics, squash, and traditional sports games.

Football, wrestling, rugby, handball and hockey form part of the codes that act as catalysts in spreading the virus and a proper and strict adherence of protocols is needed.Meanwhile, it is said that football has met with BNSC high ranking officials to present their own case. The football association argues that industry has suffered a lot and there is an urgent need to return.

They say their venue across the value chain in Botswana is about P 55 million, employing approximately 3 000 people directly. About 9 000 jobs are created when the game is up and running, they said.

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