The BTC Premiership is off to a great start albeit teams are still struggling to knit strings of consecutive wins. But the greatest debate, which has now become precarious, is that the league is dominated by foreign coaches as compared to indigenous gaffers.
The problem is more pronounced in the Top 8 tournament (2015/2016 season log) which was launched this week, and kicks off next month. Only three teams in the top 8 are mentored by locals. David Bright remains the only local to out master the foreign gaffers when his star was still bright at Gaborone United.
British born Mark Harrison; Zimbabwean, Mike Sithole; another Zimbabwean, Madinda Ndlovu; and Argentinean, Rudolph Zapata, are in charge of the first four teams in the league. It is not a new trend but the number of local coaches is now at its lowest since the inception of the league in 1978.
In the Top 8 competition, that begins next month, none of the fixtures will pit teams coached by locals against each other.
BDF XI, nicknamed Matebele, appointed former player, Louis Setshwane as coach early this year – a decision that some pundits say relayed a positive message.
“We thought that Setshwane, having studied and helped previous coaches including Beston Chambesi was the right candidate,’’ BDF XI said through a press release.
Police XI has stuck to locals for a while: “Police XI followers have been calling for a local coach. It was a great opportunity for Letlaamoreng to take up the reins. He is bright and has a good insight about our football. He has done well so far after a difficult start, he is settled and can only get better,” said club chairman, Solomon Mantswe at the time Police XI coach, Maitumelo Junior Letlaamoreng was appointed.
A top 8 fixture that would have featured all-local coaches would have been Mochudi Centre Chiefs Versus Jwaneng Galaxy had the duo promoted their assistant coaches to senior positions when the slots became vacant at the end of last season. As it is, on the top 8 bracket, Madinda Ndlovu of Orapa United will once again battle with Russia Chaba of Miscellaneous. Chaba has masterminded his team’s qualification to the prestigious tournament for the first time since its promotion to the elite league.
In recent history, no local coach has won the premiership title, but the Mascom top 8 tournament has been won by a local born coach, Major David Bright with Gaborone United. He was later sacked after failing dismally in the CAF Confederation stages after been booted out by Super Sport United of South Africa.
Matshidiso Kowa, a former football administrator at BFA – also an inductee in the sports hall of fame – says the lack of faith in home-grown coaches has to change if the country’s football is to progress.
“I think we as clubs have to have more belief in our local coaches,” he said.
“Train them well and then have patience when we give them the hard task of coaching their national clubs, because the coach will know the players, the culture and it can be an advantage. It is hard work, though.”
“Coaches like Bright, Stanley Tshosane, Chico Nare can do very well, even if it is tricky at some point,’’ he said.
Next week, Chaba, Letlaamoreng and Setshwane will be battling to replicate Bright’s success in the top 8 cup. However, they also have a high mountain to climb to end a long mediocre record of the elite league. The top 4 sides that have won cups and tournaments have all done so with foreign coaches. GU, the 2009 league Championship under Mike Sithole is yet to manage a notable success under a local coach and have even sacked a local coach to bring in a foreign one. Both Rollers and Mochudi Centre Chiefs have won league titles inter changeably in the last 5 seasons with foreign coaches. Chico Nare formerly with BMC FC once took the side to top 4 finish and deservingly won coach of the season award. It was a glimmer of hope to local coaches.
However, local coaches are still hoping to alter the status quo but more often than not, are seen to be fighting relegation quagmire at the end of every season.
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.