A song for one of the most successful captains in the country
It is the afternoon of one of the weekends of November and Week 11 of 2006/07 Mascom Premier League is in full swing. In the 83rd minute of this classic fixture between Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Township Rollers, Chiefs winger Pontsho Moloi performs wizardry that would determine the result of the game and embody the spirit of the revolutionary Kgatleng side and would transform local football.
‘Piro’ received a pass from Elijah Montsho on the right flank, drove towards Rollers left back Lolo Mosojane. The veteran Rollers defender was left on the ground while Moloi now faced central defender Barry Hangunyu who is also left eating grass while the winger put the ball past hapless Rollers goalkeeper Lesego Moeng. Chiefs go on to win the game by 2-1.
Since that encounter a lot was said of Moloi. Magosi supporters composed a song; Kgalema Lenyatso Piro, the chanting of the song was memorable and this was because in a way, Moloi had ended Rollers’s reign. He had helped Magosi bring down long time rivals in the game. Piro, like other football greats such as David Beckham, in a similar manner displayed a wizardry trademark which football lovers would tag the ‘PM turn’. It was at this moment that the black and white side resurged, with Moloi as the conductor.
Through his incredible footwork and thinking, Moloi was a modern winger who could attack with venom slicing defenders, scoring goals and creating assists causing his teammates to bring out their best for the team. “He was one of the skillful wingers that would keep you in your toes for the entire game and if you were to face him you had to be ready both physically and mentally,” ex Rollers and national team defender Seabo “Seabee” Gabanakgosi said.
Pontsho “Piro, Master-Twitter” Moloi was born on the 28th of November 1981 in Gaborone at the notorious location of extension 27. He started his football at a development team called Masa-Masa at Primary level. He then left to Young Strikers in the Junior category where he won the Chappies little league, before joining Notwane in 1999 where he was promoted to the senior team two years later at the age of 19. In 2006, after seven years with the player, Notwane lost one of their prized assets to Chiefs, and the disbelief was that he was signed for free; this move became a talk of the town for the better part of the transfer window more so it was the biggest move in the local football scene by then.
“That was so emotional because that’s where I cut my first teeth and it (Notwane) exposed me to a lot of things,” Moloi said, “but I had to move on and look for better pastures and Chiefs offered me that.”
In 2010 Moloi was signed by South African side Bay United for a season, and again before leaving Notwane he enjoyed some short stint at Cyprus. In his illustrious football career, Moloi featured in all the national development sides and also became part of the historic 2012 AFCON qualifying squad.
When he left Notwane, part of the debate was his attitude towards the game. Piro was accused of indiscipline in the field of play but ever since joining Chiefs he has been a different player.
“I was still a youngster by then, but as you grow you notice that at some point you were wrong,” PM 7, as the player was fondly called said.
One of the games that would always remain in many people’s memory was the 2005/06 season encounter between Notwane and Naughty Boys, when Piro received marching orders after he overreacted following his younger brother Dirang being given a red-card. However at Chiefs he found the likes of the then captain Noah “Stooge” Kareng who molded him.
Nowadays Pontsho is a true role model.
“I have always looked up to him and I am so excited to be with him on the same team, he is always there to give me some advices,” Chiefs wonder-kid, Ayanda Molefe could say about the legendary captain.
Chiefs under the armband of Moloi bagged five league titles and one FA cup honours which had previously eluded the club.
“His contribution was immeasurable, he helped us win the league and FA cup, you must remember that these trophies have eluded us but in the presence of him we defied the odds,” chiefs spokesperson Clifford Mogomotsi told Weekendsport.
Piro’s first achievement was winning the golden boot in his maiden season after scoring 22 goals before helping Magosi win their first ever league honour in 2007/08 in undefeated fashion, again in the same season, he helped the team win the FA cup. The following season they finished second best after GU narrowly beat them to win the trophy in photo-finish style.
Other titles were in 2011/12, 2012/13, 2014/15 and the just ended 2015/16 season.
“Piro is one of the boys that grew before me and we went through a lot. I remember one day I substituted him in less than 10 minutes in Lobatse, he cried such that after the game he told his mother how I didn’t treat him well but I explained to the mother that I wanted the best out of the boy, so when I look back and see where we are now and look at his achievements as well, I can only smile,” former Notwane captain Fabian Zulu remembered.
Moloi has been a true legend for football not only for Chiefs. “It has been a long journey and with the support from the Chiefs family I have been able to reach my destiny,” Moloi said after the game against Galaxy with the famous Kgalema Lenyatso Piro hit on the background.
“We will meet as the board and see how best to assist him either as team manager or one of the administration portfolios,” Mogomotsi said.
Ever since joining the Kgatleng side, a decade ago Chiefs has been the most consistent team in the league and putting the then dominant Gaborone sides; Rollers and GU under pressure. The song Kgalema Lenyatso Piro will long live, he instilled discipline to both teams and ensured that Magosi got the respect only befitting kings.
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.