The rift between Township Rollers’ most influential minds and main shareholders, Somerset Gobuiwang and Jagdish Shah is further exacerbating. It appears the two are not ready to let sleeping dogs lie, as they could not agree to a conciliatory meeting this past Monday, WeekendSport has established.
According to reputable sources of this publication, the duo was scheduled to meet, as a desperate attempt of sharing the peace pipe. Botswana Football Association (BFA) president Tebogo Sebego was to engage as a mediator.
The turnout of events has downplayed the long standing issue of the Society where an executive committee is to be elected to run the club’s affairs on the 3rd of October which many thought was the main headache. The irreconcilable differences and friction witnessed at the top, is the issue weighing heavily on the team.
Those close to developments cite that Gobuiwang-who still prefers silence on this matter-, now wants Shah to apologise for publicly dragging his name and that of the team into disrepute. Shah recently, in a tell- all interview with a local radio station revealed that he is not willing to work with Gobuiwang.
It is no longer a secret that the two have over some time now been growing further apart. Although well-wishers have time and again defended this ‘dangerous attraction’, saying “they have a water tight agreement,” time now becomes the worst enemy following the refusal by both parties to come again to the negotiating table.
Information gleaned from multiple of Rollers sources sketch a portrait of two ‘money making’ individuals baying for each other’s blood. It further arises that the football ideologies of these two powerful men are as different as chalk and cheese while failure to reach a compromise is seen as the catalyst eating away at attempts of peace making.
Those in both men’s cycle say Somerset wants the team to identify good players, sign them and later export them to better leagues- a practice he has been doing for the better part of his stay at the Gaborone west based giants. All the while, Jagdish reportedly wants nothing to do with such practice as his sights are set more on team building. It is further said that Shah wants Gobuiwang to invest more in the team; as such responsibility is equally his.
While many are predicting the club’s dizzying fall from grace, Gobuiwang in particular is said to be keeping a low profile. He is believed to be resolute in his insistency that Rollers family give him the reigns of the club.
It all started with a letter bearing the signature of club General Secretary, Khumoyame Masonya sent to BFA that read: “this serves to notice the Association that the society (Township Rollers Football Club) in its general meetings for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008 resolved to transfer its status to Township Holdings.
Botswana Football Association is therefore advised that all activities relating to Township Rollers Football Club shall be under the management and total control of the company whose Managing Director is Somerset Gobuiwang.”
The resolution was that on 25th August of 2007 at Ledumang Senior School, the Executive Committee of the team directed to implement the decision adopted in 2006 that the club should be changed from a society into a Private Company. WeekendSport further learnt that the Society ‘s Annual General Meeting held on the 17 August 2008 reiterated the authority given to Somerset Gobuiwang to form a private company that will run the affairs of the club.
The membership resolution was that Gobuiwang should keep 51% of the shares in the private company and the remaining 49% be made available for purchase by general members. It is also revealed that the company is registered in terms of the companies act under No CO.2005/6813. The shares were floated.
However, all changed upon the arrival of Jagdish Shah who Gobuiwang later agreed to give some of his shares. The society also agreed to give the Indian born business magnate some of their shares. Consequently both Gobuiwang and Shah ended with 40% each while the remaining 10% became the society’s stake.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership finds itself caught between a rock and a hard place owing to the ever burning issue of mischievous spending at operational level.
While the association coffers have suddenly dried up, with some staff members getting the boot, the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development has threatened to place the Maclean Letshwiti led association under strict funding for unspecified period of time.
WeekendSport learns that the sport ministry is not happy about the financial status of the association and will want to act before everything get messy.
At the close of last year, the Ministry had to intervene for the Women National Football Team to travel to Ethiopia as BFA had no penny to cover for the travelling costs.
As if that was not enough, the BFA December wages were covered from the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) purse, an abnormality that BFA is at pains to explain.
All these incidents, however, coincide with a time when the Sport ministry is putting in place a new revised modeling for funding. The model requests national sports associations to explain in details the why they will need funding for their calendar of events.
Moreover, the Ministry is eager to prioritize funding basing on the performance of the sport code on a yearly basis.
“Things have changed, we are not going to splash money like we used to do, and we want a code to explain fully how they are going to spend the money,” a source shared.
Moreover, we will be funding looking at the overall performance of the code, we are not going to fund just because it is football and it is loved by many people.”
At worst, the ministry will want the association to account and should BFA fail to balance their books, the National Executive Committee(NEC) is likely to be dissolved by the ministry.
Sources further state that the Ministry’s patience has actually wilted away concerning codes that abuse funds. In the case of BFA, sources point out that they are likely to get half subvention until everything goes back to normalcy.
On a good year, BFA subvention reaches P 5.4million annually. Should the ministry persists, BFA will start operations of the year on a budget of about P 2.7 million. It will not be for the first time the association finds itself bearing the brunt.
Sometimes in 2018 when Tshekedi Khama was the Minister, the association’s subvention were cut down to pay an old standing debt that amounted to P3 million.
However, high ranking officials at the association believe funds can still be accounted for and refuses to accept that they have been reckless when it comes to spending. The official who does not want be named is of the view that the association had to halt FIFA projects and concentrate on incidental expenses brought by COVID -19.
According to BFA expenditure, the CEO gets the higher chunk and that’s where most of the money went. A national trip to South Africa by senior national team has also seen the association spending close to a million.
Moreover, the communication department of the association is bleeding more money after a certain PR agency was appointed nearly two years ago.
Township Rollers first ever Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bennett Mamelodi has reportedly turned down an offer from Botswana Football Association (BFA) to take over the reins at the association as the new CEO.
This comes to the fore following the ‘always expected’ suspension of Goabaone Taylor in December 2021, on account of internal investigations relating to the misappropriation of funds that transpired before her eyes.
Sources speaking to this publication indicate that Taylor will eventually vacate her position, barely eight months after her historic appointment as the first ever lady to lead the often stubborn BFA secretariat.
Masterminds behind her appointment and eventual fall from grace wanted to therefore give Mamelodi an opportunity to assume the role, but the soft spoken administrator is reported to have chickened out, opting to stay put at Township Rollers.
It is not yet known why an ambitious man like Mamelodi’s feet will turn cold over a job that commands respect across football circles.
However, it is reported that the once rejected Mfolo Mfolo will have a second bite on the cherry after BFA president MacLean Letshwiti confided to his close allies that he was misled at a time when Mfolo was sacked.
The equally soft spoken Mfolo, who too has footprints at Township Rollers was fired just after the October 2020 elections for allegedly failing to take charge when the national under 17 was disqualified from the COSAFA tournament after failing the MRI test.
All the while, reports indicate that Mamelodi is eyeing the Botswana Football League (BFL) post where he made his name, but close sources continue to deny that the brother to Ashford Mamelodi will want to go back to Lekidi Football Centre given the manner in which his dismissal was handled about six years ago.
At the time of going to print, he could not be reached for comment.
As things stand, Mamelodi has been appointed as the project manager of BFL while holding the fort at Rollers. He is anticipated to provide insight on how the league can source sponsors for itself and run smoothly without struggles. He is also expected to erect a working structure for the BFL.
Mamelodi has previously worked with Jwaneng Galaxy as well as interim spells with Orapa United to help both clubs turn professional. He is said to be in love with what he does at Popa and it is why he is no longer intrigued by BFA political positions.
However, sources mention that Mamelodi will be tried once again but are skeptical that the man will agree to the deal even if it is mouthwatering.
Township Rollers veterans, who are reaching the end of their careers are hoping to part on high note, but the club has had a slow start to the season, playing second fiddle to its city rivals, Gaborone United. The Reds has won the first edition of FA Cup since 2012 — now under the sponsorship of network giants, Orange — to send a memo to league rivals that this season is not business as usual.
Rollers has responded in controversial fashion, firing coach Hassan Oktay after suffering the ignominy of being knocked out by top flight football rockies, Masitiaoka. The Blues have since appointed Frenchman Romain Folz to turn the club’s pot of gold into silverware, an attempt that his predecessor, Oktay has failed early into the season. After clinching players with vast experience, the expectation is still enormous at Popa that all available cups including the league title should find space in their trophy cabinet.
Also, the club would want to traverse a torrid passage of CAF champion’s league, reaching group stages, once more. It is in this regard that Ofentse Nato is hoping for his own great leap forward in effort to end his injury nightmare. The no nonsense defensive midfielder has only featured once for the team this year owing to unspecified injuries. This is the first time, in his football carrier that Nato misses the first five opening games of the season.
His absence could have left Rollers struggling. But he too, could struggle to return to his former self, missing the opportunity to drive Rollers back to glory days, alongside the rest of a gilded trio of the club; Maano Ditshupo, Simisane Mathumo and of course Motsholetsi Sikele. But 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 tomorrow that will never come.
As part of the multi-million project of Jagdish Shah, the players were recruited to embody the present and future of the club. But all of them are on the wrong side of 30. Maano is 36, Nato is 32, Mathumo is 30 while Sikele is 30. Both Ditshupo and Mathumo are exchanging the armband while Sikele has almost lost his starting berth to youngsters. Nato is also slowing down and it appears he has seen his better days.
The talent of the big four should make the case for Rollers to finally make headline impact, particularly in the league and FA cup starting in January next year. Rollers coaches agree that as a unit they could find an edge and this band of serial winners glimpse glory. The sense all could awaken for the business end is enhanced by their respective pedigrees. All the four know the pleasure of taking Rollers to glory days, they also understand the pain of failing with the club.
Ditshupo in particular, has been the most consistent player of all in Rollers squad; it betrays logic why he was never called to represent the country. In the first five games of the season, Rollers have been nothing but a luke warm club. They have emitted mixed reactions. They started well, clobbering Lobatse Outfit, Extension Gunners by 2-0. Against premier league rookies, Masitaoka, they huffed and puffed, but the absence of midfielder Ditshupo was conspicuously seen as they were knocked out of the tournament.
However, the quartet returned to the lineup for the first time as a unit against Notwane in a midweek fixture. Rollers were not convincing despite winning 1-0 to return to the summit. Judging by their performance and age, the quartert might not play Rollers ball again next season as premier league retirement looms.