Multitudes of hungry local volleyball enthusiasts are expected to throng various courts and halls starting this weekend to witness the start of the Mascom Volleyball league. Volleyball enthusiasts have endured a long break since last year November.
The Mascom Volleyball league is expected to come back to live amid mouthwatering clashes lined up for the opening round of the league.
Although it appeared it was quite obvious that Mascom will return to Volleyball, it was not as smooth sailing as one would have thought after the Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) official had made it clear that they wanted an ‘improved’ deal.
This forced the two parties to engage in a series of meetings to find a common ground until they adopted a model similar to the one used in the football premier league and softball; the top four teams in the log will have their own tournament at the end of the season.
With all those now put to bed, it is the time for palms to hit the spikes and cheering to be heard all over the courts as the teams battle for championship supremacy.
The league opening weekend will have some category A games that the sports fanatics will not dare miss. Despite exciting games scattered all over the country, all roads are expected to lead to Molepolole IHS where titanic clashes will be hosted in both categories.
For the ladies, last season’s runner ups, Mafolofolo will battle it out with the third placed Kalavango in a game that is expected to produce fireworks as it could as early as the first game determine the possible league winners who will potentially dethrone Kutlwano.
Last year the two teams were in a bitter see-saw battle which was ultimately won by Mafolofolo who went on to finish in second position. The weekend game renews rivalry between the sides and could present a platform for the bruised Kalavango to settle scores. All the national team players for both teams who are currently on camp are expected to be present, hence there will not be any excuse from either side.
Another mouthwatering clash will be witnessed on the men’s side when rivals BDF VI and Kutlwano lock horns. Last season BDF VI was a shadow of itself and the time is now for them to plot a comeback. The soldier dominated side used to be a force to reckon in the volleyball fraternity.
On the other hand Kutlwano will be aiming to start the season on a high in a bid to defend their title. Should they win against their fierce rivals, it will be a motivation enough to push them to their destiny. Another interesting game will be between Police VI, who finished as runner ups last year, against tricky Mahalapye side, Mag Stimela.
Teams have expressed delight at the commencement of the league.
Monica Alfred, Kalavango captain said they want to improve on their last season position. ‘’For now we want to do better than last season. We want to improve on our standings, especially pole position or second best if we fail to occupy number one, we don’t have any new players because we have both experience and youth who can help us achieve our mandate.’’
On the other hand Kutlwano are also aiming to defend the league, ‘’our main mission is to defend the league. Beating BDF VI will put us at an advantage,’’ Shadrack Kapeko, captain for Kutlwano said.
The sponsorship upgrade by Mascom should vitalise this season. At the end of the season, the top four teams will battle it out in their own tournament. The aim is to ‘’stimulate competition and end the monopoly of some teams especially those in Gaborone.’’ However, the sponsorship is said to have remained steady but efforts to understand the contractual agreement of the two parties were still a closely guarded secret at a time of going to print.
According to the mouthpiece of the federation, Mission Mereyotlhe, they will try to maintain the standards of last season and they will host chunk of their games indoors. ‘’But the negotiations are still ongoing to use the BNYC hall.’’
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.