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Ramatlhakwane/Mongala/Moloi debacle; harsh lessons learnt

The much talked about, highly publicised mega bucks move of Jerome ‘JJ’ Ramatlhakwane, Phenyo ‘Mzambia’ Mongala and Dirang ‘Malam’ Moloi to the DRC has turned out to be more trouble than the bliss that was touted. When the deal was announced, there was so much fanfare as the hands that were pulling the strings justified everything about the deal. The deal has turned out to be a nightmare, especially for the players.  

As is always the case when players are exported, everything is very secretive. Up to now, except maybe for a few souls in the inner circle at Mochudi Centre Chiefs, know much about the players’ move, how much the players were sold for and who benefitted from the deal. There are so many speculations and some names have been mentioned as having let the players out to the dogs.

There have been some accusations levelled against some administrators that they were only interested in lining their pockets at the expense of the players’ best interests, thus the hurried sale of the players without much scrutiny. I for one, feel that the players were sold a dummy. It seems like they were made to believe that everything will be blissful and not told about the harsh conditions that awaited them. As it is, they were not ready for what they arrived to. The 3 players were in for a shock and their football careers have since stalled, costing them valuable playing time and their places in the National team. Their careers have been stop-start since the move, the worst hit being the talented Dirang Moloi.

Personally, I raised concerns when I first heard that the trio had signed 5 year contracts. I wondered why the players would sign 5 year contracts in uncharted territory like the DRC. The DRC is not like South Africa, where we have sold many players before; and it would have been advisable for the players to sign shorter 2 year contracts so as to test the waters. As with everything about the deal, these concerns were dismissed by those who were pulling the strings.

The players were promised heaven and there was the added lure of possible moves to TP Mazembe and eventually Europe. At the time, everything looked rosy. The trouble started just a few weeks after the players moved to the Democratic Republic of Congo. We started hearing reports that the players were not happy that they had been sold a dummy. But who is to blame for that? Don Bosco? Centre Chiefs? The administrators? The players?

Your guess is good as mine. Where we are right now; it doesn’t make much sense to play the blame game; but we can only learn from this rather unfortunate debacle and do things better in future. We need not have another similar case as our talent has suffered a great deal and players that could be playing and performing for the national team are left twitching their fingers on the side lines.

However harsh, some lessons have been learnt, especially for the players. I’m hopeful that other players will learn from this rather unfortunate saga and be more careful when entering into contracts. They need to have the right people negotiating on their behalf instead of ‘jackals’ who just want to seal the deal at all costs, in the shortest possible  time, just to get their share of the deal. They need to do through research on wherever they are being sold off to, to find out about the living conditions there. One cannot perform on the field of play if they live in unfavourable conditions.  The players need to get the necessary advise from legal experts and get closer to the Football Players Union for legal advice before signing contracts.  

For the players themselves, it’s no use claiming ignorance of some clauses in the contracts when they have already signed. It’s rather sad that ‘some administrators’ will put their interests ahead of the players’ interests and its imperative that players look out for themselves and scrutinise deals that they get into, lest they get burned. One can only hope that this debacle is resolved soon and we see the trio in action. 

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Rollers make digital strides

11th June 2021

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.

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GU finally snatches Ditsele

3rd June 2021
Lebogang Ditsele

Hard tackling midfielder, Lebogang Ditsele has completed a move from Botswana Premier League (BPL) champions, Jwaneng Galaxy, to Gaborone United in a reported lucrative two-year deal, WeekendSport can confirm.

The Reds have finally made their move for their long-time target and the enterprising midfielder is said to be happy to have completed the transfer after a heavy fall out with Galaxy management.

He wants to play football that pays, something which Galaxy cannot offer and the allure of GU was certainly too much for Ditsele to turn a blind eye.

The team as led and directed by construction magnate, Nicholas Zakhem- who is reported to have given ‘CCTV’ a mouth-watering P30 000 per month plus winning bonuses contract in demonstration of their seriousness to win silverware.

Sometime in March, the industrious player gave Galaxy an ultimatum-to either improve his contract benefits or let him go-after a decision was taken to offer the whole team pay cuts amid the devastating effects of the corona virus pandemic.

Galaxy had arrived at a conclusion of giving each player P 3000 until a time football returns to the field with moneyed sponsorships.

“We are proud to have signed him because he will add quality to our squad once football returns. Always a quality player and like him and he is now available, you don’t say there is no football, you tie him down before other clubs beat you to his signature,” said club Director, Nicholas Zakhem.

It is believed that Ditsele has always recognized GU as one of the country’s leading clubs, capable of competing for the grandest prizes. Ditsele was at Gilport Lions before he was snatched up by Galaxy and now GU.  His moves come as no surprise as his dream has always been to play for high paying clubs.

No doubt, Ditsele has enjoyed his years at Galaxy, where he is feted by the supporters, but the lad has always felt that the time is right to move on. Ditsele leaves having a year left on his contract.

It is impossible to dispute the value and service that he has given to the club, with the last season being his best, winning the premiership title.

Once Galaxy has sent him to overseas club at Highlands Park but returned home after a short stint.

However, the fan favourite, who has had an on and off relationship with the national team, The Zebras, was never going to be held by the terms of his contract.

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No injury problems for Amos

2nd June 2021
Nijel Amos

Despite encountering an injury scare ahead of the IAAF Diamond League circuit this week, Nijel Amos’ Olympic dream is still on track and he remains ever capable to stun the world by replicating his famous feat at the 2012 Olympic Games.

This was confirmed by his coaches and doctors after the Botswana star suffered a minor calf injury that forced him out of the weekend race. The multiple conqueror of 800m races is expected back on the track on June 9th to shake off this injury scare and face the possibilities of winning another Olympic medal. This likelihood only has one month to go!

Amos remains the only Motswana athlete to ever win a medal at the Olympic Games, a rare but magnificent accomplishment that still lingers in the memory of Botswana sport fraternity. At the time, he was only 18 years and strange enough, that silver medal felt like Gold for many.

His anticipated presence at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is on course to renew the long standing rivalry between him and the Kenyan 800m world record holder, David Rudisha. This is the same Kenyan competitor who won Gold when Botswana’s Amos came second in a race that would become the toast of the competitions at the London Olympics.

However, two years later, at 2014 Commonwealth Games, Amos dethroned Rudisha in another breath-taking race that confirmed and sparked the ongoing thrilling competitiveness — filled with pleasure, pain and sporting hatred- between the two.

When Amos was beaten in London, he never cared who won the race but was ecstatic to have finished at the podium, writing his name into Olympic Game folklore.

But in Glasgow, for Rudisha, defeat seemed not to have diminished his hopes. After the finish, when the lacerations were sharpest and the wound deepest, Rudisha was pictured hugging Nijel Amos, and congratulating him for a job well done.

Then, Amos was just 20 years, oozing with confidence. The shy looking Rudisha wrapped a Kenyan flag around his back and went on a lap of honour to celebrate his silver medal.

If there was disappointment Rudisha masked it with the skill of an actor. He smiled and waved as he received a standing ovation. “Amos is a tough competitor and he was very good,” Rudisha once admitted, stating matters of sporting facts that would follow between the two runners. Win. Lose. Win. Lose.

But then, there have been echoes of a swollen Muhammad Ali after his defeat to Joe Frazier, winking at the hundreds of fans who had converged at his hotel, determined to show light on his darkest day. The bruises on that day were to Rudisha’s record, not his face. Like Ali, he promised to be back.

But that night was about Amos. A callow 18-year-old who finished second to Rudisha at London 2012 sharpened his confidence, hardened by beating his idol twice on the Diamond League circuit, grew with each passing year.

However, both athletes began to suffer sporting injuries of their own, they lost the edge they were well-known for and it is why at the 2016 Olympic Games, the bookmakers were upset when they could not meet at the final. It was Amos who faltered in the heats and although Rudisha became the first Kenyan to retain an Olympic title, it was not as scintillating as it was in 2012.

Now with a month to go, Amos is living in prayer, hoping he stays free from injuries. He is looking forward to become the star again. He has won everything at the diamond league and broke every national record, but his eyes are still fixed on the ultimate prize- the Gold medal at the international stage, with or without David Rudisha.

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