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 clubs 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 champions 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.
Local sprinter, Letsile Tebogo has been rewarded with a whopping P150 000.00 by Orange Botswana for his heroics at the recently held World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Speaking at a Handover Ceremony for Tebogo, Orange Botswana Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Maano Masisi said, Orange Botswana is steadfast in their commitment to nurturing the youth and promoting sports in diverse ways.
âLetsile stands as a formidable force and an inspiration to young Batswana, showcasing the value of sports not only in Botswana but on an international stage through his remarkable achievements. Orange Botswana, furthermore, desires to cultivate enduring relationships with aspiring young Batswana, much like Letsile, who embody dedication, focus, and excellence in their endeavors. Letsile has already shattered records, etching new milestones for the African continent and beyond,â
Masisi further said the partnership aligns seamlessly with Orange Botswanaâs dedication to acknowledging exceptional individual talent like Tebogo.
âAs previously announced when we started this relationship, our collaboration with yourself entails financial support from Orange Botswana to fuel your journey in competitive sports, alongside your representation as the face of Orange Botswana,â he said.
For his part, Tebogo pleaded with Orange Botswana to extend his contract as it is beneficial to him, âI am thankful to Orange Botswana and I hope they could extent my contract as it has been very helpful.â
Meanwhile, Tebogoâs coach, Kebonyemodisa âDoseâ Mosimanyana was also showered with P10 000.00 for always ensuring that Tebogo is ready to take on the world.
Local athletes, Zibane Ngozi and Letsile Tebogo have confronted Minister of Youth, Gender and Culture, Tumiso Rakgare citing lack of support during preparations.
Speaking at the World Champs team Welcome Ceremony on Wednesday, the 4 x 400m relay specialist and Team Captain, Ngozi urged some of the government officials inclusive of Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) representative, Rakgare to attend these high-profile competitions to witness the hardships they go through during these competitions.
âPeople need to understand it is not easy for us when we arrive at the World stage, there is a lot that is going on hence we need support in order for us to succeed as expected.
However, I am happy that immediately when I arrived in Botswana, BNSC credited our allowances which was a good thing because we had lots of debts (jokingly) thus we manage to settle them,â he said.
On the other hand, Tebogo who brought home two medals (silver and bronze) from 100m and 200m respectively at the World Champs said most athletes are going through depression due unfavorable conditions.
âMost of us going through depression because we lack support during preparations, we are only celebrated when we win but in hard times we are forgotten. Athletics is a difficult sport hence we need all the support we could to make it through and eventually amass medals as it is expected by our country,â
For his part, Rakgare admitted that local sport is faced with challenges, including but not limited to a tough sponsorship environment, limited or no sport in public schools, doping and leadership instability.
âI would of course be surprised if anyone of you would not agree with me that notwithstanding the challenges, we continue to achieve unprecedented results in sport, and the year to date is no exception,â he said.
Rakgare gave special recognition to Oratile Rose Nowe for heroics at the World Champs, âI would like to take this opportunity and congratulate Nowe for attaining a new personal best 2:01.62 in Womenâs 800m, which also happens to be a national record. By the way, Oratile is the first Motswana woman to ever qualify for the World Championships in middle distance running.â
According to Rakgare, Government, recognizes athletesâ achievements at any and every competition, and that is why most recently, they have rewarded them at the Youth and Sport Awards.
âI would like to thank the Government of Botswana for their investment in sport. We continue to pride ourselves in being one of the best funders of sport per capita, and as indicated earlier, we are not intending to slow down anytime soon,â
On a lighter note, World Champs BW Team was rewarded by various companies such as Debswana, Choppies, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) and also government as a token of appreciation for participating in Hungary.
Tebogo was rewarded with P560 000 from Debswana, Choppies and BPC for bringing two medals home, 4 x 400m men relay finalists (Ngozi, Baboloki Thebe, Laone Ditshetelo and Leungo were given P25 000 apiece for reaching the finals and participating by Debswana; while ladies (Tlhomphang Basele, Golekanye Chikani, Lydia Jele, Oratile Nowe, Galefele Moroko, Obakeng Kamberuka were given P10 000 each for participation.
In addition, the World Champs team amassed P926 000.00 of which P250 000 would go to Tebogo and the remaining P676 000 will be shared amongst the rest of the team.
With several local associations currently going through a rough patch in terms of financial quagmires, Botswana Netball Association (BONA) Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mokeresete Mokeresete is optimistic to host the 2023 Africa Netball Cup as per the request from African Netball Board (Executive Committee) because Uganda has pulled out.
Will it be successful or finally quench the thirst of competing internationally?
The African Netball Championships or Africa Netball Cup are a netball competition held every after two years with teams from across Africa competing for the top price.
BONA National team competed in the last edition of the Africa Netball Cup which was held in 2021 in Namibia and they finished in position seven which was average.
Last time BONA hosted an event of this magnitude was the 2017 Netball Youth World Cup which was indeed a success even though the local team (Dinaletsana) finished in position 10.
One would have thought that the Dinaletsana team which looked promising would eventually go on and conquer the world in the following international competitions. However, that has not been the case as they struggled to qualify for the recent World Cup which was held in the neighboring South Africa.
In addition, the Botswana Netball League was last played in November 2022 and in 2023 they hosted a Fast Five Netball Cup just before the Netball World Cup.
In an interview with WeekendSport this week, BONA Public Relations Officer (PRO) said they have accepted to host the 2023 Africa Netball Cup following the pulling out of Uganda.
âWe have recently accepted a request to the 2023 Africa Netball Cup, however â we are still working on finalizing all the logistics that will be in play as you are aware that hosting an event requires a budget which might be difficult because we were given a smaller potion in the recent financial year.
Furthermore, we are yet to come up with a consolidated budget which could help us map a way forward as we really want to stage this particular competition. It is vital for us to host this competition as we want to revitalize local netball, we want to attract more for the league,â said Mokeresete Mokeresete.
MORE NETBALL ACTION AHEAD?
Mokeresete further hinted that the upcoming Independence Cup will be preparatory tournament for the upcoming Africa Netball Cup.
âWe are going to host the Independence Cup of which we are expected at least 16 ladiesâ teams and a few of maleâ teams as we are still swiftly introducing the male section to the sport in Orapa.
However, prior to the action we are going conduct courses for match officials, technical official and coachesâ beginnersâ level 1 courses as an effort of improve the standards of the sporting code,â hinted Mokeresete.
MISSING THE RECENT NETBALL WORLD CUP WAS CATASTROPHIC
According to BONA PRO, missing the recent Netball World Cup was catastrophic as players missed out on an opportunity to showcase their talents on the world stage which was bound to garner those deals to more professional countries in terms of Netball.
âWe are seeing lots of movement for players from countries like Zimbabwe which is remarkable and that could have happened for our player â but it wasnât to be as we did not qualify for the main event.
Moreover, through the World Cup Legacy Program, we have been awarded a sprung board and we are contention to transport it from South Africa to the country as one of the requirements to host a sporting event is to have a sprung floor,â
Meanwhile, the 2023 Africa Netball Cup is scheduled between November 26 â October 06 2023 at University of Botswana (UB) Indoor Sports Arena.