When Zimbabwean born coach Rahman Gumbo took over the reins at Sua Flamingoes, there was euphoria thick in the air that he will turn around the fortunes of the club and make it a more competitive side.
Gumbo boasts a decorated coaching career, having led three different clubs — Mochudi Center Chiefs, Township Rollers and Gaborone United — to league titles and cup honours here in Botswana. Even more impressive during his time with The Blues is that he led them to the Premier League title and a domestic cup in the same year of 2010.
Expectedly, social media was abuzz as football enthusiasts tried to predict the happier times that await Flamingoes with the former Highlanders FC in charge. However, one person castigated Botswana clubs for their continued trust in foreign coaches and not the local counterparts.
The top four sides in the country — Township Rollers, Gaborone United, Orapa United and Jwaneng Galaxy — (used to) have a foreigners at the helm. This despite, critics argue, the presence of talented local coaches, such as Chico Nare (Morupule Wanderers), Teenage Mpote (Orapa United) and Michael Mogaladi (who has just been appointed at Masitaoka).
The local vs foreign coaches debate is one that has been replicated in the local football fraternity on several occasions. Notably, Gaborone United and Township Rollers, the country’s biggest clubs, have been accused of putting their trust in foreign coaches rather than granting opportunities to local ones.
Critics argue that these foreign coaches are just tourists out to bide their time in the Botswana sunshine before bolting away at the first sight of a better opportunity elsewhere. But GU has quickly realised the issue and are now led by local coaches in Innocent Morapedi and Pontsho Moloi. It is Rollers who are still holding tight to foreigners.
The coach’s seat at Popa and even at Galaxy has become a revolving chair, with a new occupant at the start of every season. Moreover, most of these coaches do not enjoy the same success in their new workstations.
Those who frown upon foreign coaches advance that local tactician can do better if only they are provided with the right resources, including capacity building. And this season alone, it appears that much trust is given to local bred coaches, as 12 clubs in the elite league have employed them.
Furthermore, foreign coaches are discouraged as they are likely to give more playing time to foreign players in their teams as opposed to local ones. However, just like in South Africa, football in Botswana is all about results and foreign coaches seem to churn them out better than their local counterparts. Take Rollers, for example. The club’s success since 2010 has largely been down to foreign coaches, taking their league tally to more than 10 titles.
Under Romain Floz, they have been off to an illustrious start of the second round of the season, winning their first five matches and drawing one.
In Botswana, it is noteworthy that no Motswana coach has ever won the Premier League since Sthandwa Mogwadi won the title with Police in 2007. Around those years, the local coaches were dominant and very much in control. In 2005, the late Banks Panene won the league with Township Rollers in the era of Stan Tshosane and departed Major David Bright.
Looking at this coaches’ debate, it is not lost that indeed football has been impacted by globalisation and the free-market economic policy. It is noteworthy that even a Motswana once led South African sides to considerable success.
Perhaps the proliferation of foreign coaches will challenge local tacticians to up their game and go toe-to-toe with each other. In today’s competition, only four foreigners are up for the challenge and Batswana are by far impressive.
The Botswana national boxing team recently returned from the zone 4 championship held in Mozambique. The team was led by head coach Thebe Setlalekgosi, two assistant coaches, Gibson Rauwe and Pearl Mooketsi. Two referees and judges, Gaseitsewe Ponatshego and Linda Mooketsi.
In the women’s category, Lethabo Modukanele was representing Botswana in the 48 kg division, while Phekie Bele and Sadie Kenosi were competing in the 57 kg and 60 kg categories, respectively. In the men’s category, Kobamelo Molatlhegi was representing the country in the 52 kg division, while Rajab Mahomed was competing in the under 51 kg category.George Molwantwa was competing for under 57 kg category and Treasure Moremi was competing for under 60kg category.
The boxers came home with seven medals, Modukanele came home with a gold medal, Kenosi, Rajab, Molatlhegi all came home with silver medals. While Moremi, Molwantwa and Phekie Bele all came home with bronze medals.
According to Moitshepi Nkabiti, the public relations officer of the Botswana Boxing Association, the team performed well and that they were hoping that Rajab would also bring home a gold medal. However, due to an eye injury, he could not participate in the finals.
He stated that, “though some people might think that how our team performed is not an achievement it is a big achievement to us. Other countries came with 19 boxers while we only came with our seven boxers, and they all came back with medals. That is something that we have to be proud of I really commend them for their performance. Having 5 players making it to the finals is really a blessing and we should not take it for granted.”
According to Nkabiti, Botswana was ranked fourth in the zone 4 championship, which was held in Mozambique. Other countries that participated in the tournament included South Africa, Zambia, Eswatini, and Seychelles. They all had a total of 19 boxers. Lesotho also had eight boxers.
The first Mascom Charity Cup spectacular has come and gone. The football event played at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium saw four football clubs playing one-day tourney with various charity centres being beneficiaries of the gate takings.
While the attendance was not at the expected level, it is said that the sponsor has made a killing with close to P500 000 made from voting lines. Football followers were asked to vote for teams of their choice, and top four clubs were eligible to play. A single sms voting line cost P 1.50.
Gaborone United became the most voted team with 62 984 votes followed by Security Systems with 51 027. On the third spot was BDF XI with 48 596 votes while Orapa United came forth with 44 401. Shockingly, Township Rollers did not make it after gathering a total of 30 637 votes, with BR Highlanders ahead of them having seen 44 204 votes to their name.
It is said, however that, the initiative live to expectation as clubs together with the sponsor have managed to assist charities of their choices. Mascom is believed to be happy for identifying beneficiaries and getting value for their money.
The mobile network company is still the longest standing partners of local football, having first tasted waters in 2005. The company now powers the Top 8 competition and said to have renewed the dame sponsorship at a value not exceeding 18 million. The Mascom Charity Cup was not the first to be hosted by a mobile network company.
In 2018, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) hosted a similar event in which followers had to vote. The four participating teams were Mochudi Center Chiefs, Gaborone United, Orapa United and Township Rollers. GU were the eventual winners.
It is however not clear if the tournament will continue in the next football calendar, but what goes down into the history books is that Teenage Mpote and Orapa United were the first to win it. In previous years, there have been an off season tournament whose aim was meant for charity purposes. The tourney was called Kabelano Charity Cup and was usually played by four big teams (Rollers, Notwane, GU and Chiefs) without taking the voting routes. It was last hosted in 2015 and had Barclays as the sponsors.
Yet another thrilling showdown is expected between the country’s hottest strikers, Thabang Sesinyi of Jwaneng Galaxy and Thataoyaone Kgamanyane of Gaborone United, as the duo are eyeing for the 2021/2022 Golden boot.
With only four Botswana Premier League (BPL) games left, the race for the honours is rolling towards a thrilling climax, but for two individuals there is a race for an accolade of their own taking place that could easily go down to the final minutes of the season. Leading the pack with 19 goals is Jwaneng Galaxy talisman, Sesinyi who is one goal apart from Kgamanyane who has netted 18 goals thus far.
Both players have their eye on the golden boot, hoping that their respective teams have fixtures to put them in with a realistic chance of catching up, or leaving the other behind. The Money Machine is currently at the summit of the BPL log with 61 points while the mining giant, Galaxy are trailing on the third place with 49 points, having played 24 games thus far.
Both teams (GU and Galaxy) are expected to face each other towards the end of the season, as the initial fixture was postponed due to Galaxy’s involvement in CAF championship group stages. With 19 goals chalked up for the season so far, Sesinyi is just one goal away from Kgamanyane who led the race for the better part of the campaign. Sesinyi who is on freakish scoring form has scored four goals in his last two games; a hat trick against Prisons XI and a goal against Sua Flamingoes in the midweek fixture.
But there is no doubt that Sesinyi is no longer playing to carry his team, Galaxy, as realistically there is a slim chance for them to clinch the 2021/2022 season, but he is eyeing the Golden Boot Award when the league falls off.
Kgamanyane has begun the season in tremendous form; scoring every time he is given a chance, while Sesinyi, on the other hand, reached the peak of his form in the second round of the season; scoring both in the domestic league and also on the CAF Champions’ league group stage. He featured on team of the week on February.
Furthermore, the Money Machine attacker showed some growth as his conversion rate has been on a rising graph in the games he has so far played. Although Kgamanyane’s goal scoring prowess has been there for everyone to see, the player has been hampered by injuries. It promises to be a fascinating battle between the duo.
Meanwhile, BPL this week announced that they will hold the 2021/2022 awards. The league has since added seven new categories to take the total number of categories to 16. Among some new categories are the Defender of the Season and Midfielder of the Season awards. There are also two more awards for the administrators, as the league has included Team Manager of the Season and the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Season awards.
The best performing players in this campaign will be included in the Premier League Best XI. Nevertheless, match day officials have also been recognised with the introduction of two more categories in the young Referee of the Season and the Female Referee of the Season. Furthermore, BFL CEO Solomon Ramochotlhwane indicated that the awards will be held on the 25 June 2022, just after the 2021-2022 season comes to an end.