Following its eye brow raising and mediocre performances in the previous seasons, Township Rollers has clearly found it crucial to utilize the drawing board, and make hay while the sun shines. After all, a stich in times saves nine.
The once glorious Popa Popa failed radically to claim what was theirs, the kings of the Botswana Premier League (BPL), and even though they deem it as a storm in a teacup, it is actually a big deal for a football club of its caliber.
The ball is on Popa’s court to do right, and to avoid history repeating itself, it had to look before it leaps. This is why the management of the club has been peddling through elite football clubs, hunting and gathering class of players who will enroll as freshmen in 2023.
Township Rollers is technically the only club that has embarked on the shopping spree for the current transfer window period. This is quite a delicate scenario, as many question if Mapalastina are on a wild goose chase, or perhaps, this cloud will have a silver lining.
Interim Chairman Phempheretlhe Pheto took a calculated risk of shaking the club’s financial power and raked seven new players ahead of the 2023/2024 football season.
Roller’s marquee signing would add the signature of Thabo Rakhale and Tshepo Matete. Rakhale last played as a winger for Sekhukhune United and he is known for his skills and flair on the pitch.
His showboating has received mixed reception, with some seeing it as ‘childish’ or ‘disrespectful.’ Nonetheless, in EA Sports’ FIFA 17 and FIFA 18 video games, he was one of a select few players to have five-star skills.
The latter, Matete, a left winger, is a return player to Rollers. He was previously signed in 2017 around June and at the time, he was from Baroka FC in South Africa. He is joining Rollers from DStv premiership outfit, Chippa United.
Sphamandla Sangweni, former Orlando Pirates and Baroka FC forward has also joined Mapalastina. The 34-year-old joined Pirates from Black Leopards in January 2015, but was twice loaned out, first to All Stars for six months and later Baroka FC.
The other editions to Popa Popa are: Tapiwa Sepatela, Godfrey Taunyatswala, Letlhogonolo Chenjela as well as Omphile Vissage. Rakhale and Sangweni join central midfielder, Shaun Gcumeni as part of the four-member South African contingent at Rollers.
In an interview with WeekendSport this week, Rollers Public Relation Officer, Pako Lebanna, said the acquisition of two South African dribbling wizards (Rakhale and Matete) was for the commercial aspect of the team.
“When we announced the signing of Rakhale, there was so much excitement about that particularly on social media. We believe that the two experienced players have proved to be effective players. They will give us two or more seasons.”
Rollers mouthpiece revealed that the duo has proven to be versatile players as they can slash goals which was the lacking factor from the past season. Apparently, the striker was misfiring.
The marquee signings are a recommendation of the technical department. It includes Motshegetsi Mafa, Sydney Magagane and first Assistant Coach Oarabile Seabo as they have identified areas which needs to be strengthened.
From the seven players which have already been released, they are expecting to part ways with others as discussion are currently on-going. When quizzed how far with the appointment of the new coach, Lebanna said they are anticipating to complete the process within three weeks’ time henceforth the new gaffer to return the team to the glory days will be available before the start of the new season.
According to football commentators, if Rollers remains alive, it will bring football to life since Mapalastina fans know how to create decent football ambience at the stadiums. The signing of Rakhale is whispered to bring the necessary vibe and quality.
“You will have a good number of fans going to the stadiums to see what Rakhale offers and that is the situation we found ourselves in, bringing former PSL stars to BPL to help resurrect our games. A physically and mentally fit Rakhale will help Roller’s win. He will force supporters to attend matches and because of his skill, he will create and score thumping goals. At 33, Popa can make good use of him, even for marketing purposes,” one football observer shared.
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.
“Letsile 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,”
Masisi further said the partnership aligns seamlessly with Orange Botswana’s dedication to acknowledging exceptional individual talent like Tebogo.
“As 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,” he said.
For his part, Tebogo pleaded with Orange Botswana to extend his contract as it is beneficial to him, “I am thankful to Orange Botswana and I hope they could extent my contract as it has been very helpful.”
Meanwhile, Tebogo’s coach, Kebonyemodisa ‘Dose’ 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.
“People 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,” 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.
“Most 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,”
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.
“I 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,” he said.
Rakgare gave special recognition to Oratile Rose Nowe for heroics at the World Champs, “I would like to take this opportunity and congratulate Nowe for attaining a new personal best 2:01.62 in Women’s 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.”
According to Rakgare, Government, recognizes athletes’ achievements at any and every competition, and that is why most recently, they have rewarded them at the Youth and Sport Awards.
“I 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,”
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.
“We have recently accepted a request to the 2023 Africa Netball Cup, however – 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,” 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.
“We are going to host the Independence Cup of which we are expected at least 16 ladies’ teams and a few of male’ 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 coaches’ beginners’ level 1 courses as an effort of improve the standards of the sporting code,” 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.
“We are seeing lots of movement for players from countries like Zimbabwe which is remarkable and that could have happened for our player – but it wasn’t 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,”
Meanwhile, the 2023 Africa Netball Cup is scheduled between November 26 – October 06 2023 at University of Botswana (UB) Indoor Sports Arena.