From talking soccer to managing players
Behind the success of many footballers, there is an agent, pulling strings for players to secure the best deals.
29- year -old Bakang Moipone is the youngest football player agent in Botswana. He started when he was 26 years of age and so far he has managed to eliminate issues of players registering with two clubs at the same time and teams failing to pay such players.
It all started as a hobby for Moipone who then went on to register his company, Extreme Sports, which currently manages 25 players’ and two coaches’ contracts.
Four years later, Moipone is not only an intermediary for local players but also for two players from Kenya, Musa Mahummad and Duncan Otieno who play for Lusaka Dynamos FC.
Recently, he sealed a two-year deal for the Zebras midfield, Mothusi Cooper with Lusaka Dynamos.
The Palapye born young agent was also behind the move of Mosha Gaolaolwe, Ezekiel Morake, and Thero Setsile who played for the South African side, TS Galaxy.
Apart from being an agent, Moipone is also a Sports Analyst for national television, BTV, and Radio Botswana.
Our reporter Portia Mlilo had a chat with this ambitious man about his career and future plans for the players under his stable.
When did you develop an interest in being an agent?
It was after I met coach Chico Nare at one of his matches.
He used to assist me to improve my game analysis and it came to a point where we started to relate more like family.
There was a story about Mosha Gaolaolwe’s move from BDF XI to Rollers and Nare was criticized for being both a coach and an agent at the same time because he facilitated that move.
He introduced me to this business in 2017 and took me through the necessary steps.
One of the people I would like to acknowledge is Jwaneng Galaxy Chairman, Njabulo Gilika who gave me a chance as a newcomer and signed seven of my players.
I remember at first he was dismissive and laughed at me asking what it was that I knew about players’ management because I was young but I did not disappoint.
What are the requirements for one to be FIFA accredited agent?
At first, I was not registered and I inquired at BFA when the statute changed from being an agent to the intermediary.
They assisted me and I filled an application form and I made the cut.
I pay P1 500 annually to renew the license.
How do you recruit players to join your stable?
First of all, I look at the player’s potential and quality.
Then I approach him to offer my services and if he does not have an agent, I sign him.
If we agree, we sign a contract and I handle his football deals locally and abroad negotiating on his behalf.
You mentioned that when you started, you were not registered how did you breakthrough through this business?
It was difficult because I was an amateur and players did not know me.
I think working at BTV has helped because some saw me on the screen analysing games.
I remember when I approached Lesego Galenamothale, he had won many awards and he asked me what I know about football.
I had to do a lot of work to convince him until I negotiated his move from Mochudi Centre Chiefs to Orapa United.
He was the big fish and many teams wanted him.
I did it right!
That was when players came knocking asking him who was representing him and he referred them to me.
How do you find potential employers for the players?
I do market research, identify a need for that club then check what I have in my stable.
Remember negotiations start when a player’s contract is left with six months.
You start with the player’s current club, ask if they are interested in extending the contract.
You also consider the salary or how much the player is worth and if the potential employer can afford him.
I deal with teams every transfer season and I know who can afford whom.
Sometimes teams call me inquiring about players ‘contracts.
Players used to play without contracts and they could move anytime, sometimes not even notifying the club but now we do things in a professional and organised way.
What determines the price of a player?
A player’s move can be free without a transfer fee if his contract has come to an end.
However, a player can also be bought out of his valid contract.
Internationally we look at the quality of the league and the quality of a player.
Teams rely on footage of players’ matches and online links.
The age of a player matters the most because teams like investing in a player they can keep for years someone with a potential to be sold in the future.
You don’t always get what you want and sometimes you compromise to make both parties happy.
My clients come first but I have to build a relationship with teams so you have to strike a balance.
The player’s word is final though, especially when more than one team is interested.
What are your future plans for your career?
I am aiming higher and I want to see our players in big leagues.
I hope signing those two players from Kenya would open doors for me to be able to sign more international players.
I also want to start doing online courses to learn the skills to represent players and clubs worldwide.
What are the challenges you face in this business?
It is difficult to make international moves for players because our league is not rated among the best.
People undermine our strength.
As a country we are not doing well in the FIFA rankings so it is difficult to convince teams to buy our players.
For the TS Galaxy deal, one would say it was easy because the owner, Tim Sukazi has been an agent for about 15 years and he represented Tsotso Ngele.
He asked Tsotso to assist him to identify players who can play for his team and Tsotso recommended Gaolaolwe who happened to be my player.
During negotiations, I recommended Morake and Setsile.
They were both on-form and I sent their videos.
He was impressed. Cooper on the other hand marketed himself in Zambia during the CHAN competition and a lot of teams like Zesco were interested.
When we played for the AFCON qualifiers he did well and that is how we got the Dynamos deal.
I always tell them that for me it’s easier when they perform and I do less talking.
What has been the most disappointing situation that you had to deal with in this business?
Sometimes players can betray you as an agent because we are not protected by both the association and by FIFA.
When a player goes behind your back and signs with a team without your consent as a manager, there is nowhere to report and even if you do, the process to seek recourse is just too long.
Our players are disadvantaged and they get intimidated easily.
Sometimes they meet club owners who promise them better deals if they drop an agent and negotiate directly.
The painful part is that when the going gets tough when players are not paid what they have been promised, they come back to me.
At some point, I thought of quitting but I kept going because all jobs have their own challenges.
There was that incident whereby you missed the transfer window deadline for Setsile, Morake, and Mosha’s deal, kindly share with our readers what transpired.
It was a January transfer and in Botswana, the window was closed at 5 pm while in South Africa deadline was 12 midnight.
As an agent, I had done my part in terms of players securing the contract and what remained was for teams, BFA, SAFA, and TS Galaxy to conclude transfer on the TMS.
There was a miscommunication between our clubs on when to notify BFA of the latest transfer after 5 Pm for the TMS officer to be on standby.
When TS required players’ clearance on the TMS, it was after 5 Pm already and there was no one to approve so the deal collapsed and players had to wait until the next transfer window in June.
It was a lesson learned for us.
In the end, players managed to move to TS Galaxy and came back before their two -year -deal ended, Setsile came back after five months, what happened?
We made a mistake and I take the blame.
When we negotiated, the offer was in Rands and after currency conversion, we realised their pay was almost equivalent to their local salary and SA tax was too high.
I had a meeting with the club owner and players and the issue was addressed and their contracts were amended and their salaries increased.
Thero was still not satisfied and terminated his contract of which I was against but he ended up not training.
The other two played for a year and Gaolaolwe was the vice-captain but the tax was about 45% so their take-home was little.
Who is your inspiration?
TS Galaxy club owner Tim Sukazi and my mentor Tiro Lepotokisi.
They helped me a lot in this business.
I draw strength from my mother Malebogo Moipone, she is a nurse at Athlone Hospital.
She raised my two siblings and as a single mother.
She was harder on me than any other child at home and prevented me from playing football saying it will distract me from my studies but now she supports me a lot and she is my painkiller when I got through challenges.
She gives me courage and hope.
Thank God it’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?
I will be watching Premier Soccer League because my interest is there since the domestic league has been on hold for a year now.