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A dream deferred

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CORONA PUTS SLOVAKIA ON HOLD FOR LOCAL DUO

The chance of a lifetime, to play domestic football in Europe, has been put on hold for two local ladies as the coronavirus pandemic keeps its killer claws wrapped tightly around world sport.

National team players, goalkeeper Sedilame Bosija and striker Reilwe Tholakele were meant to leave for a four-month trial with top Slovakian side Partizan Bardejov at the start of March.

The try-outs were scheduled to run until 30 June, as the duo looked to secure contracts with the Division One outfit.

That dream has been deferred, for now.

The pioneering pair were identified by Bardejov after impressing during the national team’s training camp in Slovakia last year.

The Mares had travelled to the landlocked Central European nation as part of their preparations for the Olympic Qualifiers.

It proved to be an apt choice.

Shortly after their return from the West, the ladies famously went on to knock South Africa out in the second round of qualifying, beating their mighty neighbours 3-2 on penalties after the two-legged tie finished goalless.

23-year-old Bosija starred in the match, brilliantly saving two penalties to cap a heroic performance.

Although the journey would ultimately end in a narrow loss to Zambia in the next round, the victory over a South African side who had competed at the World Cup just a month earlier remains a milestone in local sport.

For the trail-blazing Bosija, making history is nothing new.

The Tutume-born shot stopper became the first Motswana lady to play in the South African league when leading club Bloemfontein Celtic snatched her up in 2017.

RISING HIGH: Bosija

Bosija’s three-year contract with Celtic came to an end last December and she remains anxious to explore new opportunities.

Tholakele, meanwhile, has made her name at the other end of the pitch.

The 24-year-old Township Rollers forward is a natural goal-scorer and has led the line for the national team for many years now.

Tholakele’s speed and strength, combined with her clever movement make her a nightmare for defenders to play against.

Speaking to Voice Sport this week, a disappointed Bosija said she had no doubt that both herself and Tholakele would have excelled at Bardejov.

“It is unfortunate that we could not travel because of this world disaster. But the deal still stands and we are hopeful this shall pass and we will be able to go.”

Indeed, the dedicated keeper revealed she is working hard on her fitness to ensure she is ready to pounce when her chance arrives.

“I am currently training every day in the afternoon to keep fit and national team Goalkeeper Coach Thabo Motang is facilitating the training. There was another team in Czech Republic which was interested in signing me but the Slovakian one was quick to send a letter. We agreed with our agent Moran Nthoiwa to go there and the team was to pay our four-month stay expenses,” explained Bosija, who started playing football as an 11-year-old at Monarch Primary School in Francistown.

Originally Bosija began as a striker but, fortunately for Botswana football, fate was to intervene.

“One day during school ball games our goalkeeper was absent and my teammate, Tshiamo Manuel advised me to take the position. We lost 1-0 but the coach was impressed by my performance and so I continued in goal.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

“We qualified to represent the Francistown region in the nationals where I was identified by Tshepo Mphukuthi who called me for U13 camp. I was very consistent in my performance and played for U15, U17, U20 and now senior national team. I played for Rollers from 2013 to 2015 and in 2016 I joined Double Action where I played for few months before I was signed by Celtic,” summarised Bosija, who was quick to thank the Botswana Football Association (BFA) for their part in her rise.

It is a rise that for now must come to a standstill.

The next chapter, however, should make for fascinating reading!

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BFA welcomes COVID-19 stipend

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BFA welcomes COVID-19 stipend

On Monday Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYSC), Tumiso Rakgare revealed the government’s plan to help the elite and second-tier leagues with player’s salary subsidies respectively.

Minister Rakgare stated that 25 players of all the 16 teams in the BTC premiership will be paid P2, 500 whilst first division players will each receive P1, 500 for the months of April. May and June.

Teams were expected to submit the required documentation for verification and due processes this week.

The Minister said it was inevitable for government to intervene as sports was the first discipline to be affected by Covid-19, citing the Mares Under 17 trip to Morocco that never materialized.

The Mares were scheduled to face their Moroccan counterparts for a return leg of the FIFA World Cup qualifier in March.

He further revealed that the subsidy is part of the P70 million set aside by the ministry to cushion the impact of Covid-19.

BFA welcomes COVID-19 stipend
SPORTS MINISTER: Rakgare

“The subsidy is only for Batswana players, technical and office staff and monies will be directly deposited to player’s bank accounts to avoid situations where teams might use such funds for their daily expenses,” he said.

He further revealed that referees will be assisted through the FIFA relief fund as agreed with BFA.

Letshwiti hailed the intervention, which he said will cushion the effects of the pandemic on the socio- economic lifestyles of players and technical members involved in running of the clubs.

“This will also go a long way in giving club leaders a reprieve during this challenging time,” he said.

The BFA President said club leaders and owners are custodians of football events and this financial assistance is critical in sustaining players and eventually the clubs they represent.

“The BFA is truly humbled by this noble gesture of unity. We have since availed P40,000 to BPL clubs as a reprieve to help clubs mitigate these devastating consequences,” he saud.

He further said, together with their partners, including government, they continue to discuss sustainable means to get football out of the woods.

“We truly are encouraged by the posture adopted by Honorable Minister Rakgare in finding the most reasonable and practical solution to the problems football faces in the country,” Letshwiti said.

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Teranga lions’ world cup legend retires

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Teranga lions’ world cup legend retires

Montpellier’s veteran former Senegal attacker Souleymane Camara has retired after 13 seasons with the side, club president Laurent Nicollin said on Monday.

Camara, 37, played a record 423 times for the outfit where he won the Ligue 1 title in 2012 and made the last of his 35 international appearances in the same year.

“We spoke on Friday and the decision was taken,” Nicollin told A French newspaper.

“He’s now thinking about what he’ll do next. We’ve given him some time to know what he wants to do, if he wants to coach here. We’ve left the door open,” he added.

Camara started his career with Monaco in 2001 before a loan spell at Guingamp and joining Nice four years later.

He was part of the Senegal squad which beat the then holders France en route to the historic 2002 World Cup quarter-finals.

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