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.
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!