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Bossing the boys

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Bossing the boys

At the age of 39, Botsalo Mosimanewatlala is pushing the boundaries as an assistant referee.

Determined, talented and highly qualified, during her 12-year career Mosimanewatlala has officiated at some of the biggest domestic football matches in the men’s game, both in the Premier League and the Mascom Top8.

Internationally, she has travelled the world, taking charge of the All Africa Games final on more than one occasion.

Voice Sport’s TSHEPO KEHIMILE sat down with the reserved Molepolole-born lass as she shares her experiences on the field.

Bossing the boys
INTERNATIONAL REFEREE: Botsalo Mosimanewatlala

Q. Thank you for agreeing to meet. Briefly tell us about yourself?

A. Thanks for the interview. My name is Botsalo Mosimanewatlala and I was born and raised in Molepolole in Goo Maoto ward.

Q. And when did your passion for sports develop?

A. My love for sports started when I was at primary school.

I took part in athletics and I was really good at it.

It continued up until my senior level when I went on to further my studies at Naledi Brigade and Gaborone Technical College (GTC) doing a Diploma in Accounting.

Q. Take us through your refereeing career. When and how did it start?

A. To be honest my refereeing career did not start willingly.

I was still pursuing athletics as a long-distance runner but I sustained a major injury which forced me to stop running for a year.

Unfortunately, when I returned I could not reach the same level as before.

To keep fit I started training with referees who conducted their training sessions at the University of Botswana Stadium.

They asked me to join them and that was the start of everything – it was back in 2008.

Q. Refereeing remains a male-dominated profession, especially locally. Why did you decide to take it up?

A. Yes, refereeing is a male-dominated field in our local ranks.

But I told myself that I could not fail because men were able to do it.

Even, when I was doing athletics, I was the only woman running long distances among men and I did very well scooping a series of medals along the way.

Hence I believed that I could be a successful referee one day.

Q. As an aspirant referee, who was your role model?

A. I grew up watching the likes of Orebotse Kekobang, Fido Ramatlhaku and Yvonne Letota who were impressive at the time I was still new to refereeing.

I learned quite a lot from them and I really loved how they did their work.

At that time, Letota was the only woman accredited by FIFA and I attended various matches she officiated so that I might learn one or two things about refereeing.

Q. What refereeing qualifications do you hold?

A. I have acquired so many qualifications as a referee!

But I only got to be accredited as a FIFA assistant referee in 2011, which proved a prosperous year for me.

Later that same year, I was called to officiate at the COSAFA Women’s Championship in Zimbabwe.

As a rookie I proved my worth and participated in the tournament until it reached the semi-final stage.

In 2012, I was called-up again to the prestigious Women Championships in Cameroon and did well.

Then I was on duty again at the All Africa Games held in Mozambique and got the opportunity to officiate at the finals.

I went on to another Women Championship in Equatorial Guinea and finished at the quarter-finals.

In 2013, I was called for a Confederation of African Federation (CAF) Elite B course in Egypt.

Then I went to Congo, Brazzaville for the All Africa Games, again officiating in the final.

And finally in 2015, I did my Elite A referees course. From 2016 till to date, I have been on CAF and FIFA Elite A courses.

Q. What would you say is the hardest match you have ever been involved in?

A. It has to be the 2017 Mascom Top 8 semi-final encounter between Jwaneng Galaxy and Mochudi Centre Chiefs.

Galaxy were leading for most of the game by a single goal but Chiefs scored a late equaliser to force extra time.

The tempo increased; it was very tense!

Internationally, it’s the 2018 Algarve Cup in Portugal; the match was between Portugal and Brazil.

It was a semi-final and both teams were desperate to get to the final.

Mind you the European ladies do not play like us – they play with high intensity thus as referees we have to be on point.

Q. Take us through your biggest achievements as a referee?

A. In that particular Mascom Top8 match I officiated, I received a Top Assistant Referee accolade at the Mascom Top8 Awards Ceremony.

On the international stage, I am proud that I’m now a World Cup candidate.

I’m patiently waiting for that time to come and make my debut at the World Cup – nobody in the country has ever reached that stage before!

Q. What are some of the challenges you face as a female referee?

A. There are so many challenges that we face as female referees.

In most cases it’s the use of vulgar language from the players and the fans.

We always try to ignore it but these words get to our hearts!

I remember a time when I was officiating a match and the supporters were saying I should go back home and feed the children as people have not yet accepted that women can be referees as well.

Q. You are on the cusp of turning 40 – what do you still hope to achieve in the game?

A. I have achieved a lot in my career as an assistant referee and I am proud of my achievements but I still want to see myself at the World Cup rubbing shoulders with the big boys.

I would also jump at the chance to officiate at the Olympics if the opportunity presents itself.

Q. Away from refereeing, what do you do on the side?

A. As far as I am concerned, my focus is only refereeing.

I have never worked nor done anything besides refereeing.

Q. How do you survive on a referee’s wage?

A. I do not survive only on referees wage because it is not enough.

Fortunately there is immense support that I get from my family to be able to survive.

Q. How do you rate the standard of refereeing in the country?

A. I believe the standard of refereeing in the country is stagnant and that is caused by the poor status of our league.

If we could have teams competing at CAF tournaments consistently we could be having referees extracted from our country to officiate in big games internationally, hence the standard would improve.

Q. What do you think can be done to groom young referees locally?

A. That one depends on every individual, what each one of them wants in terms of being a good referee.

But I believe something can be done to help them by showing the importance of learning how to be competent referees.

Furthermore, there has to be continuity when it comes to attending of courses.

In our instance, we always see different faces every course.

Q. Have you ever made a bad call in a game? Tell us more.

A. [Laughing] We are human and are bound to make mistakes.

In my case I recently did a mistake when I was officiating the 2019/20 Mascom Top8 semi-final match between Township Rollers and BDF XI.

When the match started we noticed that the kits clashed a bit but the game went ahead anyway.

When I was supposed to signal the ball in Rollers favour, I gave it to BDF instead.

However, I flagged to the referee to change my decision because the ball had not been played yet!

Another common mistake made by referees is for offside.

In my case it was during a league match between BDF XI and Orapa United at Otse Sports Complex.

It was drizzling a bit and I lost concentration, closing my eyes for a split second.

In that very moment, the Orapa United striker had already passed and I flagged him for offside.

But when we went to half-time I was told that I made a bad call as it was not offside.

I admitted my mistake because of the rain and lapse in concentration.

Q. What do you do in your spare time?

A. I am always home during my spare time.

I do not like going out unnecessarily.

However, sometimes I visit my family in Molepolole.

Q. And finally, Thank God It’s Friday, what have you got planned?

A. As referees, we always focus on the match we will be officiating and start to prepare ourselves mentally for that particular encounter.

We are only told which game we’ll be officiating on Thursday.

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A superstar explodes

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A superstar explodes

Born Atlasaone Molemogi, ATI is one of the country’s most gifted singer-songwriters, blessed with a creativity and energy few can match when it comes to live shows.

Sadly, away from the music, the rapper’s turbulent personal life has been slightly less successful.

While he takes conspiracy theories around the dark world to a whole new level, ATI has been fighting demons of his own.

The ‘Khiring Khorong’ hit-maker is now a self-proclaimed recovering drug addict having checked himself into rehab in late 2018.

This week, the rapper invited Voice Entertainment’s SHARON MATHALA to his suburban home in Gaborone to speak about the latest controversies surrounding his career.

The Voice team arrive to find the flamboyant artist, complete with exfoliating face mask, cleaning his room.

Pleasantries are exchanged and the singer seems in high spirits.

Before the interview begins, however, Deputy Sheriffs and a lawyer turn up to slap ATI with summons.

He is in debt but is optimistic he will come back stronger.

In an emotional roller-coaster of an interview, ATI talks about sexual relations, drug abuse and the bitter fall out with his former manager that have led to recent rape allegations.

Q. Thank you for inviting us into your home, how have you been?

I have been good. I have been blessed.

Q. Why did you decide to speak out against your manager? Where you not afraid this would tarnish your brand?

Even more important is protecting the victims who are derailed into thinking that what they are told is A when it is actually B.

So this is more about the victims not me.

Q. But all of this allegations happened under your nose? Did you not notice anything?

I am very observant but with my manager it was like there was an energetic block.

He controlled everything around me.

Even with the people that I interacted with.

He understood my weakness and he played around that.

Q. Oh! What exactly do you mean by ‘he played around your weaknesses’?

I am one open person, I am an open book.

He knew how to play around that because I vested so much power into him.

All my relationships, he went behind my back and intimidated the people.

He had a hold on a lot of people I have tried to get into a relationship with.

Q. What exactly do you mean?

I will tell you something, I have never been in a relationship.

I have tried.

I have even tried to get into a relationship with money.

I did not understand the culture of a relationship and when I did my manager got in the way because you know people are not comfortable about their sexuality.

Q. Why?

I was dealing with abandonment issues.

I was too clingy with who I am trying to love that they don’t even have time to love me back.

My manager intimidated my partners about their sexuality.

This had been going on for too long until I decided that I should go to rehab.

Q. So you checked yourself into rehab, you were not talked into it by family?

Yes. I checked myself into rehab because nobody cared about me.

I looked at myself as worthless.

My level of self-esteem and confidence was so derailed to a point whereby I did not want to be seen.

It got so bad towards the end of last year.

I will tell you something, he painted a picture of a chaotic character.

Q. But trouble seems to follow you. Do you know this?

Yes. Yes I do.

Q. Why?

Most of the time it’s ‘purpose learnt’ it is not poor decision making.

Most of my chaos is orchestrated by people around me.

Even before the drugs I know they planned all of the bad things against me.

A lot of things have happened and were meant to happen to me.

Q. What do you mean?

The drug industry in Botswana is (….breathes heavily) I am lucky to be alive. I am lucky to still be sane.

Q. When did the drugs start?

In 2015.

Q. What made you dependent on drugs?

I was not dependent on drugs.

I tried to escape the reality of pain.

The painful part was coming face to face with drastic measures afterwards.

I had to cut the cord with everyone I know and evaluate the relationships that surrounded me, from work to love relationships.

When I did this, I found out that most of my relationships were orchestrated with malice by the one person I gave enough power to destroy me.

Q. Please elaborate further and make it clearer for me, what do you mean by this?

Circumstances always turned around to make me seem crazy.

I started questioning my reality and during this time I did not want to talk to nobody.

I was literally down on my knees and I look back now and say I am lucky to be alive.

Q. Do you think the drugs played a big part in your problems?

I don’t blame anything or anyone.

I just believe things happened the way they were supposed to.

I will tell you I am the best version of myself right now.

If happiness was to be gauged from 1 to 10, I am at a 5.

Q. Have you ever been at 10?

No. I have never been on a 10 but it is my first time at 5, that I will tell you!

Q. What drug was it?

I would not want to say.

I will tell you though that it was a drug that made me calm. Is it important to know?

Q. Why were you missing shows?

I was not well.

I couldn’t.

I was mentally unstable.

Wa nkutlwa gore ka reng? (do you understand what I am saying?) Mental health is very important.

When they found out that I was on to what they were doing with all these rapes, they literally tried to make me go crazy!

Q. Did they buy the drugs for you?

No! I bought the drugs for myself.

I mean I was addicted, I still am but I am recovering, you know what I am saying.

I am recovering from a mental problem.

Q. But your fans did not know all of this.

They were screaming your name and you did not come.

That is the thing, that is what I am telling you that [screaming fans] it is just not enough.

I was losing my mind.

I mean if I missed a show because I broke my leg it would be easier to understand, right?

What would you rather lose, your mind or your leg? The mind is everything.

Q. Are you in debt?

I am still trying to pay off all that I owe especially from last year when there was a lot of chaos.

Just right now you saw that I got a summons but I don’t live life by sulking.

I take it with grace and I am going to move through this.

Q. If you could undo one thing, what would it be?

I would not change a thing.

I would not because the level of understanding, what I like and what I don’t like, has heightened right now.

I understand now what it is that can advance me from point A to point B and I do understand what manipulation is.

I have lots of knowledge right now that I would have not known if I had not gone through what you say is a negative space in my life.

I mean I have tried to commit suicide but I am still here.

Q. You attempted suicide?

What I mean is that I now understand what a child who says I am going through depression means on a personal level because I have been through that.

I now understand that it is not the drugs we should be fighting, the fight is to help one accept what one does not want to accept.

It is what I call healing the inner child.

Q. Any plans of having a family of your own in the future?

Depends on what you mean by family. I don’t know what family is.

Q. Children of your own?

Umm, NO!

Q. Do you have a financial advisor?

No but I have had a financial restrainer and that was my mom.

She used to co sign with me.

Q. Have you ever been broke?

I define poverty on a spiritual level.

I have been poor with money in my pockets.

That whole time of ‘Khiring Khiring Khorong’ what I did at the time was the most suicidal thing ever.

I kept myself busy as opposed to dealing with what I was going through.

Same as taking the drugs; I always felt guilty for taking drugs because I felt bad when taking drugs and then coming to have a conversation with you.

I knew that was not me. It ate at my spirit.

But all I want to do is do good.

Q. And finally, Thank God It’s Friday, what will you be up to?

Probably in the studio making music.

*ATI’s manager refused to comment on the allegations against him.

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We’re doomed: an MC’s covid-19 tears

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We're doomed: an MC's covid-19 tears

There’s not a single confirmed case of COVID-19 in Botswana, but the effects of the CoronaVirus pandemic are already being felt by businesses and individuals alike.

The entertainment industry in particular has been the hardest hit, with night clubs and bars ordered to close, and no festivals allowed to take place in the foreseeable future.

For bar tenders, DJs, promoters and Masters of Ceremonies who’re mostly used to money coming in every weekend, this indefinite dry season spells doom.

“It is a nightmare,” said Dineo Keoreng, an upcoming MC and Events Promoter.

Known generally as MC Mis D.

The 31- year -old promoter is among the many individuals hard hit by the cancellations of events in the country and beyond borders.

“If you take a moment and think about the many bartenders, club DJs and people like myself who make money through events coordination and emceeing, you’ll realise just how much this COVID-19 has affected the industry,” she said.

“How are we going to pay rent? These bartenders have kids to feed,” she lamented.

The fast rising MC in Francistown says she had to watch helplessly as over five of her bookings came to naught.

“I was scheduled to MC the Organised Family Tour in Katimamulilo-Namibia in April, but it has since been postponed to July,” said Keoreng.

The energetic “hype lady” said she also had to postpone another event in Bulawayo slated for 18th April at BAC featuRing local DJs Cue and Cheng.

“This would have been the first ever event organised by Mis D Promotions under Keoreng Investments.

“I’m yet to set a new date for the Bulawayo gig. My worry however is that when this COVID-19 pandemic blows over, there’s going to be congestion. There’ll be too many events at the same time, and budgets would have doubled by then,” cried Keoreng.

Mis D however urged her colleagues in the industry to stand firm and use this time to refresh, hone their skills and observe all the health tips to help stop the virus from spreading.

“My focus right now is growing this brand. It’s a pity this virus struck just as I was about to venture into SADC, but I’m certain more opportunities will come,” she said.

Having emceed some of the biggest events such as Toropo Ya Muka, Goledzwa, TRL Soul Sundays, African Attire on Fleek, Orapa Spring Fest, Bulawayo Train Party and many others Mis D feels the time is right for her to take even bigger events, including corporates.

“I’ve worked with reputable companies such as Engen, Alexander Forbes, Mascom, KBL and recently with Star Lite in their promotion of their locally made Mayonnaise,” she said.

“So basically I’m the go to girl for almost everything. If you need promo-girls for your events I’ve got you covered,” added a giggly Mis D.

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