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Shooting for the stars

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Shooting for the stars

Flying high in a foreign land

As far as local footballers go, few have achieved as much as Mogakolodi Tsotso Ngele.

For the last seven years, the long-legged 29-year-old midfielder has plied his trade in the South African Premier League.

The Gaborone native’s time in Mzansi has been laden with silverware, including two league titles, a CAF Champions League triumph and two Telkom Cups.

Ngele has played for giants such as Mamelodi Sundowns, Bidvest Wits, Platinum Stars, Supersport United and his current club, Black Leopards – a side he joined at the start of the season on a two-year contract.

He was also part of the history-making Zebras squad that qualified for AFCON 2012.

In what remains Botswana’s only appearance at the continental competition, Ngele – then aged 21 – was the country’s standout player.

Voice Sport’s PortiaMlilosat down with the former Township Rollers enforcer where they discussed his footballing past, present and future as well as his clothing label.

Q. How did your interest in football start?

I started playing when I was eight years old, turning out for FlamengoDesportos under the tutelage of Sexton MatshidisoKowa.

I was coached by Kowaand George Mogopodi.

These two have contributed a lot in my career development.

They nurtured my talent until I caught the eyes of coaches in the junior national teams.

Q. Much of your time at Sundowns was spent warming the bench. How did that affect your career?

It’s a sad part of football life to not get enough game time but you must have discipline and remain strong mentally.

I kept myself busy with my clothing line, ‘Supplies Company’ and music-recording label, MN Entertainment.

That really helped otherwise I was going to be depressed.

Of course it did affect my career because for you to excel and perform at your best, especially in the national team, you must have game time.

Taking an enforced break affects your performance and there is nothing as painful as being passionate about your career but not gettingthe chance to play.

Q. At the start of the current season, you joined another South African PSL side, Black Leopards on a two-year contact. How have you settled in in?

Joining Leopards was a blessing because I am now doing what I love most.

For them to show interest in me even when I didn’t play last season shows that they believe I can add value to the club.

They saw something special in me and I should reward them with a good service of my talent.

Everyone was happy to see me when I arrived and it was like I’ve been here for years because I knew former teammates like Robert Ngambi and ThusoPhala.

Their reception was perfect, I can’t complain.

Q. What would you say was the turning point in your career?

My career turning point was when I went to Wits on loan from Sundowns.

It was special move as the coach who rejected me at SuperSport when I was on trial wanted to give me an opportunity to play for him.

I still thank Coach Gavin Hunt for giving me that opportunity and it was special because I contributed during my time at Wits with goals and assists.

We ended up winning the league and MTN 8 Cup.

Q. You turned 29 in October – do you still harbour dreams of playing in Europe?

I had an opportunity to go play in Europe but some internal issues that I can’t mention denied me that.

Remember when Abedi Pele Ayew was in Botswana for AFCON trophy tour, I spoke with him and he agreed to take me to Europe.

Unfortunately some people decided to block my move.

Even when I was at Platinum Stars I did well – all I asked from my agency at the time was to go for trials but they failed to do that.

The truth is I’m old now, I have ruled that dream of Europe out.

I think it’s my time to pass the baton on to another big player to not just come out of Botswana but aim to play in Europe.

Q. Zebras newly appointed Head Coach, Adel Amrouche recently suspended a number of players for indiscipline. What was your take on that?

I’m a well-disciplined player.

Football is like a father-to-son relationship – if your son strays into trouble,wakgalemajaakamotsadi(you speak to them like a parent), you don’t have to be harsh on them especially if they are young.

They are learning and have the talent they can make a life out of.

They need guidance.

Q. Most of our local exports to South Africa never seem to last in Mzansi for long. Why do you think that is and how have you managed to achieve such a lengthy stay?

Maybe they become home sick (laughing).

On a serious note, this is a major concern.

I would love to see more players playing in other leagues, and not only in SA.

We need those skills and international experience to have a competitive national team.

It is something that football agents should look into and find out the possible reasons.

For me, discipline, hope, faith and patience are things that made my stay long in SA.

It has not been an easy journey and at times I felt like I was rejected and wanted to come back home.

Shooting for the stars
INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALLER

Q. Looking back, what do you regard your greatest achievements on the football field?

I will start at home.

When Botswana qualified for AFCON 2012, I believe that was the greatest achievement because we made history.

At Sundowns, I won Telkom, league and I was part of the squad that won CAF [Champions League].

At Wits, we won the MTN 8 and were league champions, whilst at Platinum Stars I won, MTN 8 and Telkom, where I was even voted Player of the Tournament.

Q. What does it take to be a professional player?

To be a professional requires a lot of sacrifice as you will no longer live a normal life to succeed.

Discipline will take you far and you need to have a big heart to be positive in every situation.

You should not be mentioned in scandals or any act of wayward behavior and find yourself making headlines for the wrong reasons because it will shift your focus and you will lose confidence.

Q. Who is your inspiration?

I draw a lot of inspiration from my family: my mother Susan, brother Godfrey, aunty Tebogo, sister Kefilwe, grandmother Josephine and grandfather George Ngele.

These people are my pillar of strength, I am what I am today because of them.

I will also not forget my fans, they are so amazing and they inspired me to work hard and take my career to another level.

Q. As you mentioned earlier, you have interests outside football. What inspired your clothing label?

I used to watch fashion channels;Pharrell Williams inspired me with his fashion business model as I look up to him.

Every business has ups and downs but the aim is not to give up.

You must keep up with the trend, especially in clothing.

My challenge is being far from my company.

I’m new in the game of clothing industry and experience is the best teacher.

You will lose money in the process but don’t quit, patience is key.

One day the brand will be big and penetrating the international market.

Q. And what are your plans once your playing days are over?

My future plan after football is to focus on my businesses.

But obviously I will still engage in football, maybe start coaching.

I really want to play a part to find another star from my Township White City, that’s why I make a charity tournament every year for my people.

I hope to find sponsors next year to grow the movement.

It’s not about football only but also music, health issues, business ideas and it’s about giving back to the community I grew in.

It’s about giving HOPE in my township.

Q. And finally, Thank God It’s Festive – what are your plans for the holidays?

I can’t wait to be home.

I am coming to Gaborone and I will be spending time with my family.

This is the time when everybody will be home and we share Christmas meal.

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Simply the greatest

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*THE HUMBLE HISTORY MAKER

With her career seemingly drifting into oblivion, stained by a failed drugs-test six years ago, the country’s most decorated athlete produced arguably her greatest comeback earlier this month.

On 14 March, at a low key University of Botswana Athletics Club meet, former 400m World Champion Amantle Montsho qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (now postponed until 2021).

Displaying the determination and guts that has defined her time on the track, the 36-year-old defied her aging limbs, clocking 51.22 seconds to smash the required qualifying time of 51.35. In doing so, the Maun native once again carved her name into the history books, becoming the first Motswana to qualify for four Olympics.

Having missed out on a place at the last Games due to suspension, for Montsho it represents redemption of sorts and a final shot at a medal she was .03 of a second away from claiming at London 2012.

The current Commonwealth Champion sat down with Voice Sport’s Portia Mlilo to look back over her eventful career, a career that might contain one more incredible high.

Who inspired you to become a professional athlete?

I joined athletics when I was doing Standard Three in 1992 and by then I was doing it for fun. Our Coach at Bonata Primary School, Thobogang recognized my talent and nurtured it.

I started running 100m and 200m but by junior school I focused on 400m. When I finished my Form Five in 2003, Botswana Athletics Association called me for out of school camps and that was when I started to take it seriously.

I started competing in regional competitions. In 2006, International Athletics Federation (IAF) called me to train at their high performance training center at Dakar in Senegal.

Why did you choose to be a runner?

Athletics is the number one sport in the world followed by football. In football, when you win as a team you share the prize money while in athletics the money is all mine (laughing).

There are also many athletics competitions in a year in different countries and that is why I decided to be a professional runner.

I used to play softball but after one of my teammates got injured I decided to quit and focused on athletics.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

I run! (laughing). I wake up, take a shower, eat breakfast and go for training.

Is there any athlete who motivates you to do your best during competitions?

There is a lady who makes me take athletics seriously, the American track and field athlete, Allyson Felix.

She is the 2012 Olympic Champion, a three-time World Champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist. She really inspires me.

I always wanted to be a champion like her!

What do you regard as your most memorable race to date?

The World Championships in Daegu 2011 when I won the Gold medal. When approaching the finishing point I really enjoyed the moment.

It was very competitive and I was fit. I was with Felix at the front and I managed to beat her.

What is your favourite part of being on the track?

I enjoy it when I compete with the best athletes and when the fans cheer us on.

Most Batswana used to follow and support football and were not too bothered about other sports codes.

But I made them like athletics and take it into consideration!

I enjoy most when I approach the finishing line because I go all out from 150m. I also enjoy when there is an athlete who gives me competition.

Massive congratulations on being the first athlete from Botswana to qualify for four Olympic Games. How much does this mean to you?

This really means a lot. It shows I am doing something right. I had so many challenges in this career but I remained focused and do what I love most.

I am very thankful to our government, Botswana National Sport Commission, Botswana Olympic Committee, our association for giving me the necessary support to become a professional athlete.

This should be an inspiration to others, especially female athletes, because we go through a lot of challenges. You are expected to be married, have kids – people forget you also have other interests like sports career!

What makes a great athlete?

Discipline, determination, dedication and focus. You must have goals and set targets to achieve them. You have to follow your coach’s instruction.

Growing up, I was very disciplined. I missed out on a lot of things that young people considered ‘cool’.

I did not drink alcohol or smoke. It was only two years back when I could have a glass of wine, drinking not to get drunk.

You should be careful what you eat and drink. You must be disciplined, otherwise your career will be very short!

You mentioned your Gold medal World Championship winning run as your most memorable race. How did it change your life financially, professionally and socially?

My life changed. I was now the country’s diamond, a role model so I had to do things professionally.

I even had to be careful what I shared on social media because now I had a large following, both locally and internationally.

Amantle Montsho

After winning Gold, I had a few endorsements and Nike increased its sponsorship. We have seen a lot of athletes struggling with life after sports so I decided to invest in property with the money I was making from athletics. So far I have six houses in Block 7 Gaborone.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a top athlete in Botswana?

Lack of facilities! Athletics is a big sport and it is high time the country establish a high performance centre.

The other challenge is when you do not deliver as the nation had expected during major competitions.

People will start bashing you and put you under a lot of pressure.

Money and fame often make people lose focus – how do you ensure you are not led into temptation?

Like I said, discipline is important. Refrain from things that will ruin your career. Avoid unnecessary trips and misusing money.

Invest for the future and do not lose focus. In life you should know what you want then it will not be easy for someone to shift your focus.

Just remain humble, respect others and manage your finances well.

How do you relax during the off-season?

I love travelling so I visit my friends in other countries. I also go shopping, especially when I have stress.

I make sure I spend time with my parents and my siblings.

The 2020 Olympics have been postponed until next year due to the Coronavirus pandemic. How is this going to affect your form and what are you going to do to ensure you remain fit?

It is unfortunate that the games are postponed to 2021 due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

I am on form and I was ready to compete. Now facilities, stadiums are closed and we do not have access to the track.

The President has also announced social extreme distancing, which is going to make it difficult to do roam work.

I will be indoor training at my house to keep fit – fortunately I have a gym.

Realistically, what was your target for the Tokyo Olympics?

My target was an Olympic medal. I had trained very hard to win a medal. This was supposed to be my last competition.

I believe I have done my part in sports and it is time to quit. I still have to talk to my coach and see if I will compete next year since I have qualified.

We’ve touched on some of the highs of your career. At the other end of the scale, what has been your most disappointing experience as an athlete?

Eish, the doping case! I tested positive for a prohibited substance methylhexaneamine at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

That was the worst experience I have ever had. In 2015 I received a two-year ban.

I couldn’t go home because I was afraid; my father was very angry. I also had to hide from the media and the public.

I will be forever grateful to the government for engaging a psychologist!

I stayed at the hotel for two year and I even changed my number. I couldn’t go to the mall or interact with people.

At some point I thought of quitting. The psychologist advised me not to and I also believed I can bounce back.

After three months I started training on my own because one of the conditions was that the association was not suppose to help me with anything.

I made a great come back and in 2017 I qualified for the World Championships.

How did it happen?

I went to a pharmacy in Gaborone to buy an energy drink. The pharmacist recommended the drink and said it does not have any prohibited substances. I was so depressed.

How do you intend to spend your retirement?

I want to start my own academy. I want to turn one of my houses into an athletics academy.

This is a way of giving back to my country and contributing to athletics development. I was supposed to start athletics coaching course after this year’s Olympics.

And finally, Thank God It’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?

Extreme social distancing. I will be locked in my room.

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Kabelo tiro drops Chuchumakgala

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KABELO TIRO

Afro pop musician, kabelo Tiro aka Skavenja has released a 16- track album dubbed, Chuchumakgala.

The choreographer and Fashion Designer has not ditched his style of Afro pop that made him a star in the entertainment industry.

The album has songs such as, Rato lame, Ke Shy, Morate and Ntho Yame amongst others.

He features Philey in the title track and also worked with Tshepo Lesole, Emjoe and Beekay Productions.

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