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Transforming Toronto



The brains behind Notwane’s stunning revival

Having cemented their return to the Premier League with a 12th place finish, missing out on the Top 8 by just four points, many expected Notwane FC to push on this season.

However, a nightmare start quickly curtailed any dreams of glory Toronto might have haboured.

Docked six points for failing to comply with licencing requirements before a ball had been kicked in anger, once the action started the club’s fortunes plummeted further.

After just one game, a 2-0 loss to Police XI, Notwane parted ways with their journeyman Serbian coach, Dragojlo Stanojlovic.

The Gaborone-based outfit moved swiftly to replace Drago, bringing in local tactician Oupa Kowa to steady their stuttering ship.

The former Township Rollers, Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Extension Gunners man found himself under immediate pressure, losing his first four matches in charge, his side failing to score a single goal.

Despite the disastrous run, to their credit Notwane’s supporters showed a patience and understanding rarely seen in the cutthroat modern game.

“Management and fans understood that they had to give me time to map out a strategy that would eventually help the team get the needed results. They could see that there was bit of improvement in play despite losing so many games,” recalls Kowa, speaking exclusively to Voice Sport this week.

“I took over when stakes where really high at the club – results were not coming in! I had to assess the team, and the league did not give us luxury to do that – that is why we lost so many games.”

Kowa attributes much of Notwane’s early troubles to a lack of fitness in the squad.

“Furthermore, I was unhappy with the level of fitness of my players at the time hence I had to improvise to at least get few points but it was not to be.”

A 0-0 draw against Gaborone United followed, the rot temporarily halted as Notwane claimed their first point of the season thanks largely to the heroics of their goalkeeper, Mabitso Rapowa.

However, the goalless encounter meant Toronto had now gone 540 minutes (nine hours) without scoring.

Finally, in their seventh outing of the season, Sechaba ended their drought, a Terry Mbuqe penalty securing a 1-1 draw with BDF XI.

The wait for a win would last a little longer.

A 2-1 loss to Township Rollers left Notwane rooted to the bottom on -4 points after eight matches.

Finally, on a muggy Wednesday evening in the first week of November, over two months after the Premier League started, Kowa’s troops picked up their first victory.

TURNAROUND: Notwane players celebrating a goal

Gilport Lions, who themselves were on a five-match losing streak, proved the perfect opposition.

With both teams low on confidence, a scrappy game ensued. In the end a single goal settled the tie and Notwane at long last had a win to savour.

The result would prove a turning point in Notwane’s season.

Since the Gilport game, Toronta have accumulated 20 points from a possible 33, including a win and a draw against title chasing Orapa United.

The unlikely turnaround has seen the club launch up the league, although, because of their awful start, they still sit precariously placed, just one point above an incredibly tight drop zone.

So, exactly how did Kowa achieve such a remarkable transformation?

“With a little bit of belief in what I am doing by the players and being a father-figure to them helped a lot. They felt free to approach me with their problems on and off the pitch. It paid dividends as we are now getting those crucial points!” is the mild mannered coach’s humble explanation.

Oozing confidence having won their last three league encounters, including a 1-0 triumph over Orapa last time out, and securing an Orange FA Cup quarter-final meeting with Jwaneng Galaxy after shooting down BDF 2-0, the postponement of local football could not have come at a worst time for Notwane.

Time will tell if the Covid-19 disruption derails the team’s momentum.

For Kowa, however, there are other Corona-related complications to consider.

“I fear that the players might come back affected psychologically. A typical example would be when a player sustains a serious injury. After recovery he mostly fears contact and that might happen to our beautiful game, where players might fear contact due to this.”

With the enforced break set to continue for the foreseeable future, Kowa is keen to ensure his players maintain the fitness that has been instrumental to their revival.

“Through my physical trainer I have given my boys a programme to keep fit. So on return we concentrate on strategies and game approach.”

For Kowa and his in-form troops, that return can not come soon enough.


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BTA to submit post COVID-19 roadmap



BTA to submit post COVID-19 roadmap

Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) President Oaitse Thipe has revealed to Voice Sport their intention to resume their calendar of events in an interview on Wednesday.

The president said they are in the process of submitting names for their skeletal staff permits with the sole aim of completing their sporting calendar.

Thipe told Voice Sport that once they shift their gears into motion, they’ll first turn their attention to local tournaments such as Gaborone Club Junior Open and Orapa Open.

“We’ll then move to international tournaments which we anticipate to host this coming October,” he said.

“In addition, the Advanced Course International Tennis Federation (ITF) Level 2 is also in the cards for the end of August,” said Thipe.

The BTA President who came into office last year September said one of their key targets is to increase participation in wheelchair and beach tennis.

“We are expecting a handful of donations such as wheelchairs, rackets and all the necessary beach tennis equipment from ITF this coming June, and that is surely aligned to our mandate,” explained Thipe, further stating that despite some success their nine months in office has not been smooth sailing.

“We’ve successfully hosted a number of courses in which over 16 officials have graduated. We also witnessed the remarkable rise of one of our young talents Denzel (Seetso) flexing his muscle in the continent and becoming the highest ranked African player,” he said proudly.

The president however lamented their lack of money which has hampered their intention to increase coaches across the country, a key component to having more players plying their trade in elite competitions across Europe and the United States of America.

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Daggers drawn for BFA top post



Daggers drawn for BFA top post

Uncertainty over the looming Botswana Football Association (BFA) elective congress was finally cleared this week when the Electoral Committee announced 8th of August as a date for the d-day.

The BFA elections were left in limbo since the outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent suspension of all football matters.

Briefing the media this week, board chairperson Moemedi Leina said since the elections will be held in the middle of a State of Emergency the elections board will be guided by the Covid 19 Task Force.

He said citizens aged between 30 and 75 years and without any criminal record can begin submitting their names for possible election starting on the 1st to the 12th of June.

Battle for the BFA’s top post promises to be a bare knuckled contest, with four prominent figures already looking set to throw their names into the hat.

Incumbent, Maclean Letshwiti will face stiff competition from former BFA president Tebogo Sebego, politician Boyce Sebetela and former BFA Chief Executive Officer Ookeditse Malesu.

The four potential candidates are already canvasing for votes across regions, and attempting to sway delegates to their sides.

While few have publicly stated their intention to stand for elections, Francistown Regional Football Association Chairperson Maokaneng Bontshetse has long declared his candidature for the Vice President 2 position.

Bontshetse, a shrewd sports administrator is one of the longest serving football servants in the country.

He prides himself as the founder of the Zebras Supporters Club.

Letina has however advised potential candidates that there are certain requirements they must meet in order to be eligible.

He said candidates should be active in football structures and not be insolvent.

“We’re also not going to allow people from other sports codes. The committee will vet from June 22-29 and publish candidates’ names on June 30,” he said.

Letina further said they will then allow for appeals or queries for the next two weeks before publishing the final list on 23rd July.

“During the appeals period, we’ll simultaneously compile and prepare a voters roll. This year there will be no elections in the regions after the General Assembly resolved that regional committees will run for four years, which means their terms ends in 2022,” said Letina.

Meanwhile the association Chief Executive Officer Mfolo Mfolo said their medical team is working round the clock to prepare for the return of football action.

Last week Ministry of Sports approved the resumption of football activities operations for the premier league and first division games from the 1st of June.

Mfolo said the medical team is to submit the final guidelines to the BFA National Executive Committee so that teams can start competitive football.

He said there are certain Covid-19 regulations they need to adhere to.

The league is left with 13 games to complete the season.

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