Gaborone — For decades, Selebi Phikwe has been known as a copper-nickel mining town, but it has also been a major contributor to the development of Botswana football.
The demise of what was once a thriving mining economy has not dampened efforts by football fanatics to continue the town's reputation as a major contributor to local football.
Nico United is the most dominant team with more appearances in the elite league, mainly because of the financial support from BCL company. The second most popular club is FC Satmos. Other teams are Red Lions, Real Movers, Black Aces, Makanyane, Tse Tshweu, No Mathata, Granada, Mosquito and Mowana Kicks.
The late Sam Sono and Mooketsi Mading are household names in Selebi Phikwe football. Sono played for Township Rollers, the national team and was also founder of FC Satmos.
He was instrumental in the growth of football in Botswana, particularly in Selebi Phikwe, giving the town a reputation as a major contender in the football sphere.
His contribution was recognised and deservedly had a stadium in Selebi Phikwe named after him.
Another football stalwart, Mading, who is popularly known as 'China,' was one of the most decorated football players to ever come out of Botswana.
His appointment to positions of manager and director at FC Satmos facilitated a very strong rivalry between FC Satmos and the dominant Nico United side.
Mading was responsible for the rapid development of football in Selebi Phikwe.
Development coach, Lucas Segopa said he strongly believes that Selebi Phikwe was one of the major contributors to local football.
Segopa, who is also a teacher at Mojamorago Junior Secondary School and founder of Red Lions, got involved in development football upon finishing his teaching studies in 2001. He said he believes that one of the reasons the town was regarded as a major football contributor was because youngsters were encouraged to go for trials or sign with bigger teams to take their careers to greater heights.
Furthermore, he said development coaches in Selebi Phikwe did not focus on mature players, but rather prefered to focus on young players.
"Just like I did with Onkabetse Makgantai and Kgomoetsile Kufigwa, I started taking interest in the players individually, buying them training equipment," said Segopa.
He said in order to keep the reputation of Selebi Phikwe intact as a major football town, development coaches needed to work towards keeping the league interesting in order to attract more talented players.
He praised the Selebi Phikwe Regional Football Association for their efforts in supporting development coaches in the quest to develop talent, but thinks more could be done.
He added that as coaches, they did not have support structures in their teams, given that most of the time teams were managed by individuals, which incapacitated their efforts as they struggle financially, but said his passion was what kept him going.
Segopa said they felt less appreciated as development coaches, especially by the big teams who benefited from their development programmes, and thinks its high time Botswana Football Association came up with appropriate structures to support them in that regard.
He said he was happy about the constituency tournament, saying it has helped in their cause of keeping the youth engaged in sports and feels that more funds should be allocated to the first division league.
"The demise of BCL has impacted negatively on our efforts to develop talent in Selibe Phikwe, families have moved, so has most of our players. Financial assistance in the form of sponsorships is limited," he said.
Segopa has seen the rise of talents such as Shepherd Mosekgwa, Gift Moyo, Makgantai and the late Kabelo Sebopi, whom he mentored from school.
Some of the players to have had a chance to train under Segopa are Thabo Mosielele (Miscellaneous), Khumbulani Maziba (BDF XI), Kufigwa (Security Systems FC), Lesong Senne (Lesirane City FC) and Onkemetse Garetsosane (Green Lovers)
Thabiso Mabachi, Richard Legwaila and Mompati Thuma are some of the prominent players who hail from Phikwe who went on to earn themselves caps for the national team.
Mosekgwa, a legend in the football fraternity, who played for different teams in Botswana, including Botswana Meat Commission, Jwaneng Comets and BDF XI, is currently a development coach responsible for Selebi Phikwe East. There is also Kgosietsile Jacob, who is responsible for Selebi Phikwe West.
Mosekgwa said in an interview that he was also of the view that Selebi Phikwe could be credited for its role as a major contributor to football in Botswana.
"Thabo Motambo, Lodger Modise and Mmoni "States" Segopolo are some of the names that come to mind when it comes to Selebi Phikwe football.
These are some of the players who dominated the league back then," said Mosekgwa.
He said his generation of players from Selebi Phikwe dominated the premier league, something he said continues since a significant percent of players in the premier league were from the central region.
Source : BOPA