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The country’s soccer legend

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The country’s soccer legend
The country’s soccer legend: Pontsho 'Piro' Moloi

Piro hangs his soccer boots

Seasoned soccer star Pontsho Moloi, affectionately known as Piro, has decided to hang up his football boots after a long, distinguished and decorated career.

The 34-year-old Gaborone born midfielder has played for Notwane, Mochudi Centre Chiefs, junior national teams and the senior national team.

However, it is his stay at Chiefs that will go down in history as his most successful.

In the 10 years that he played and captained Magosi, they won four league titles, becoming one of the most dominant teams in the country in the process.

Voice reporter Portia Ngwako met up with the recently retired Piro to reminisce over his football career, touch on his personal life and discuss what the future holds for the Chiefs legend.

Q. When did you start playing football?

I started playing football at a tender age. Growing up at Extension 27 I used to play on the street for fun, betting with magwinya (fat cakes).

I played structured football at Broadhurst young strikers under 12 team then joined Notwane junior team for under 17 before eventually playing for their senior team.

My football career started at Notwane because that is where I got call-ups for junior national teams and the Zebras before finallyjoining Centre Chiefs.

Q. What does football mean to you?

To me it is the ultimate sport – it means everything to me!

Q. What makes a great player?

You need to have passion, be dedicated and love the game before anything like pride, incentives and money.

Alex Ferguson will tell you Wayne Rooney does not care about how much he is paid – what matters most to him is to make sure he is in the starting lineup.

Q. Describe one football moment you will never forget?

(Pauses for a thought)There are too many to mention – if I were to name them all this interview would last forever!

Every time I lifted a cup or won a medal was always a special moment.

Even when I saw the smiles of Magosi fans celebrating our achievements – these are moments that will stay with me forever.

 

 

Q.You are regarded by many as the best midfielder to emerge from Botswana. Who was your inspiration?

Am I? Thank you (laughs). I grew up watching Manchester United and always admired David Beckham.

In this modern era I like Andres Iniesta of Barcelona. I tried to model my career around these players – they really inspired me.

Q.You are the son of former Zebras and Gaborone United player Patrick Zibochwa. Were you following in his steps?

Growing up I was always going with him to the stadium to watch football and he would take me alongto training.

I never tried to emulate him,which is fortunate because I would not have been able to achieve what I have achieved otherwise.

Q. There is an issue of local teams using muti to enhance their performances and win games – do you believe in that?

I do not believe in that and have never seen it happening in our team – otherwise African teams would be winning the world cup all the time.

Q. What have been the high and low lights in your career?

All the times I played football I tried to enjoy myself and entertain spectators.

I am proud of the feedback I get from supporters of the teams I played for.

I am the type of player that is aggressive on the pitch and some said gakenamaitseo (I am rude) because I had always wanted to be a winner.

However, had you taken that aggression from my game,I would have been a far inferior player.

I would have probably chickened out and fallen into the category of ‘ordinary players’.

The country’s soccer legend
FLYING HIGH: Pontsho Piro Moloi in action

Q. You and your brothers are amazingly gifted soccer players. Does playing for different teams create any tension in the family?

All four of us have played football. Our elder brother Lefty played for Paymasters Spurs as a striker.

I can compare Dirang to BB Sechele and Masego Nchigane.

My late mother was a Notwane supporter and when I left to join Chiefs,Dirang remained so it was difficult for her to divide loyalty, especially when we were facing each other.

Dirang, Pako and I would tease each other when we played against each other.

However, for us it was always about enjoying the game and, despite the outcome, remembering that at the end of the day we are stillof the same blood.

Q. You seemed to be a consistent player in your 10 years of being captain of Chiefs. What motivated you?

It is never easy to play consistently but I made it because I trained well and took care of myself both on and off the pitch.

As an athlete you need to conduct yourself very well off the pitch because it will take you far and results will show on the pitch.

I was also driven by the passion I have for the game of soccer.

Q. Many believed you were fit enough to continue playing next season. What made you decide to retire?

My legs are not as good as they used to be. They cannot carry me to the next season and I feel it.

I have tried but I had to stop. I could have done it last season but management and the technical team persuaded me to carry on to this season.

It is always good to quit when you stillhave a name and people have something good to remember you by.

It has always been about the team that I played for.

Q. Share with our readers your moments at Bay United in South Africa.

I played with big players like Cyril Nzama, Patrick Mayo, Jimmy Khauleza and other South African soccer legends and I learnt a lot from them.

Q. Chiefs were recently crowned champions after Rollers were docked 10 points but last week Rollers were re-awarded their points. What can you say about this?

It is disappointing but we are still hopeful that the premier league will come up with a solution because the case is not over yet.

Things have to be done right and soccer should be won on the pitch.

It is a shame to see the beautiful game in the courts corridors.

Q. What is your future role with Chiefs?

It is up to me what I want to do. I have two alternatives – either becoming an administrator or going into coaching.

I am very happy because it shows they (Chiefs) appreciate my contribution and hard work over the years.

Coaching is not an easy task, as one of the local coaches Daniel Nare once said ‘bolo ga se mmammamphabogobe’.

I think I will opt for office work for now and go into coaching at a later stage.

The country’s soccer legend
LIFTED: Piro during a celebration

Q. With the current squad we have, do you think the Zebras can qualify for AFCON 2017?

Yes they definitely can – we stand a good chance.

We still have some players who were part of the team when we qualified in 2012.

Quality, experienced players like, Joel, Tsotso, Nato and Mafoko – they are all contributing a lot.

You can’t buy experience,it has to be earned!

The new and experienced players blend together very well, and both the future and the present of Botswana national soccer is bright.

Q. What message can you give to upcoming players?

Believe in yourself, be dedicated, focused and committed to the game.

I think hard work is abused. I have always believed in smart work – one of my former coaches said I can make you run the whole day but if you are not smart you cannot win games.

Q. Some people think football is a sexy game. Were ladies throwing themselves at you?

You cannot separate soccer and good things or the limelight from soccer.

When you are excelling on the pitch you attract many ladies but you should know what is right and wrong.

Q. And finally, thank God it’s Friday. What are your plans for the weekend?

I am taking this as an offseason break. I play a lot of five-a-side becauseI do not want to gain weight.

I spend most of my time with my family and my daughter and my girlfriend.