The remarkable rise of a Rakops ladies football club
The dusty little village of Rakops, also known as Tsienyane in Boteti is not known for sporting dominance, particulalrly in football.
The scenic village has however been getting a lot of attention recently after the emergence of 400m star Christine Botlogetswe.
Just a fortnight ago Rakops added to her sporting profile when son of the soil, badminton umpire Emmanuel Kgaboetsile was chosen Sports Person of the Year at the Botswana National Sports Awards.
It would appear beneath the dust there’s an abundance of of rough diamonds. Onkgotse Lemphole an auto-mechanic lost to football is determined to unearth Rakops’s footballing gems.
The dreadlocked football administrator is at the helm an exciting ladies outfit called Desert Buffalos.
In their third season campaigning in Boteti Region Division one, Buffalos are making a name for themselves in the region.
In an exclusive interview with The Voice, Lemphole said the idea of forming a team came after a failed attempt with a team called Buffalos FC.
“The first team used to compete in the Constituency tournaments, but we later disbanded because we were not achieving what we had initially set out to do. Some players lost interest and quit,” he said.
Lemphole, a football fanatic who has played at secondary school including Maun Technical College however never lost hope and registered a company Desert Buffalos.
He’s quick to admit that he has never signed for any local football club, his humble way of saying he’s only played as an amateur.
“The company currently has both the male and female clubs in Division one. We also have the Under 17 teams,” he told Voice Sports.
Since registration in 2016, the male Desert Buffalos team has finished in the top four in three consecutive seasons, and the dreadlocked Lemphole believes soon they will make the play-offs and get a promotion to the first division.
His pride however is the female side who recently deposed off Orapa All Stars 6-0 to reach the the finals of the General Manager’s Cup in Letlhakane.
The Independence tournament sponsored by Debswana and Kanu Equipment has attracted five ladies team and 12 men’s team from Boteti Region.
Mostly made up of out of school girls, Desert Buffalos are firm favorites to lift the cup this Independence against Tawana Top Girls who also scored six past their hapless opponents.
“My players are focused and have been training together for a while. I’m confident that they’ll do well at the finals,” he said.
Lemphole further said while it is not financially rewarding to be managing a football club at a lower level he hopes in the long run the sacrifice will be worth it.
“I planted a seed with the help of football lovers in the village who have volunteered their services. We may not reap the rewards now but our belief is that this legacy will live on and someone will benefit from this project in years to come,” he said.
The pragmatic administrator revealed to Voice Sport that he’s currently looking for a coach for his boys’s club following the transfer of his coach to Bobonong.
“He’s a teacher and he has been transferred. It is such a big blow for the team because we also lost our assistant coach who was also transferred,” lamented Lemphole over losing the two educators.
He further added that the ladies coach is also a volunteer who sometimes chooses his personal chores over the club.
“Often he’d be herding his cattle to the river and there’s nothing we can do because its his lively hood,” he said. “We however value his contribution because he genuinely loves football,” added Lemphole.
“I just wish there was a way to get qualified and dedicated coaches out here because there’s a lot of talent in the village which needs to be nursed,” Lemphole concluded thoughtfully.