ROLLERS VOW TO WIN THE LEAGUE FOR FALLEN PLAYER
Township Rollers have vowed to win the BTC Premier League as a tribute to their fallen soldier, Gofaone Thapelo Sbidah ‘The President’ Tiro.
The club will also ‘retire’ Tiro’s jersey number, 25, in honour of the midfield mistro.
The 26-year-old football star, who died on the 28th of March after collapsing during training, was laid to rest at Gulubane village on Saturday.
Hundreds of mourners, including past and present teammates, former managers and many more from the footballing fraternity, turned up to pay their respects to the popular sportsman.
Speaking at the funeral, Tiro’s uncle, Benjamin Bikie Showa told mourners that the postmortem showed his nephew’s heart was swollen and subsequently stopped pumping blood, which caused his death.
Recalling the terrible day that Tiro died, Rollers Manager, Motshegetsi Mafa revealed the midfielder had been the first to arrive at the club’s training ground. He said Tiro did not show any signs of sickness.
“When the training session was on, Tiro collapsed and our medic Patrick rushed to help him. He screamed twice and tried to stand up but he was struggling to breathe. We rushed him to the hospital and on the way the situation worsened. I could hear his last breath when we crossed Notwane River on our way to Marina. I decided to drive to village clinic where the doctor satisfied him dead,” narrated Mafa.
The manager revealed he returned to the training ground to inform the technical team and other players that Tiro had died.
He said the incident had traumatised the players so much that they decided to engage a professional counsellor and psychologists.
He thanked Botswana Premier League for giving the team time to mourn by postponing the club’s fixtures with Green Lovers and Nico.
‘We pray that God gives us strength so that we win all our remaining games. We want to defend our title for Sbiddah. After winning the title, we are going to bring his medal here in Gulubane to his parents. We will have a tournament with teams from here and surrounding villages like Sechele, Mambo and Masingwaneng to honour him,” promised Mafa.
Rollers Coach Mpote described Tiro as a ‘super sub’ and a ‘game changer’ whose passing skills were amongst the best in the team.
Mapalistina’s mentor praised Tiro’s natural ability to read the game, calling him an impact player.
The deceased’s mother, Thalitha Sethebe Tiro said her son died doing what he loved.
She stressed it was God’s will, adding she does not blame anyone for Tiro’s death and that she is certain he is at peace.
She thanked Batswana, Township Rollers players, management, football supporters and the family for their support.
Tiro’s father, Joshua Moshashane said the last time he saw his son was when Rollers played against Security Systems.
He thanked Sexton Kowa for grooming his son at Santos Desportos football development academy.
He said it helped Tiro achieve his dream of becoming a professional player.
“Growing up we thought he was going to be a goalkeeper but he became a speedy winger. He choose football as a career and he was very passionate about it. He made us proud as his parents,” said Moshashane.
Tiro’s former coach and the man who originally signed him at Rollers, Madinda Ndlovu said when Somerset Gobuiwang recommended Sbidah to him in 2013, he was reluctant to sign him.
The Zimbabwean was worried that, due to Tiro’s lack of height and body structure, he would not be physical enough to handle top flight football.
However, Ndlovu added that his concerns disappeared when he observed Tiro during pre-season training, as he realized immediately the talented youngster had what it takes.
Popa stalwart and Zebras captain, Joel Mogorosi said the team were determined to win the league for their friend.
He revealed on the day Tiro died, they were training in two teams, first 11 against the reserves.
He said Sbidah kept on saying they should go all out as the reserve team to score goals as they only get time to do so during training.
“‘Juluka nkgonne a re koreng ka ke gone fa re bonang chance’ – his last words before he collapsed.”