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Rollers’ AGM likely to be a bloodbath

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Amid all manner of speculation and bickering, the crucial and highly-anticipated Annual General Meeting (AGM) for embattled Township Rollers is finally here. It has been a long wait, but this Saturday marks a culmination  of what may change the fortunes of the club for good.  

As it has happened before when the divided Rollers membership met for a decisive gathering, heavy artillery firecrackers should be expected to characterise the watershed  meeting where a new leadership is set to be elected.

At the eye of the proverbial storm is a bitter and well publicised tussle over the soul and ownership of the money spinning football club with a history of over 50 years.  

The battle lines were drawn last year when a group led by one of the team’s founding members, Allen Compton and Mookodi Seisa led an insurrection against current Rollers head honcho and business mogul Jagdish Shah who came into the club as an investor. Under Shah the club reached heights never before witnessed in local football.

However, not everyone was pleased with these developments, as a cabal of supporters led by Seisa felt the club was handed to Shah without following proper   procedure. Following this, the fight for control at Rollers between the two warring factions ended up in a court of   law, in which a judgement favouring Seisa and others was delivered.

The judgement basically stated that Rollers was still a society and not a company, and the Seisa group has all along been displeased that Shah was still calling the shots in the running of the club. Things came to a head this past Saturday at the Molepolole Sport Complex following the biggest upset of the season when Rollers lost to relegation candidates BR Highlanders.

After the profound 2-1 loss at the hands of the Mahalapye outfit, the Rollers debacle took a new twist when supporters called for Seisa’s head, blaming him solely for the poor performance the team showed on the day.

It was apparent that ugly boardroom politics was finally rearing its ugly head on the football pitch. “Come down from there and apologise,” one of the supporters yelled out to Seisa who was sitting amongst some Rollers committee members at the top of the main stands. For his safety, a handful of police officers and security guards quickly went to his rescue to form a protective barricade that impeded the supporters from harming him.

Clad in their Rollers regalia, the seething mob of supporters seemed to grow angrier by the moment. “Seisa was on the radio this morning ranting about how the team should go back to being a society. He is the reason why we lost, as he made it clear on radio that he would rather see the team relegate,” another of the angry supporters shouted.

“We warned him not to show up at the game. We even know where he resides in Gaborone; we will get him,” another voice in the mob prevailed. Speaking in an interview this week, Seisa said he escaped from the sport complex unscathed as security officers later dispersed the angry crowd.

Seisa denied uttering statements to the effect that he would like to see the team relegate. “I simply answered the question of what would happen if the investor suddenly withdrew from the team. I answered the question by saying Rollers would prevail like its moniker which says, ‘Popa Popa ya ipopa.’ I was merely misinterpreted. I love Rollers just as much as other loyal supporters.”

Seisa is hopeful that Rollers peace and harmony will prevail at their weekend AGM where a new committee will be elected. But from experience, it may as well be another of the Rollers’ gatherings where blows may be traded.

The atmosphere, as the AGM nears, is pregnant with violence and it would not be surprising to see the venue teeming with several security officers. The commotion in Molepolole might yet be a microcosm of what is likely to happen this weekend.

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makwala iaaf issue ignored

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President of Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) Mooketsi Thari this week revealed that International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Sebastian Coe is coming to Botswana for other matters surrounding BAA, not the infamous Isaac Makwala saga that occurred during the 2017 World Championships staged in London.

In fact, BAA has no intention to demand answers or even mention the Makwala issue to the IAAF president. A staunch Thari said the BAA will not even ask for any form of compensation following the Makwala debacle. Thari was addressing members of the press about the on-going preparations ahead of the IAAF president’s arrival in Gaborone this coming Saturday.

Makwala, the world famous local 400m sprinter and the men’s 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medalist was controversially barred by IAAF from running at the 2018 London World Championships over allegations that he might have contracted the contagious Noro Virus bug.

The nation watched with bleeding hearts as reports flooded across borders that Makwala was ruled out of the world 400m final. Makwala endured further heartache after being pulled out of the 200m heats and later went on a spotlight stealing a solo run in rainy weather.

After all the dust seemed to have settled over the mishap, that is when news surfaced that Coe would come to Botswana in 2018. The announcement compelled many to believe that Coe ‘s visit wouldshed light to Batswana an understanding of what exactly happened in London. However, Thari says for them, that is water under the bridge.

“Many think the IAAF president is coming for the Makwala issue, well, that is not the case, he had long promised that he will visit even before the London controversy,” Thari said. “That issue has been resolved and there is nothing more to it.

We dealt with the matter, even if we were to take it to court that would have happened at a later stage and Makwala would have missed his run,” he said.The BAA president went on to say that they did all they could and actually took pride in that they made history by ensuring that IAAF grants Makwala a special 200m qualification run.

The solo run saw Makwala beat the alleged stomach bug and qualified for the 200m final. Thari explained that instead, they need IAAF’s assistance to help develop athletics in Botswana. As one of the best performing codes in Botswana, Thari said it would come in handy if IAAF helps the local association with funding.

“We will show him a plot that we were long allocated but finding it hard to develop. We also need to reinforce grassroots development,” Thari said.

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GU welcomes Zapata at Rollers

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It would have been an intriguing welcome back to Botswana for Rodolfo Zapata if he were to lead the BTC premiership defending Champions Townships Rollers during their week 10 match against Gaborone United this coming Saturday at the national stadium.

However, Zapata who arrived in Botswana this past Saturday can only watch from the stands, as he is yet to be confirmed as head coach by the Rollers management. Rollers recently confirmed that they are in negotiations with the former Gaborone United coach.The passionate Argentine tactician has already met with the Rollers technical side and the players this week.

As of this past Tuesday, Sun Sports learnt that Zapata is yet to put pen to paper. “We are almost done with our negotiations and still processing his work permits. Only the government processes will determine how long he stays out,” said Rollers spokesperson, Bafana Pheto in an interview.

Pheto revealed that Zapata met the team on Tuesday morning during their training session. However, Zapata, played his cards close to his chest and said he will only comment after he signs a contract with Rollers.“I do not have all the details right now and I hope the Rollers management is working on my permits also,” he said.

Nevertheless, it would still be an emotional game for Zapata when he watches a team he used to coach play against a team he is expected to soon lead.Zapata dumped Gaborone United for a Kenyan side AFC Leopards back in April this year. Zapata had signed a two -year deal with the Kenyan side until about four weeks ago when he decided to leave.

Rollers were quick to show interest on the high profiled coach when their coach, Nikola Kavazovic shockingly decided to abandon the formidable side of Mapalastina early this month.Meanwhile Sun Sports has learnt that there might still be a standoff between GU management and Zapata.

Zapata has told this publication that GU has not paid him his dues yet. Nevertheless, GU is reported to still be nursing an open wound following Zapata’s decision to abandon the then sinking Money Machine.

It is alleged that Zapata has a running contract with GU until 2019 and there were certain procedures he had to follow as per the contract, “We cannot comment anything on the Zapata issue because it may have some legal implications.

We will wait for a time to sit down with Zapata and resolve our pending issues because Zapata has not even contacted us yet,” said GU chairman, Boitumelo Nsunge.

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