Vol.22 No.119

Monday 8 August 2005    

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Sport
End Of Illustrious Sporting Ties

Monkagedi Gaotlhobogwe
8/8/2005 3:09:37 PM (GMT +2)

To some, David Bright epitomised what government assisted football clubs under a very good tactician can do to community clubs. If all the institutional teams in the country were to be in the hands of a David Bright, there would be no future for community teams. Yet to some, Bright is an example of how good a local coach can be.


He came at a time when the most talked about coaches in the country were non-citizens. He did not go for big name non non-citizen players like other successful coaches. Bright quit Fighters after 14 years at the helm.

To a large extent, he proved that a team does not need star foreigners to win titles. He says he acquired a coaching licence in Gaborone in 1978 when a German consultant came to conduct a preliminary coaching course. From here, a series of coaching courses followed, leading to the attainment of an advanced coaching certificate in 1992. He trained in Brazil, whose football he cherishes. No wonder his team of 14 years, Mogoditshane Fighters used to dress like the Brazilian national team. While on attachment in Brazil in 1992 and 1996, Bright had the rare opportunity of coaching the likes of Bebeto, Romario, and Junior Baiano at Flamengo Santos. During the time, he says he was on a coaching attachment working with a translator at the famous Brazil club. At Vasco Da Gama, one of the top Brazilian sides, Bright says he met Edmundo.

"They used to rotate me around the clubs for weeks, and it was an experience for me. I also trained in Futsal, 5-aside-football, although it is not common in the country. Bright's samba inspired coaching has made him a household name in Botswana. He has an unmatched success in local football where he built Fighters into a formidable machine. He won the mini-league in 1999, and followed it up with the Coca-Cola Cup, the World Group Cup, and reached the finals of the Botswana Life Cup, in the same year. Bright and Fighters' moment of glory had arrived.

In the 1999-2001 league season, Fighters clinched the league title, the Coca-Cola Cup, and reached the World Group finals. They clinched the league again the following year. Fighters seemed unstoppable and perhaps something had to give. The team had to be stopped. So it was no surprise that loud protests started against government assisted sides. Some people believe that the wrangling that besieged local football in 2001 was all about jealousy centred on Fighters' successes. Before 1999, the Mogoditshane club was an average side. Not that the team was new in the game for it had been in the top league as far back as 1992.

But a restructuring in 1996-97 eventually saw Fighters up their game to sit at the apex of local football. It was not an easy road for Bright though. He had joined the side in 1992 in the First Division after he was demoted along with several players just after winning his first Premier League trophy with BDF XI in 1991. The squad he assembled at BDF XI when he won the league was probably the most feared ever. The attack was made up of the likes of Zambians Themba Lunga and Abram Mubanga, assisted by two of the most feared attackers in the country, Cocorico Mmese and Christopher Mbaakanyi. Jalopi Kopi, with his speed and eyes for goals, was also a menace. In the midfield, Zara Ramanoko had no equal. Bright is proud that in 1991 he became the first coach to win the newly introduced Super League. BDF XI had just recalled him from Tlokweng United, after then head coach, Six Keatlholetswe, left for a six months coaching course in Germany.

Bright had to make way for Keatlholetswe when he returned and was instructed along with four BDF XI players who had lost form, to go and work with Mogoditshane Fighters, in the First Division under Shadow Mogapaesi. He recalls that it was like he was being offloaded along with the four players, Jalopi Kopi, Themba Lunga, Peace Marobane and Tornado Bokole, when he was sent away. However, as fate would have it, Bright helped Fighters gain promotion to top-flight football although their stay was short-lived.

The team was praised for its sexy football but it baffled the mind why they would not score. The same year, Bright and Fighters were relegated. When they finally reappeared in 1996, Fighters had some of the most exciting youngsters in the league. Barney Marman in the heart of midfield was a true general. Bright then went for some exciting youngsters in Masego Nchingane, Omphitlhetse Tlhobogang, Mpho Mabogo, Edwin Disang, Shimane Ntshweu, Mogogi Gabonamong, Mompati Thuma and Kagiso Tshelametsi. These new players fused well with others like Donald Thobega, Kenny Sakala, and Modesto Chilundumene. Nchingane, Marman, and Dunga controlled the midfield with ease and Bright had the most effective wingers in Ntshweu and Disang. The back four of Sakala, Thobega, Gabonamong, and Moremi Phadi was the most stable, while in Tshelametsi, Bright had the most reliable goalkeeper in the country.

"We had the support from the army, the boys ate well from the BDF. Sometimes we would have two training sessions a day. It was more like a semi-professional set up. Local football needs this type of set up to improve. When we were getting results, people got jealous. Instead of working hard to emulate us, civilian teams wished for our downfall."

Indeed the downfall did occur. Under pressure from community teams, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) ordered the police and the army to support only one team. The consequences were severe. Fighters no longer had the luxury of feeding at the army cafeteria or using army buses. The funding they used to enjoy from the army also ceased. Some players had to choose between work and play as they could no longer be rewarded or promoted on the basis of sport.

While some joined BDF XI, others concentrated on their army careers. Only a handful remained behind to help Fighters. In 2002, Fighters lost Disang and Nchingane when they went to study overseas. That year, Bright finished the league in second position after BDF XI. They won the Coca-Cola Cup in 2003 but finished fourth in the league. Bright sees himself as someone who has been maturing with time.

He first did his coaching at Sebele United between 1983 and 1985 before he was transferred to Selebi Phikwe where he worked with Peter Baker at Copper Chiefs. In 1991, he guided Tlokweng United to Gilbey's Cup final and lost 2-1 to Township Rollers.

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