Rollers, Chiefs rivalry needs to be kept in check
Friday, 06 July, 2012Banter in sports is what makes rivalries so interesting. But there is a limit to which rivalry should go up to, to avoid major confrontations.
As some would say, there can never be two bulls in one kraal, and where there are two bulls in one kraal, they in most cases have to be restrained and kept away from each other. The rivalry between two of Botswana’s top teams Township Rollers and Mochudi Centre Chiefs, although good for football, at times really gets unnecessarily out of hand and should be kept in check.
These two teams need to be reigned in so that they contribute positively towards the development of football in Botswana, and not what currently obtains. Their rivalry has shrouded the two teams thinking and in most cases what each team does is based mainly and solely on bitterness, revenge and spiting the other team. There has been so many instances where this has been evident but the recent episode when the teams converged at one venue for a fixture would not have happened if it did not involve the two teams. Had there been an alteration on the fixtures and Centre Chiefs was moved to another venue for another team, they would have gladly moved; no drama; but since it was Township Rollers, no, they could not stomach the fact that they were being moved to SSKB stadium to make way for Township Rollers. After all Premier League fixtures are altered every week and venues changed, so it was not the first time and will probably not be the last time. For me, the lame excuse that they were originally fixtured at UB stadium before the chan. The problem was just that it was Township Rollers they were being asked to move for. Same as when a Township Rollers player wanted to join Centre Chiefs earlier this season. Popa wanted to release Shoes Godirwang but when he wanted to move to Centre Chiefs, e bo e nna mathata. Rollers were more than happy to release Shoes to any other team, but when the player instead opted for Centre Chiefs, it ignited a confrontation. That is the order of the day between the two teams; that is their modus operandi, they operate on a negative tit for tat basis. These incidents have not been forgotten. It is rare for a player to swap these teams without any drama. For me this is plain absurdity, and this should be kept in check, lest it becomes an unnecessary obstacle to football development in the country. Just wait for the transfer window to open and guess who will be in the news for the wrong reasons.
Township Rollers and Mochudi Centre Chiefs are two of the biggest teams in Botswana Football. In recent years Centre Chiefs have grown in leaps and bounds, both on and off the field. This is a threat to Township Rollers dominance, who for years have been comfortable as the in thing. And then along came Centre Chiefs, the new kid on the block who is the in thing, hip and in fashion. It is fashionable to support Center Chiefs these days, after all they are always winning. Who doesn’t want to be associated with a winning team? Nowadays players want to play for Centre Chiefs over Township Rollers and these days Centre Chiefs is the most attractive team, especially to the youngsters. It therefore follows that there will be a fierce rivalry between the two. Although rivalry cannot be avoided, irresponsibility can. Just because we are rivals doesn’t mean we should always be at war and hell bent on spiting each other. Some things need to be avoided at all costs, lest they turn into something else that we would not want. Township Rollers is the most decorated, most supported and most successful team ever in Botswana Football. This assertion is based on championships won, cups won, the history of the team and the magnitude at which the team is supported throughout the country. Some say in every family, there is at least one Township Rollers supporter. Mochudi Centre Chiefs is the new kid on the block and wants to take away the limelight, and they are doing a pretty good job of it. One can compare this rivalry with the Manchester United/Manchester City rivalry in England. Just recently Sir Alex Ferguson took a jibe at Manchester City after they won the Championship, saying Manchester City still have 18 more titles to win if they are to be on par with Manchester United, Township Rollers can say the same and say Centre Chiefs needs to win 10 more League titles to be on par with them. Fair enough; but having someone threaten your dominance doesn’t mean you should hate them to a point where you are always thinking about spiting them.
Township Rollers feel threatened that there is somewhat of a potent, credible challenge to their dominance. Centre Chiefs on the other hand feel they are on par if not bigger than Township Rollers. Everything that happens between the two teams is bound to explode, thus the hostility. Even a simple transfer of a player between the two teams never happens without any drama. Who can ever forget the drama when Sekhana Koko, Jomo Moatlhaping, Joel Mogorosi, Bobby Mathe, Tshepiso Kgosiemang swapped these sides. These are just recent examples, I could go on and on with other examples. The transfers were unnecessarily shrouded in controversy as the other team cannot stand having their player moving to the other team. At times it becomes really absurd, childish and plain stupid. Excuse the harsh word. The rivalry and the ever brewing tension between the teams’ management rubs off onto the supporters. You just have to listen to radio call in shows and visit some of the social network sites to see the extent of the rivalry. At times I get scared. There is a difference between usual football banter, and plain provocation.
Both teams are close to my heart in different ways, but at times I feel they are an unwanted irritant that should be gotten rid off. Tip-toeing around them and their misdemeanors by our football administrators is not helping the situation. With their financial muscle, support and appeal, Township Rollers and Centre Chiefs should instead of always being unnecessarily at war with each other focus on such things that could improve football in Botswana; such things as erecting mini stadium facilities, investing time and resources in youth development, and giving back to the community. That is way better than being going to war unnecessarily.