FRANCISTOWN: Twenty-six year old Seemo Mpatane has achieved a rare feat after becoming the youngest coach to guide a Division One team to the First Division North (FDN) league promotion play-offs.
Mpatane is the sole owner and coach of Eleven Angels who were recently crowned Division One champions in the Francistown region and in the process qualified for the FDN play-offs to be played in a fortnight. In Division One, Angels were up against well-known and established teams like TASC, Amakhosi and Sladden Eagles.
“I am proud of what I have achieved as a young coach and football club owner, but (the) ultimate goal is to see the team competing in the Premier League in the near future.
“Based on how things have penned out in the team I am confident that I can achieve that. What I have done and the rest of the team so far is very exciting, but I do not want to get carried away and lose focus,” said an optimistic Mpatane.
Despite his heroics, Mpatane who played football at school level, said he never harboured any intensions of going into full-time coaching.
“After completing my senior secondary school in 2010, I decided to group young boys and coach them as a way of passing time while pondering on my next move. After a while I became convinced that I could be a good coach and I have never looked back since then. Coaching gives me a lot of fulfilment and I am confident that one day it will reward me financially. Right now, it is all about gaining experience.” He explained that he started playing football under Ntime Ntime (who won the Coke Cup with TAFIC in 2002) at Aerodrome Primary School and went on to play under Odisitse Palmers at Mmei Junior Secondary School. “I used to watch them closely at training. I applied what they taught me in my initial years as a coach before I acquired my coaching qualifications.”
Ntime is known to be passionate about playing attractive football. Mpatane now holds a CAF preliminary coaching licence and a FIFA elite youth coaching certificate. “I want to acquire a CAF C and B licence in the next few years. Having top level qualifications is essential if one wants to succeed as a coach. I also see myself coaching any of the national youth teams in future, which is why I feel it is vital to have strong coaching qualifications.”
Mpatane also holds a Diploma in Marketing from Baisago University. Mpatane initially established Angels with Martin Nyathi before the latter pulled out to pursue other interests. Eleven Angels was formed in 2013/14 season and campaigned in the Third Division for one season before winning promotion to Division One.
The team first caught the attention of Francistown football fans when it nearly caused an upset against TAFIC in the Independence Cup late in 2016. Angels lost the quarterfinal match on penalties although they played most of the second half a man down against a star studded TAFIC.
Before registering the team, Mpatane and Nyathi owned two separate clubs that participated in the less recognised
Despite the spectacular rise of the club to stardom, the 26-year-old maintains that running a football team is not an easy task. He said one has to contend with transporting the players and making sure that they have food for camps amongst others and these come at a huge cost.
“I am glad that those who have been supporting with funds have been doings so consistently although we still need more funds to take the club to a more desirable height. The team is stable and it is well run, which I believe is worth investing in, by sponsors. The positive feedback from the people of Francistown also keeps me going despite financial problems that I often come across,” said the young coach.
Some of Eleven Angels’ key sponsors include veteran UDC member Shatiso Tambula and Goitseone Taolo who works at Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital. Mpatane attributes the rise of his team to experience in his side.
“My players have been together for sometime and in the process gained a lot of experience. This enabled us to fight for honours this season. Our wish is to be in the Premier League in the next two or three years.” Mpatane said the supporters have been phenomenal and the team has been able to attract attention due to its brand of football. Angels play their home games at Leseding grounds but train at Area S near the Francistown Council Stadium. The club also has a youth team, which features those aged between 11 and 16 years.
The coach also noted that the team has maintained its philosophy of developing future players, a development not practised by many regional teams around the country.
So far the team has three players who turn out for junior national teams. Freedom Nhliziyo is in the national Under-20 while Gofaone Mabaya is part of the Under-17 set up.
Some Angels stars who previously played in the junior national team are Bakang Mpatane who was with the Under-15, Quinton Mokoka, Bose Tafa and Benjamin Josiah who played for the Under 17. Molaodi Tlhalefo who plays for Green Lovers and Miscellaneous’ Fortune Tlhularo are some of the players who were once on the books of Angels.
Mpatane also indicated that he is trying to work on a viable model that can result in the club generating its own income. Division One league chairperson, Fanyana Fish is not surprised by Angels’ exploits. “They are a very motivated and focused side. They are also so organised something which we seldom see in a league that does not have sponsors. I see a brighter future for the team. My wish is to see sponsors supporting clubs like them otherwise they will end up folding,” he said.