A Royalty that should not be kicking dust

Mochudi centre chiefs players. PIC PHATSIMO KAPENG
Mochudi centre chiefs players. PIC PHATSIMO KAPENG

A chief is a revered figure in most African societies. Back in the day, chiefs would be carried around in some wooden chair. A commoner would even take responsibility or ownership when the chief breaks the wind.

But there is no respect for chiefs in football. In football, a chief is responsible for his own actions and is not carried around as a sign of respect and honour. The chief is beaten, stomped and left for dead. Respect and honour is earned on the pitch, it’s not hereditary. In football, democracy, where the rule of all is equal before the law, prevails. Royalty matters little. Mochudi Centre Chiefs, local football’s royalty, can attest to that. The decorated Kgatleng side is kicking dust in the less fashionable First Division league.

Their fans, one of the most passionate, are forced to sing victory songs amid rising clouds of dust in the sweltering heat. Some carry a quart of their favourite beverage to quench their thirst as they belt out tune after tune with the hope it will spur their side back to the Premier League venues, where there are VIP sections, covered stands and bucket seats. In lower division grounds, VIP treatment is alien. It’s a one size fits all where hands are used as umbrellas to shield fans from the effects of the sun.

A downpour leaves the pitch muddy and often results in the abandonment of the match.

It’s a perfect set-up for the hoi polloi. But it is not the ideal situation for a club that was, together with Township Rollers, the most consistent between 2008 and 2015. Chiefs’ demise saw them relegated to competing in the second tier, and they have been more than willing participants, failing to return to the Premier League in recent seasons. But there is a glimmer of hope this season. Chiefs’ elite league dreams have been rekindled and the fans are back in large numbers.

There is a circulating video showing hordes of Chiefs fans thumping the dusty ground and in full voice on Saturday. It is both refreshing and worrying. Refreshing in the sense that hordes of Chiefs fans are back to support their team, but worrying in that it is not the ideal place for such football royalty. Chiefs don’t belong to the First Division. It is an uneven pairing. Yes, all animals are equal but it still remains a mystery how an institution like Chiefs has been reduced to going toe-to-toe with the likes of Taung Young Strikers or traveling to Kang to fulfil a league fixture. Chiefs now celebrate playing at the National Stadium; that feeling of being in a plane for the first time.

Therefore, the return of Chiefs to the Premier League is non-negotiable. Remember Gaborone United and Township Rollers’ demotions to the First Division. They had to return by hook or crook when the Premier League was controversially expanded to 16-teams. Nothing implied but let the Chiefs take their royal seat among football’s elite. Imagine a league with a competitive Extension Gunners, Gaborone United, Township Rollers, TAFIC and Notwane. It’s a recipe for excitement and every potential sponsor’s dream.

Editor's Comment
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