Keitumetse 'Pio' Paul recently achieved a rare feat after taking two sides, Sharps Shooting Stars and Notwane to the top flight in successive seasons. While his credentials are undoubted, Paul is seen as an uncompromising coach, but in this interview, with Mmegi Sport's MQONDISI DUBE typical of his character, he pulls no punches, as he takes aim at the game’s administrators
Mmegi Sport: What does it mean to take two teams to the Premiership in successive seasons?
Pio Paul: I am happy because it is very rare, regardless, it’s the First Division. There are no resources in the First Division. It is not easy to coach, which means that when you achieve it, you are doing something special.
Last year, I achieved it with Sharps, although they did not treat me well, but you take negatives and turn them into positives. Notwane is a big brand, when you look at the history of the team. It makes me proud because a number of coaches tried to take the team back but failed, I did it at the first attempt.
Mmegi Sport: Are you not afraid that what happened at Sharps will happen to you at Notwane?
Paul: It might happen, but I am now used to that. All this comes from the Botswana Football Association (BFA). There is corruption at BFA, some people are there to discredit some of us who are genuine football people. They claim to be football servants but they are not. I do not want to be exploited, I am not vulnerable. I am not there to beg people.
Mmegi Sport: Are you a difficult person to work with?
Paul: I don’t take nonsense. I am not a difficult person to work with. I worked with Joseph Ramotshabi at BMC, the club got its first cup (Coca-Cola Cup) under me. I have worked well with several people, including (Tebogo) Sebego (Notwane president). Even though he was there (at BFA) during my unfair dismissal as Under-23 coach, we spoke. I know what transpired.
He was a leader but there are people who are not technical, who were eager to see me expelled. As a leader he had to be the messenger. The coach (Peter Butler) was paid a lot of money but as the assistant, there was a huge gap. I queried the unfair treatment. I will complain and ask them why they put me at Gaborone Sun and pay a lot of money, instead of paying me that money.
But you know people when you query, they do not want to be challenged, and they say you are difficult. You can’t expect me to do the job that I was, doing with my qualifications,
Mmegi Sport: Anything agreed with Notwane beyond this season?
Paul: My contract ends at the end of May, but we are talking. Specifically, I was called by Sebego.
If you make an agreement with the club (and not individual) that’s where the problem is. If it’s the club, tomorrow, instead of paying you, they will tell you that we have not played Rollers (or any crowd pulling club). That’s not in the contract. Sebego is the one who called me, and he said he would be responsible for what has been agreed. It’s healthier that way.
Mmegi Sport: Did Sebego hint that they will keep you beyond this campaign?
Paul: He made it clear that he had been asked by the elders of the team (to take Notwane back to the Premier League), so he has to go back to them.
Mmegi Sport: What challenges do local coaches face?
Paul: Club administrators do not respect us. Recently, one of the local coaches told me that he was told by one administrator that he won’t hire a local coach. Then you ask yourself what is the person doing at the Premier League when he is also a Motswana.
They always benchmark, why do they benchmark when they can’t do simple things tsa club licensing. We can do well if we are supported like foreign coaches, we have capable Batswana. It’s sad what is happening to Teenage Mpote at Rollers. He is a coach, but he is compared to a former player. If he stands up, he will be told gore gaana botho, nna these are things which I do not accept.
Mmegi Sport: So what is the solution to these challenges?
Paul: We need a total clean-out at the Premier League and BFA. There are people who have been there for a long time. They need to vacate. It’s a shock to hear that players go for four months without pay. So we need a clean-out, they have done their part; they must vacate. You appoint a 65-year-old as Under-20 coach, a foreigner for that matter. FIFA says Under-14 and 20 should be for locals, it should be for development. I am not scared of them. They have discredited me for long.