PALAPYE: The football fraternity has paid glowing tribute to the late Green Lovers owner and coach, Onthusitse ‘Chips’ Kootswele, who passed away this week due to suspected cardiac arrest
Former Botswana Football Associtation administrator, Fobby Radipotsane said the death of “Chips“ was a setback to football development in the country.
Kootswele was known for his commitment to developing and nurturing talent.
The former Miscellaneous captain had belief in working with younger players and made it a club culture at his side to lead with youngsters.
He was rewarded for his commitment to development with an appointment to the national Under-17 side as an assistant coach.
Radipotsane, who was an ally of Kootswele through their respective development teams, believes the Lovers coach’s had a lot to offer.
“He just did half of his plans as far as development of players was concerned,” he said. “Development comes with great financial challenges, but because of the love for player development, he persevered. It was fulfilling for him to watch his players stand their own on the big stages.”
Radipotsane said considering Kootswele’s achievements, he was a massive loss to Green Lovers and the nation. He fears the Serowe side would find it difficult to find an individual with the same zeal for youthful players.
“He instilled bravery in a young side and left a mark in the Premier League. He was a man known for his distinct style of football. He embedded a culture at Green Lovers and his death leaves a massive gap,” Radipotsane eulogised
First Division North chairperson, Jonas Ikgopoleng remembers Kootswele as a beacon of knowledge of Botswana football. He said they survived tough times due to his encouragement.
“He is a huge loss in the north. He lived his dream of modern football, and he had an eye for talent. He was a football father with great experience. He was a constructive critic and advisor,” Ikgopoleng said.
He said at this time when they were struggling with
“He accepted tough situations and encouraged others. He will be remembered for a lot of good things he did for football.”
Some of the players who flourished under Kootswele include former Green Lovers captain, Rentse Keakabetse who now plays for Gaborone United
Keakabetse said his former mentor took him into the development side when he was nine-years-old. It was at a time just after he had lost his own father who had passed away.
“He played that father figure to me and he contributed immensely to my upbringing. He had so much trust in me and he taught me leadership hence he gave me the captaincy of his team. I owe it to him,” Keakabetse said.
“He made us believe. He had a vision of taking a group from the development to the Premiership, and he achieved the dream. We took Green Lovers from second division to the First Division and Premiership with the same team he developed.”
Thatayaone Kgamanyane, who had a brief stint at Lovers under the tutelage of Kootswele, said he learnt mostly life lessons from the departed coach. In his season-long stay at Lovers, he stayed at Chips’ house.
“He saw talent in me. He took me into his house and introduced me to the Premiership. I remember him as a principled man. At his house, he watched only the German football league, if it was not playing he watched cricket.”
Amongst a host of other players that passed through the ranks of the Green Submarine are Wagarre Dikago of Township Rollers, Tumo Ketsitile who plays at Prisons XI, Pako Gaofose of Security Systems, Moathodi Ralesotla BDF XI and Resaobaka Thatanyane at Jwaneng Galaxy.