Ketshidile Matenanga is a regular feature for BDF Cheetahs and the national rugby side, the Vultures.
At 36-years-old, just like ‘Boxer’ in the classic political satire, Animal Farm, he is one of the oldest but hard working players in Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) Super Rugby league.
Tomorrow, Matenanga will step into the Wharic Park turf to play his eighth rugby final against Gaborone Hogs.
He has enjoyed rugby since his days as a junior secondary school student in Maun.
“I was fortunate that we had a television set so when my family was not watching anything I would have a chance to watch rugby around 1996. This new discovery was interesting. Unlike other boys, I did not have interest in football,” he said.
Matenanga said in 2001, rugby was introduced at Tsodilo Junior Secondary School. He started playing the sport in Form Two and his new love continued when he went to Maun Senior Secondary School. “When I was recruited by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), unfortunately there was no rugby team at Thebephatshwa base where I was based. In 2008, we formed a club called Desert Whales. The club was a force to reckon with and we played in the B Division league and the following season, we gained promotion to A Division,” he said.
The side was doing well and they once played against Cheetahs and lost by one try. Whales were chopped together with Francistown Sharks when BDF decided to reduce its involvement in sport. The decision saw Matenanga invited to join Cheetahs at the SSKB.He started playing as a loose forward, eighth man and flanker.
“Most people say I play all positions. When there is a shortage in the backline, I assist. My position is flank and, with other positions, I would just be assisting,” Matenanga said.
He said since joining Cheetahs, he has always been in the starting line up, unless when suspended or injured.
Matenanga said playing for Cheetahs comes with a lot of pressure, starting from high-ranking officers because as soldiers they are given enough time to train.
“Our superiors expect a win from us all the time. We have no excuse because our focus is only on rugby,” he said. Matenanga said the highly physical sport exposes players to injuries and to avoid them, fitness levels should be high.
“When you want to tackle an opponent, do not be afraid, go for it with all you have. Do not panic,” he added.
Meanwhile, talking about the weekend final, the flanker said playing Hogs is always tricky. He said Hogs have a strong backline who run the entire game.
“They are a youthful side and for you to keep up, you should be strong. We should prove that their win last year was a fluke or not. Those boys can embarrass you when they sidestep you. It brings fear,” he said with a laugh.
Matenanga observed that Hogs are a 7s team and they play 7s style.
Full name: Ketshidile Matenanga
Date of birth: April 9, 1983
Club: BDF Cheetahs