Township Rollers fan and Mmegi Staffer, LESANG MASWABI has some sympathy for the demoted Notwane. He recalls how accommodating the Toronto fans were compared to sworn rivals, Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Gaborone United. But he argues the teamâ€™s demotion could be what the doctor prescribed
And so the Botswana Premier League (BPL) curtains finally came down as we witnessed the Botswana’s number one ‘Houdini’ football club and beneficiary of some of BPL’s boardroom shenanigans, eventually bowing out to the inevitable when the axe that they had so artfully dodged for ages, fell on them.
How sad for a team that boasted being a key part of one of the Botswana’s oldest recreational societies. Established in 1965, Notwane football club, otherwise affectionately known as Toronto is part of Notwane Club situated just outside the National Stadium.
The social club that has also paid host to sporting codes like tennis and netball, is one of the earliest landmarks of the city of Gaborone.
For years when relegation came knocking at their door, the team and their fans would always get all sorts of arsenal ready to defend their territory in anticipation of the worst eventuality.
And indeed they had mastered the art of dodging; probably even better than the skilful Floyd Mayweather and Houdini himself combined, as witnessed from some seasons when they would either just luckily scrape through or at worst sneak in to survive the chop.
But, it seemed it would only be a matter of time before the dreaded episode became a reality. Now poor “Notty” fans have to live with that reality of not only having to watch their beloved team play at the feared and uncharted territories of lower division, but also have to fathom the thought of going to cheer their club from the shrubs and dusty grounds of “kwa ditholeng”. For they had hardly imagined their much hyped and touted establishment, which they had always regarded as “team ya Ma-cat” - loosely translated to mean the yuppies’ team, ever having to take the drop from the elite league.
Even more painfully so in this scenario, would be the realism of having to surrender their own famous spectators’ stand that forms part of the historical Big-Three of the National Stadium.
I am obviously not a Notwane supporter as I have always been a Township Rollers aka Popa follower since I got endeared to local soccer in the mid 70s. However, I have always rather had a soft spot for Notwane over our two fiercest rivals: Gaborone United and Mochudi Centre Chiefs.
This was at a time whenever I was not in the company of my parents, me together with a throng of other local boys would drift towards the then old National Stadium. Upon arrival, we would either sneak through the mis-jointed iron-sheets that formed part of the fencing around the stadium or just “squeeze” through the legs of the elderly spectators by the stadium’s entrances.
This squeezing business was also common at such popular places like the Capitol Cinema at The Mall - the very first of the Capitol franchises around the city owned by the Desai family.
The story of Notwane for me is one of a bitter-sweet pill to swallow. Bitter because Notwane fans had always been more sociable by accommodating or welcoming to their own stand, fans from even some of their fiercest opposition teams.
Thus they will be solely missed in the season (s) that they would not be competing with the country’s best. On the other hand, sweet because this may be just what the doctor ordered for Notwane since their counterparts and two of the city’s giants, Rollers and GU also went down the same path but came back even more determined to fight for the league and clinch the ultimate prize. Sechaba should take this time for some serious introspection, regroup to become a formidable force ready to reclaim its former glory and upon its return to the Premier League, rather strive to be champions instead of always fighting to survive the chop.
Yes, I know some of their staunch followers like my buddies Tlhaloso Semausu and Meshack Tamocha are jumpy of the perils that befell the once star-studded and flamboyant Black Peril that got relegated to the lower divisions in the early 90s and never smelt Premier League action until only recently.
But Notwane may just as well borrow from one the greatest sportsmen to have ever graced the universe. A true champion himself, Muhammad Ali once said, “It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up”. He would go on to quip, “Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
Talking to the club’s spokesperson Ace Podi Mooki says; “It is a pity that this unfortunate scenario is unfolding at a time when we are about to launch a series of events to raise funds for the 50th anniversary celebration of our club.”