Young Turks rise up to the coaching challenge


The world over, football coaches are getting younger by the day; the days of grey-haired tacticians are fast being relegated to the dustbins of history as young turks rise to the challenge. Botswana has not been left behind in this revolution, writes Mmegi Sport’s MQONDISI DUBE and KABELO BORANABI

The conveyor belt churning out coaches has rather been slow at the Botswana Football Association (BFA), only gathering pace in recent years. With only three coaches holding the CAF A licence, and none with a Pro Licence, it has been rather a subdued period at Lekidi Centre.

However, the arrival of BFA technical director, Letsoaka Serame has seen the association pick pace, with a number of coaches in line to be upskilled.But even before the upskilling process reaches a crescendo, there has been a refreshing shift, with young coaches raising a firm hand to replace the ‘aging fleet’. Botswana now has a proud record of the youngest coach to handle an international assignment after Alex Malete, at just 29 years, five weeks and 35 days, sat on the bench when Botswana played Namibia in an Olympic Games qualifier last weekend.

Already, the BTC Premiership has been freshened with relatively young blood, as most of the coaches are in their early to mid-40s.  Even some of the imports are relatively young, with former Township Rollers coach, Nikola Kavazovic arriving in the country when he was 41, while Jwaneng Galaxy’s Miguel da Costa was 36 when he took over the diamond mining town side. Even in the women’s game, young coaches are the new game changers, with Matlhogonolo Mokgosi, 27, handling UB Kicks.Below are some of the promising ‘tactical brains’ emerging from Botswana, who are expected to receive the baton from the old guard.

Alex Malete

He recently made history by becoming the youngest African coach to lead an international team last Friday at just 29 years, five weeks and 35 days. He led the Mares in the first leg of the 2020 Olympic games qualifiers and capped his debut with a 1-0 over Namibia. Malete has been involved in the women’s game since 2012 with UB Kicks and Double Action. He guided Double Action to the six Inter-Regional title that involved teams from Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana in 2017. A year later he won the CUCSA silver medal with the women’s team.

Malete holds a CAF C licence and is currently undergoing a CAF B licence course. The youngster was handed his big break when he was appointed Gaborone United physical trainer in December last year, but left to join Sharps Shooting Stars as the second assistant coach in January.  He is also a development coach at the Dipsy Selowane Football Academy.


Seemo Mpatane

Mpatane is relatively unknown name in the football circles, but he is a man steadily making a name for himself in the northern parts of the country.  He is the founder and the head coach of the First Division North league side, Eleven Angels.  At just 26 years, he is the youngest head coach in the top two tier leagues.  Eleven Angels were formed in 2013-2014 season and campaigned in the Third Division for one season before winning promotion to Division One. He gained promotion to the First Division after winning the playoffs last season. His side currently sits fourth with 27 points, with just two games remaining. Mpatane is still acquiring his coaching badges, with a CAF preliminary coaching licence and a FIFA elite youth coaching certificate.


Pontsho Moloi

Also known as Piro, Moloi is one of the latest football legends to move up to coaching ranks. Upon retiring in 2015, Moloi assumed the role of second assistant coach role at Mochudi Centre Chiefs where he worked along side head coach, Bongani Mafu and Innocent Mafu. A four-time championship winner, Piro started off as assistant coach at Chiefs where he deputised both Innocent Morapedi and Philani Mabhena.

He left Magosi to join Gunners as an assistant coach to Enosi Mmesi. The 37-year-old was appointed Gunners’ head coach in January following the departure of Mmesi. He has since won four, lost another four while played to a draw twice in 10 games in charge.  His side sits in fourth spot with 35 points and just four games left.  He is currently the youngest coach in the elite league. Moloi can emulate South Africa’s Benni McCarthy, who is tipped for bigger things, including a future Bafana Bafana role.


Ndiyapo Letsholathebe

The former Zebras and Police XI tough-as-teak defender has been handed the reigns at police side, Great North Tigers.

Letsholathebe holds a CAF C Licence, and is expected to bring back the glory days at the former Premier League side.

He had a stellar career at Police XI and was part of the Zebras team that represented Botswana at its maiden Africa Cup of Nations finals appearance in 2012.

“I am settling well in my coaching role. Obviously there are a few challenges (especially when it comes to decision making and managing players) because it is my first head-coaching role. I am working with a few people who have been at the club for sometime. They are helping me to adjust. I am ready for the challenge,” the 36-year-old told Mmegi Sport this week.

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