BFA president Tebogo Sebego has sent a strong warning to Township Rollers’ supporters to protect the integrity of their brand as they go into this Saturday’s Annual General Meeting at Gaborone West Community Hall.
Rollers is a big brand, said Sebego, bigger than the supporters! He cautioned them to put aside their personal differences and focus on what would benefit the club. And not only this, he says, they must “protect” the commercialisation process that the club has embarked on, which enjoys the blessing of the association.
“There are players and families who are dependent and benefiting from the commercialisation of the game,” he advised, adding that it is imperative for the supporters to look at the bigger picture, which is the benefit of the team. Sebego’s strong message follows the unfortunate incident that played out this past weekend in Molepolole when Rollers’ supporters threatened to beat up a fellow member after the team lost to BR Highlanders.
Sebego has also wished Rollers well in their AGM but reiterated that his wish is to see a legitimate committee being elected to run the team without any compromise to the commercialisation project.
The genesis of the Rollers’ conflict
Divisions within Rollers supporters’ camp started in 2013 at the Civic Centre when instead of addressing the issue in contention - that the club was being mismanaged and the constitution trampled upon - supporters went for each other’s throats.
A bloodbath was avoided when officers from central police station intervened and dispersed the supporters. But it was only the beginning. A section of the supporters took the matter to the courts of law, which would a year later return a favourable verdict calling for the regularisation of the club as per the Society’s Act.
It is that ruling which has continued to haunt and polarise the supporters and nearly caused bloodshed last Saturday had it not been for the intervention of Molepolole police and other security personnel.
The Orlando Pirates example
The recent developments in Rollers camp are a classic example of the teething problems the South African premier league side, Orlando Pirates, experienced in its journey to turn professional. The club split three times due to infightings and in the process gave birth to Kaizer Chiefs, Black Pirates and eventually Jomo Cosmos.
Sadly and tragically at one point, supporters stabbed one of the Pirates’ executive members China Hlongwane at Ellis Park when he had brought another faction of the team into the field while Pirates was playing against Sono’s Jomo Cosmos. He was stabbed countless times in the full view of spectators and television viewers.
Any similar mishap should be avoidable this weekend should stakeholders take heed of the BFA president’s words. Besides, the Gaborone West police station is expected to be on guard given the experience of 2013 and last weekend.