Grooming superstars

SHARE   |   Monday, 31 October 2016   |   By Ontametse Sugar
Mpofu (INSERT) and young players Mpofu (INSERT) and young players

Grooming soccer stars is something Lovemore Mpofu lives by; far from the appeal of monetary gain. Mpofu started his soccer school in 1998 in Gaborone West when he decided to take many young kids from the street and keep them busy with football. He has never looked back. At the moment Mpofu has 65 kids that he teaches football every day. These are kids of different categories from U-13, U-17, U-20 and the senior team. He remembers very well that he started after seeing many idling young kids in Gaborone West. “I loved football so much. Our house has always been a place where young boys gather to watch the game,” he said. He said from 1998 to 2000 he was just playing with them in the pitch, but then in 2000 his friends encouraged him to form his own team.

He registered his team as Top Stars. From there things got serious. Among his graduates are the Eskimos band members who are now one of the best Kwaito groups in the country. Zain of Eskimos was the first player to captain Top Stars. “I made tournaments and everyone supported us because we were really growing and that is when we affiliated to Botswana Football Association (BFA),” he said. Since by then he was just dealing with young boys only, it became a problem when they reached the age of 17 because since he did not have a big team where they can develop further. Big teams then poached these players from him. He then started taking them to a team called City Polar in the Kgatleng Region in Division 2 so that they can be able to develop further. He said they made that team very competitive. “In a nutshell I can say that Top Stars feeds City Polar with most players, and that has been working incredibly well for our young players,” he said.

Right now he boasts of producing players like Lesego Molemogi, Pelontele Lerole, Tapiwa Gadibolae, Kamogelo Molemogi, Prince Mooketsi, Tiroyaone Maome and Pelalelo Tlhabano who are now in the premier league with different team. He said he always have his products in the different national teams. Some have participated in the under 17 games in South Africa and the COPA cup that was held in Gaborone. Despite all his great work, Mpofu has been using his resources. He keeps a day job, meaning that he only trains the kids after work because the youngsters desperately look to him to turn them into superstars. He said only good Samaritans who recognise the work that he is doing for the community tends to help him like Moitsheki Lekalake and Ruta Mpetle who make sure that they help in providing the kits, balls and other equipment for him since they believe in the good course. “Most of them come from families that are struggling, but these kids love football so we need all the help that we can get,” he said.

He said his ground has become popular and he does not only have kids from Gaborone West only but from all over Gaborone and neighbouring areas like Tlokweng, Kopong, and Mmopane. Parents religiously bring their children for training. His vision is to see all these young boys that he grooms having their own team in the premier league, and that is why he is continuing feed City Polars so that they can be promoted to the bigger league. He recognised BFA for its help, and he appreciated national team coach Peter Butler for including him and helping him groom these young boys. Butler sometimes takes the players to just drill them further. Mpofu said the likes of Oris Radipotsane, Botswana’s stars Mogakolodi Ngele and Pontsho Moloi always make time to come and impart their skills and inspire the youngsters.