As the 2018/19 BTC Premiership race picks pace, last season’s runners up – Jwaneng Galaxy FC – have made their intentions clear by scoring 10 goals in two games while keeping a clean sheet. STAFF WRITER DITIRO MOTLHABANE chats to club chairman Njabulo Gilika
How were your preparations for this season?
GILIKA: The preparations went very well. Our recruitment was strategic to bring balance in to the team and continuity. We went for young players who can keep the club going for a long time and challenge for honours. We had our preseason starting here at home and eventually went to SA for our final conditioning and friendly game. The team is ready to compete.
Are there any changes to your technical team?
GILIKA: A new coach has arrived after the expiry of the short-term contract we had with Zlatko Krimpotic, our previous coach. Miguel Da Costa Duarte is our new head coach. Modiri Marumo has also joined as a goalkeeper coach. The previous goalkeeper coach Charles Mokwadi has been redeployed to a different role.
Last year you came very close to winning the league title; you actually pushed it down to the wire. What went wrong, how did you lose in the very last games? How do you plan to avoid the same calamity and emerge champions at the end of 2018/19?
GILIKA: We gave it away when we were so close. We drew against Gunners and GU and those games would have set us for the championship had we gotten a win from them. When Rollers lost against Security System it was also positive for us but we couldn’t go the distance. We have seen where our mistakes were and we have derived lessons from those and come this season we will not allow a repeat of the past.
How do you gauge the level of competitiveness of the local premier league in comparison to others in the region and elsewhere? Would you say our football is showing growth? It would appear that most teams face a major challenge in terms of administration failures. What are you doing right at Galaxy to avoid falling victims to the same?
GILIKA: There are positives; we need to build on these. We are still far but with commitment from everyone; clubs, the league, the mother body, sports commission, ministry responsible for sports and the football community at large anything is possible. Teams have done so well in terms of club licensing which is now a minimum standard to participate in the premier league. When we can sustain the requirements as spelt out, we will realise the growth we are looking for and achieve our objectives of professionalising the game in the country. The club ownership models if defined and understood by all and implemented to best suit our environment. This will come a long way in helping football growth in the country. As Galaxy we are continuing to educate our people in terms of administration and we will organise training for our administrators to make sure they are at par with the requirements of modern football. We will continue to benchmark with the best locally and in the region to make sure we are continuously improving in our quest to improve football in our community and be the ultimate benchmark locally and internationally.
Many believe that the biggest challenge which hinders growth in local football is lack of sponsorship/ resources. What is the situation at Galaxy and how do you think teams can best address this challenge?
GILIKA: Football is business and to have a successful business there must be adequate capital injection as a start and proper planning to make sure resource allocation matches the requirement of the business as it goes through the stages of growth (Start-up stage, Growth stage, Expansion stage, Maturity stage). We have to make sure all these stages are planned for and their requirements catered for. We are working tirelessly to make sure we are prepared for the challenges. We are currently working on a business model that will define our sustainability plan that will see us surviving post support from organisations which are currently lending a supporting hand. Our belief is that teams must start tapping into small enterprise business opportunities that our government has to try and survive. The big and successful companies we see started somewhere and they grew their products to bring the success they enjoy now. If you look at Kaizer Chiefs, a business model can be derived and we can see the product they came with to be what they are now. Some of the owners of successful clubs the world over are business people outside football and they are now supporting football. Clubs can grow business entities outside football that will come on to support their course. In this way our sustainability can somehow be guaranteed.
Is your support base growing?
GILIKA: We believe in continuous improvement. We are on a membership registration drive. We will not relent even if we can fill up our stadium. Support is very vital in that the fans give financial support through merchandise sales, gate ticket purchases, membership registration and obviously sponsor attraction. Our support is ever growing and it is pleasing at the rate at which we see membership renewal going and the new registrations. We don’t have the numbers but the fact that we have a high retention rate is pleasing and the new registrations are an encouragement that we need to make note of. We are currently going around the villages around Jwaneng for supporter recruitment and merchandise promotion. We were in Samane over the first weekend of the premier league season and next is Maokane, Mokhomma, Lefoko, Lerolwane, Sese, Pitseng, Sekoma, Khakhea, Mabutsane, Betesankwe, and the surrounding villages. We will be going to Kgalagadi and other places nearby to promote the team like Kanye, Mmathete, Moshaneng, Moshupa, Lotlhakane and others.
7) The BFA (or BPL board) recently resolved to grant teams some level of autonomy in managing their games; do you see this adding any value towards development of local football? How?
GILIKA: This kind of autonomy would very much assist teams. The teams can now value their product and sell it for what they believe it is worth. The responsibility and accountability will now be with the teams and no one else, thus giving them outright control on the ticketing. If they don’t show commitment it will only affect the clubs themselves.
How did Jwaneng Galaxy come about?
GILIKA: The dream began on the 26th March 2014 when two teams met for the first to discuss possibilities of merging and forming one formidable team that would be self-sustaining and participate in the elite league. The two teams that got engaged in fruitful meetings that brought about the new kid on the block were Jwaneng Comets and Debswana Young Stars. One may wonder what happened to Blue Diamonds? Young Stars and Blue Diamonds merged in 2013 adopting the Young Stars name. When the two teams engaged, there was no Blue Diamonds anymore as they were part of Debswana Young Stars.
The committees from both sides were required to present on models that they felt would be best suited to the objective they were coming with. Both teams were asked to go and engage their members and come up with an endorsement from their members as well as their proposed models. Presentations were made on each team’s proposed model and holes were punched on each. It was after long discussion that one of the models was adopted and perfected to add omissions that were picked during discussions.
The model that was adopted was capped with the signing of a memorandum of agreement to fortify the new establishment. A new team was formed and engagements with other structures began to make sure all due processes were followed in having the team recognised in all structures. A change of name was made to the Registrar of Societies. The Botswana Football Association structures were informed about the new development and it was all systems go.
The 7th August 2014 will always be remembered in the history books of Botswana as the team was registered as Jwaneng Galaxy FC. A dream every football fanatic in Jwaneng was waiting for had happened. Jwaneng Galaxy FC started competing in First Division South and in the first season it clinched position one and gained promotion to Botswana Premier League. The team played its first Premier league game on the 8th August 2015 against Police XI in SSKB stadium (Mogoditshane). Jwaneng Galaxy FC went on to finish on position 7, thereby qualifying for the Mascom Top 8 competition in its maiden season.
On its first attempt at the Mascom Top 8, Jwaneng Galaxy FC emerged champions and came as runners up in the league in the second season in the premier league. The team went on to participate the CAF Confederations Cup and was eliminated in the first round. The team also managed to come second in the league for the second time in succession.
The team boosts of large following stretching from Kanye to as far as Ghanzi. Our marketing team has embarked on registering members and we have a plan to register over 1000 new members by the end of the year 2018/2019. A membership recruitment plan is in place to try and bring more support for the team and spreading all over the country.
Would you advise other teams with similar circumstances in different localities to adopt the same model?
GILIKA: One has to look at their circumstances and come up with a model that best suits their situation. We would not impose this model on anyone; it can be adopted by someone who sees value in it and are prepared to drive it all the way. It is the best for us and we will forever push for the goodies we see in it.
Is it working?
GILIKA: We can’t be the judges; let people judge for themselves!
Some may argue that consolidation of clubs into one team kills diversity, your views on that?
GILIKA: One may ask a question as follows: what has the diversity we are talking about brought to our football before we came with this idea? It may be difficult to come out with an outright and quick response and references. But if you ask a Galaxy fan now, they will be quick to respond and give reference to the success the club realised in the short time of existence.