Now a commercial entity, Masitaoka Football club has welcomed an announcement by Botswana Football Association (BFA) that teams can start training and playing friendly matches, which paves the way for the return of competitive football.
"It is going to be a long road to full recovery after such a long lay off. Our players are already on a third week intensive training to improve their condition," said newly appointed General Manager, Harry Koata, in an interview on Friday.
Koata said immediately after the announcement that football will be back soon, Masitaoka management engaged professional doctors to assess the team's level of fitness and conduct medical tests on the players to determine their readiness to resume high intensity games. "They were all given thumbs up, after the players were put in a gymnasium for seven days with a professional physical trainer. They are currently alternating between the training grounds and the gymn in an ongoing programme to recovery," he said.
In addition, Koata is quick to explain thaty even during lockdown the technical team had given the players specialised training programme to keep fit. At the end of every week the players submitted vidoes of their training sessions, which were evaluated by the technical team to provide further guidance.
FA Cup, new players
Even as the BFA is yet to announce dates for the resumption of the leagues, Koata said their primary target for now is to brush aside first division North side Calendar Stars of Francistown in a quarter final Orange FA Cup encounter billed for 08 January 2021 at the Francistown Sports Complex.
Asked to guage their chances against the unknown Calendar Stars, Koata said: "The fact that they have made it to the quarter finals shows that they are a very competitive side. But we fancy our chances because of thorough preparations, our target is to reach the finals. At the current rate, we will be in good condition to compete in the field of play in January."
But how will they overcome the common problem of players' indiscipline over the festive season, which starts now? Koata said the technical team will devise a program for the players to follow over the festive season, which happens every year anway, including avoiding participation in casual social football.
Due to upcoming promotional play-offs set for November 2020, The Patriot Sport is reliably informed that the BFA will next week announce early opening of the transfer window to allow teams to acquire new players and re-arrange their squads. Once the transfer window is open, Masitaoka will announce a number of new players who are expected to sign new contracts anytime soon, sources said.
Although he was cagey with the details regarding new signings, Koata however confirmed that indeed Majatlhaga has released some players from their camp and are pursuing others to beef up the squad ahead of the Premier league. "We have not signed any players currently but we are talking to some local players," he said, cautious not to give away too much detail.
Koata bemoaned that Masitaoka is one of the most badly affected teams because of the corona virus pandemic, which brought eveything to a standstill during their transition period from first division to the premier league. "It is a demanding process of transformation. We had a lot of assignments to undertake including setting up an office, hire personnel and working towards compliance with club licensing requirements," he said, adding that there was also an urgent need to address even the psycho-mentality of the technical team and the players as the environment was changing from first division to premier league.
"We believe we have navigated the challenges well," he said, confidently.
He added: "Our major stakeholders are the supporters. We did not leave them behind in this transformation process. So, we have ravamped our membership portfolio and created three categories with different benefits. A standard Blue Membership will remain P100, a new Gold Membership granting access to all 15 home games and a home replica will go for P1500, while a limited Platinum membership at P3400 will grant the holder free access to all 15 home games with VIP lounge treatment, home and away replicas and a pair of Masitaoka branded tracksuits.
From tomorrow (Monday), Masitaoka replicas for home and away games (including an alternative) in the 2020/21 premier league season will go on sale in JB stores across the country. The replicas have been designed by Masitaoka technical partner, Dlala. Pictures of players modelling the new replicas will be posted for the first time on the team's social media pages, following a photo shoot on Monday.
On the same day, a revamped Masitaoka website will go Live, redesigned to allow members of the public to apply for membership Online using the link.: www.masitaokafc.co.bw. For those not so tech savvy, application forms will also be available in different branches around the country, and head office/ club house in Gaborone.