Botswana XI first goalkeeper speaks

| September 8, 2015

Botswana has been blessed with a long list of great goalkeepers who represented the national team with distinction. They include Modiri Marumo, Thabo ‘Mahala’ Motang, Mooketsi ‘China’ Mading, Matshidiso ‘Sexton’ Kowa, and the late Sam Sono.

But there is one forerunner to these men, Phillip Mauco, who has the distinction of being the first goalkeeper to represent this country in an international match soon after independence in 1966.

Born in June 1946, Mauco started playing football at an early age at Hill School Primary in Lobatse. Now 69 years old, BOPA caught up with the former goalkeeper at his home in Gaborone to reminisce on his football journey.

Mauco said he started kicking the ball while at primary school in Peleng, but it was at St Joseph’s College where his goalkeeping career really blossomed.

“The Mighty Khalians (St Josephs) during our days was a feared team and we never lost a game,” he said.

During school holidays, Mauco played for United Terrors in Lobatse.

As his goalkeeping talent was beginning to shine, Mauco was roped into the national team ahead of a friendly match against South African club, Moroka Swallows. According to him, it was the first official match for Botswana XI after independence. Botswana XI was beaten 15-3.

He said the team, assembled from the best footballers around the country, did not have a chance to train together.

“Imagine playing against a professional team like Swallows without a single training session or practice match,” Mauco said with a giggle.

“All we were thinking about was to represent our country playing the sport we loved dearly. We lost with a terrible score-line. Those guys were too good considering the experience they possessed,” Mauco said.

The team included the likes of Rex Morakaladi, Disappear Leburu, Rabodiba Dinku, Richard Mosope, Cyprian ‘Wonderboy’ Mothelesi and Muller Mothelesi.

“All our goals were scored by Disappear Leburu who was an exceptional player from a family blessed with football talents,” he said.

As the youngest player in the team, he said trying to command players who were much older than him was a big challenge: “How do you shout at a senior player who is much older than you? All I had to do was try to stop the arsenal of Swallows strikers.”

He said one Swallows player Rhuu Merafhe would dribble all Botswana XI players and scored easily: “I was no match. The next day Naledi Ya Batswana newspaper carried a title ‘Mauco vs Big VX’.”

Mauco said they were driven by passion when playing. He said unlike in modern football, which is business, during their era it was talent that mattered most.

“I was an entertaining goalkeeper. After the match, Swallows goalkeeper Jimmy Bene applauded me for my performance,” he said.

Mauco played for United Terrors while at school, after completing his studies he moved to Notwane. He said from Notwane he was transferred to Francistown where he played for Tafa.

“At Tafa that is where I enjoyed my football career. The support was immense and the vibe was out of this world. The supporters loved my performances,” said Mauco.

After a three year stint with Tafa he went to play for Tlokweng Pirates where he eventually retired from active football.

Category: General

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