SADC mourns sport heroes – Bots loses footballer Tiro and professional boxer Nkabiti
By Bakang Mhaladi
GABORONE – It was a dark week for Botswana sport after two well-known sports persons, footballer, Gofaone Tiro and professional boxer, Herbert Nkabiti died just 24 hours apart.
Last Friday, Tiro, an attacking midfielder with Botswana’s most decorated club, Township Rollers, collapsed and died while training with the rest of the team. Rollers was preparing for a league match against Green Lovers on Sunday, which was subsequently postponed.
“Tiro trained today (last Friday) morning with the team, at the team’s scheduled training session in Tlokweng, but inadvertently collapsed while training. He was rushed to the nearest medical facility, but was declared dead on arrival,” the club announced on Friday afternoon.
Coach, Teenage Mpote said it was a tough time for the players and a psychologist had been called in to assist. The team trained for the first time since Tiro’s death on Monday as they prepared for a mid week clash against BDF XI on Wednesday.
Captain Joel Mogorosi told The Southern Times the incident had affected the rest of the team badly.
“We are failing to cope, we will see how it goes as we meet for the first training session since the tragedy,” he said on Monday.
The 26year-old collapsed while chasing a loose ball in what is suspected to be cardiac failure. Compatriot, Tshepo Motlhabankwe said his team mates did not think it was a serious issue when the skillful midfielder collapsed.
“We never thought it was a life threatening situation until we heard after training that he had passed on,” Motlhabankwe said.
The team has been holding daily evening prayers at the club’s old offices in Gaborone while a memorial service was scheduled for Thursday.
Tiro’s body was taken to his home village, Gulubane, near the second city of Francistown, on Wednesday with burial scheduled for Saturday.
Nicknamed ‘The President’, Tiro joined Rollers from First Division side, Uniao Flamengo Santos two seasons ago but battled to nail down a starting berth.
He was mainly used as a ‘super sub’ and his last involvement for the defending champions was last week Sunday, where he replaced goal scorer, Motseletsi Sikele as Rollers won 2-0 at Security Systems.
While football was still coming to terms with Tiro’s death, professional boxer, Herbert Nkabaiti died from head injuries sustained during his fight against South African Willers Baloyi at the Big Top Beat Down Friday Fight Night at Carnival City.
Nkabiti did not last the six-round international junior welterweight bout after complaining about difficulties in breathing soon after he was caught by a Baloyi upper cut.
Nkabiti’s brother, Moitshepi rushed to the Voslorous hospital in Johannesburg after he was informed about the incident. Nkabiti was taken to hospital in a coma but Moitshepi said when he arrived to check on him, he passed away.
Moitshepi said the South African professional boxing body had been helpful and was expected to meet the costs of repatriating the body to Botswana.
The boxer’s body was expected in Botswana on Wednesday with funeral scheduled for his home village of Kanye, 100km south of the capital, Gaborone.
The 36year-old had quit boxing but had made a comeback to fight Baloyi in what proved to be a fatal decision.
He had a glittering career, winning a silver medal in the junior welterweight division at the 2007 All Africa Games.
He took part at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and suffered defeat to eventual winner, Englishman, James Russan.