The silent storm
Lioli wingback, Bokang Sello, is as effective as he is quiet on the field of play
Lioli left-back, Bokang Sello, goes about his business so quietly and effortless one hardly notices his presence—only to appreciate his importance to the Teyateyaneng-based premiership outfit if he happens not to be in the team that day.
Solid when breaking up opposition play and dangerous on the overlap, the 21-year-old wingback on Thursday took the Sunday Express on his incredible journey from lower league football to the premier league and how making it into the Lioli starting eleven was such a struggle.
“I joined Lioli in 2010, from a B Division side called Emmanuel FC from Qoaling. So you can understand that it was never going to be easy to break into the starting line-up because of the quality Lioli had at the time, and also where I was coming from.
“It was, indeed, a dream come true for me because playing alongside the likes of Motlalepula Mofolo, who I admired so much before I came here, was something I had never imagined could happen. But here I am, donning the famous colours of one of the biggest clubs in Lesotho, and loving every minute of it,” Sello said.
However, the defender said his first weeks at the club were so frustrating he nearly quit because competition for places was so high.
“There were times I felt like leaving the team because of the fierce competition but I had a very strong support base, particularly the club’s management, which believed in me. Because of this backing, I decided to stay and fight, and the determination eventually paid off, but after really testing my patience.”
The Matsieng-born youngster said he only started playing football in 2003 after being encouraged to take-up the sport by his mother who feared he might get into mischief “on the streets” if he did not have something meaningful to do.
“I was born in Matsieng but moved to Ha-Thetsane with my mother when I was still very young. That’s where I did my primary education at Likotsi and later went to Lesia High School,” Sello said.
“As a kid, I would fight with my mates most of the time, so my mother was advised to find me something to do, just to take me off the streets. So one day, on her way home from work, she went to Pitso Ground and met Ntate Manuel. She explained my situation to him, and he agreed to take me into his team. That’s how I joined Emanuel FC in 2003.”
However, Sello said initially, he was not too keen on the game, but later came to like it and excel that he was eventually called to the national under-17 side and later the under-20s, and now the national team, Likuena.
“I never really liked football when I was growing up, but after joining Emmanuel FC, I realised that soccer was actually my true calling. I was later called into the national under-17 team and also played for Maseru District in the Vision 2020 tournaments where I worked with the likes of Tjamela Tjamela, who has been very helpful in making me the player I am today,” he said.
However, the left-footed player said when he joined Lioli, not making the starting line-up was so frustrating as he had been used to playing regularly at Emmanuel FC.
“I really struggled during my first days here and couldn’t understand why I was not playing at all. I was then informed that I was still too young to feature in the first team, which was something surprising because I had been a regular at Emmanuel FC. That’s when I thought that maybe it was better for me to leave, until I came to my senses and decided to stay, and I am really glad I stuck it out because I wouldn’t have been the player I am today if I had left.”
According to Sello, the Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) under-20 tournament Lesotho hosted in December 2013, opened doors for him because it was only after being part of the team that he started playing regularly for Lioli.
“The most frustrating thing was I was still being called for junior national teams although I wasn’t playing for my club. But after the Cosafa tournament in which I did pretty well, things changed, and I have never looked back ever since.
“I always knew from the start that playing for a team as big as Lioli would be difficult because of its huge support base. But I have managed to hold my own, and getting a lot of support from the fans, which is driving me to do even better because I would want to repay their support by winning something for the club.”
Sello further said he was happy to be called into the national team that is preparing for the Cosafa tournament to be held in South Africa in May this year.
“I feel greatly honoured to get a national team call-up after being drooped last year head of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. Hopefully, I will make it this time around, and probably attract foreign teams should I play and do well in the tournament.
“I know it will be hard to make it into the final squad, but I am working hard to make sure it happens.”
However, the defender said he also hoped to further his studies to ensure he has a career outside football.
“I was raised by a single parent and I am an only child. I did not do well in Form E so I still have to supplement my studies before I go to tertiary school. However, I can’t do this right now because my mother is not feeling well and she is not going to work. So the money I am earning through football is the one keeping our family going.”
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