UK based Zebras hopeful was a fake
April Fool’s day came early for Botswana Football Association, local promoters, the media and football supporters this year. For all the publicity and excitement of Botswana’s first UK based player turning out for the Zebras, it turned out that Bobby Shillinde is a fake.
His arrival in the Zebras set up was supposed be the beginning of great things to come, but as it turned out Chillinde has never played for Wimbledon AFC as he claimed, although he is known to fans of the English league two side as something of a joker.
From a ‘tounge in cheek’ article in The Guardian UK this week, it appears the midfielder is known there for making up hisown football CV. He does not even exist in the Wimbledon AFC team liston the club website.
According to the article, Bobby wouldtweet claiming that he is a Wimbledon player. He even went to the extent ofphoto shopping and putting his name in the team’s grouppicture taken at a local hotel.
Blogger Maria Hyde uncovered Bobby’s web of lies in an article that will have some officials at the Lekidi Centre grimacing inembarrassment along with ourselves after we ran the story on the back page of last week’s issue.
The article reveals that Shillinde went on a twitter campaign from May 2011 in an effort to bring his false Wimbledon success to a wider audience.
Responding to the news, the player’s agent Comfort ‘Big Fish’Ramatebele wasas surprised as anyone to discover the hoax. Having set up Shillinde’s meeting with Zebras players and coach through his company Glamour Sports, he said he had faith in the player but admitted that he did not do a thorough job in checking his background.
Ramatebele said he contacted what he thought at the time was AFC Wimbledon Manager Neal Ardley, and they were supposed to meet in London in a few weeks. It now appears that the contact was one of Shillinde’s friends posing as the Wimbledon manager.
“I’m still trying to understand what is going on here, but if all these allegations turn out to be true it will be an embarrassment for me. However I will not fold my arms and throw away my company.It is not like I have killed someone or set a house on fire – this isa learning curve for me. In future I will do a lot more investigationand also use technology, visiting teams’ websites.
“I contacted the‘manager’ and he confirmed he is their player and that is when I wasconvinced. If I had money I would have booked a flight to London towatch him play,” said Ramatebele.
He said what surprised him was that the plane ticket cost P10 000 of which Shillinde paid 75% and Glamour Sport25%. He said BFA is also to be blamed as they could have also researched or sought help from their newly appointed English CEO Keith Masters.
Commenting on the player who had a brief training session with the Zebras, coach Stanley Tshosane said: ‘There is a lack of fitness in the player, but maybe that is because he is not used to our climate here. If he is a player he needs to do a lot of training. He is not ready to play for the national team. He is still young but is not at a level that I expected him to be.”
This is the second time Glamour Sport has been involved in this kind of situation. Ramatebele was forced to apologise to BR Highlanders after he sold them a Nigerian player John Abimbola, who claimed to be a top striker. After six outings without a single goal Highlanders officials complained, and the player’s contract was terminated.
Efforts to contact Bobby were not successful as his mobile was off-air. Having left Botswana on Wednesday afternoon because he was ineligible to play, even if he could, because he did not hold a Botswana passport, he was on an evening flight to London. Probably laughing all the way home.