Zapata could suffer from the ‘Gumbo rule’

  • Peter Butler linked with the Technical Director role
  • Most Technical Directors have succeeded the club’s struggling coaches


Gaborone United coach Rodolfo Zapata could suffer the same fate as many of his predecessors who were shown the door after the installment of a Technical Director. The same tactic has been used on many coaches as they left the club with the overwhelming shadow of a ‘coach in waiting’ looming over them.
Zapata’s position has been thrust into the spotlight for months, local newspaper reports have linked him with Zimbabwean club Highlanders FC, to add to the uncertainty Zapata’s side has started the season on a bit of a rough patch with two successive draws in the BTC Premiership.
Former Zebras coach Peter Butler has now been linked with a move to GU as a Technical Director. Butler is a close friend of the club’s chief financier Nicholas Zackhem, the businessman assisted Butler numerous times in the former Zebras coach’s countrywide national scouting trips in the Northern region.
Zapata publicly stated his aim to challenge for all trophies available this season, however, they are already trailing perennial title challengers Township Rollers and Orapa United by four points. Most coaches at GU have often been ‘emasculated’ by the presence of a Technical Director, in all cases these TD’s were actual qualified coaches whose presence hovered over the head coaches.
Normally, the head coach is the most senior member of the technical team, bringing in an equally qualified coach to act as his technical supervisor or technical peer has proved unsuccessful for GU in most cases. It appears the club has a succession plan that has been deployed on so many occasions, it could be a warning sign for Zapata if the rumours of Butler’s arrival as the TD are true.
The Gumbo Rule
In 2014, Gumbo was hired as the club’s TD following the suspension of Major David Bright and the installment of George Mogopodi as the interim head coach. Eventually Gumbo inherited the post of head coach on a permanent basis, which was no surprise to the football fraternity.
A year later the club brought former Mochudi Centre Chiefs coach Dragojlo Stanojlovic as their new TD when Gumbo’s side was struggling. The Serbia coach stepped in when Gumbo was on leave, the two coaches then worked together on the technical bench but eventually Gumbo was shown the door in favour of Stanojlovic.
It appears the same model created to get rid of Gumbo is a possibility if indeed Butler is being considered for the TD role, if the history of the role is anything to go by.