By Mathews Mpete
When Ga-Rankuwa United qualified for the Mvela Golden League during this year's first division playoffs, joint coaches Russel Molefe and Godfrey "City" Radebe had a vision to turn the team into a formidable outfit that could compete with the best soccer teams in the country.
This, according to Molefe, could only be achieved if they acquired players of note "from the elite leagues".
He and Radebe have met with the team management and outlined their plans and vision for the team during their rookie season in the Mvela league that lays ahead.
Molefe, the former Mamelodi Sundowns (1999-2002), Moroka Swallows (2003) and Free State Stars (2004) player said they had given themselves two years. They will be gunning for Premier Soccer League status in 2008.
United surprised all and sundry when they qualified for the Mvelaphanda-sponsored league and have since become the pride of the North West Province.
The 37-year-old Molefe, who passed his Safa Level 1 coaching course with a C-symbol in May, has called on the North West and Pretoria residents to support the club "as if it is their own."
"It's a big achievement for Radebe and I to have managed to steer this team into the Mvela Golden League," said the former coach of Atteridgeville-based Ledwaba Power Stars, Winners Park and United's township rivals Inter-SA.
The team, believed to be loaded with cash, is expected to go for broke when they start signing players later this month.
"We will soon avail a list of players to be off-loaded and new signings as part of our 2006/07 vision," Molefe continued. "The team will be beefed up in our quest to end our debut season within the top-eight bracket."
When North West Premier Edna Molewa took office three years ago, she too had a vision to turn the province to be financially viable and competitive in sport.
Now she can start sharing a cup of coffee with other eight premiers and chat football as United make the soccer-starved province proud by being the only team in the platinum province to play in the professional ranks.
Initially, she kept her hopes on Mabopane Young Masters who now go under the name FC AK. United co-owner Dingi Rahlagane agrees that "the club belongs to the North West and Pretoria people".
"Our intention is to run the club as professionally as possible not to let the North West masses down," explained Rahlagane."Step by step we'll make it to the PSL like we did with Mvela."
Over 5 000 United supporters from across the Tshwane townships gathered recently to see players being presented with awards, something extraordinary for a lower League team.
"This goes to show how determined we are about being the best team in the province and we will be launching a website soon," said Molefe.
Owners Rahlagane and Harold "Kaizer" Motaung bought North West Baffaloes' status last year and succeeded in their ambition to put the club into the national league at their first attempt. United's star player and skipper Wanda Siluma is expected to play a crucial role for the club next year.
United will play their home games at Odi Stadium with their offices in the township.