Gaborone - When Zimbabwe’s top-flight league was a constant conveyor belt, churning top-drawer talent more than two decades ago, a few players considered Botswana as their next destination.
In fact, top players such as Moses Chunga, Peter Ndlovu, Ephraim Chawanda and Adam Ndlovu and Rahman Gumbo, flew overseas after signing lucrative contracts in countries such as Belgium, England, Switzerland and Germany.
Those considered less fortunate, joined the trek down south to play in the South African Premier League.
Botswana was hardly considered as an attractive destination. The players, who crossed the Ramokgwebana River to join Botswana’s then Super League, were considered flops in the Zimbabwe league.
There was a handful though who made their mark then; Gaborone United managed to grab a gem in Highlanders' Mandla Balanda, Wankie's Fabian Zulu, who was a hit at Notwane and former Chapungu kingpin, Gary Mkandawire.
The majority remained mostly under the radar players, who hardly shone for their clubs back home, with Botswana remaining a largely unwanted virgin ground for Zimbabwe talent.
However, at the turn of the millennium, there was a sharp shift, with Zimbabwean players turning to the Botswana league.
Despite the financial rewards remaining low, they were marginally better than what most clubs paid in Zimbabwe.
By 2008, at the height of an economic meltdown, even top players, like the former top goal-scorer, Master Masitara, Highlanders' Master Masiku, Siza Khoza and Evans Gwekwerere had joined the journey to the Botswana league.
There has been little movement in the opposite direction, with only former national team captain, Joel Mogorosi coming close to joining cash-rich, Platinum Stars.
South Africa's Bloemfontein Celtic came into the picture to snatch Mogorosi, who became a hit at the Free State club.
The flow of players, and even coaches from Zimbabwe has been unrelenting with some considered top talents flopping at Botswana clubs.
Coaches such as Madinda Ndlovu, Rahman Gumbo, Elvis Chiweshe, Willard Khumalo and Gilbert Mushangazhike, have all found jobs in Botswana at one stage or another.
The Botswana league has improved drastically, attracting a P39million sponsorship deal from a telecommunications company, the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC), but remains largely unrewarding except for clubs like Township Rollers, Orapa United and Jwaneng Galaxy which can pay competitive salaries.
Still, the lure of the Botswana league has proved irresistible, with Zimbabwean players keen to try their luck.
Only recently, champions, Rollers decided against signing Highlanders winger, Gabriel Nyoni who was on trial.
It was previously unheard off that a player from a top side like Dynamos or Highlanders would flop at a Botswana club.
However, the times have changed.
Former Dynamos' top Cameroonian striker, Ntoupa Epoupa recently eloped and joined Orapa United coached by former ex Highlanders coach, Bongani Mafu.
Sports journalist, Calistus Kolantsho said it is clear that the Botswana league is gaining a measure of respect as opposed to, in the past.
“They are not yet at the level of the South African Premiership, but have attracted some decent players in recent years, which was previously, unheard of,” he said.