Representatives from Confederation of South African Football Associations (COSAFA) were this week stopped from coming to Botswana where they were to hold a consultative meeting with Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) for the football association to successfully stage the Under-17 COSAFA cup tournament.
It is said that the meeting was called-off after the realisation that the BNSC board has been dissolved indefinitely. Sources told WeekendSport that the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Culture Development and Sport Tshekedi Khama dissolved the board on Monday and reasons behind the dissolution are yet to be established. BFA is expected to host the COSAFA tournament next year June. Sue Destombes, COSAFA secretary general, was expected to help sell Botswana case in the presence of Ministry of Sport, who are by far the biggest stakeholders and funders of the game.
With this immediate cancellation, it is feared that the association has missed out on an opportunity to start deliberating on their case before it gets too late. COSAFA was anticipated to hold a fort for the association to successfully embrace this youth tournament without worries. However, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) President, Mac Lean Letshwiti who also sits in the CAF committee, is still expected to embody a more emotive promise about the ability of COSAFA youth Cup in Botswana and how it will benefit the whole football fraternity.
With Zimbabwe having come out in the open about their intentions to bid for next tournament, there is a growing feeling that Botswana should buckle its shoe laces and meet the government before it gets late. It is believed that a BFA delegation will be hopeful to walk a fine line when it finally meets the government. Although, the commercial potential of a Botswana COSAFA youth cup is a compelling factor in their favour, especially that no major football tournament was ever held before , the country is minded not make that their thrust of the case.
Hence the concentration on providing a home from home for all teams among Botswana’s diverse population and the opportunity to use the proceeds to advance legacy projects around Africa. The feeling on the ground is that the move is bold enough, and some association influential players believe that it is a matter of upgrading available stadia to recommended standards. An idea is also harboured that another stadium be built in Gaborone to boost the existing National stadium with the Lobatse and Francistown stadiums also to play a role.
Sources at Lekidi say this is no longer a thought as CAF has already pin pointed Botswana about the need to host a tournament of this magnitude. BFA, at best, are expected to continue engaging more stakeholders to seize the opportunity. Botswana as an expected host country passes the mark when it comes to transportation, accommodation and hotel facilities.
BFA is also considering roping in an experience sport person (whose name is known to this publication) and high profile of former players like Diphetogo Selolwane who is anticipated to appear for the thoughts building around the consultative exercise, and his name will be seen as watershed moment. BFA is expected to stand stronger on this move because failure to host will ten mean that CAF will lose hope from the country. Botswana pulled out of hosting the senior COSAFA cup challenge two years ago and CAF was seemingly unimpressed.
Should this happen for the second time, CAF will still leave the field open but the ever shifting sands of COSAFA internal politics might make it hard for Botswana to bid for upcoming assignments. However, South Africa which is million times ahead of Botswana when it comes to hosting, is always ready. Zimbabwe and Zambia are not far off the mark, but the ball remains with the association to convince the government about the intent.
Athletics is one of the sporting activities that for many years has been consistently performing extremely well in international competitions. One of the reasons is the availability of qualified and experienced coaches, who have been working tirelessly on the ground to ensure that they scout talent and develop more athletes.
For the first time after eons, football clubs plying their trade in the elite league are walking in the shadow of the undefined with nothing concrete agreed and on sight before the commencement of the football season.