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The day Magosi were dethroned

Once the envy of other Premier League clubs, Mochudi Centre Chiefs was indeed a dominant force. Having enjoyed a decade a total control and football monopoly, the Kgatleng giants are now moving into wilderness, observes Staff Writer MOSIMANEGAPE TSHOSWANE.

It could have never come to this moment. That moment when Mochudi Centre Chiefs’ fight for survival is further complicated by arch rivals Township Rollers. A club they battled long and hard to conquer football power. But on Wednesday afternoon, Chiefs fell into relegation zone for the second time this season. This has instantly fuelled fears that the team might not survive this time around. Fate is no longer within their hands. They are no longer in control of their own destiny.

The sordid football story of the Kgatleng giants is that—history, no matter how colourful and glorious, does win you important matches. This is a club that has gone through all phases of football metamorphosis. They were once relegated in 1994, won the first division championship in 1995 to play Super League (now Botswana Premier League) again in 1996.

In 2007-08, the club won the league undefeated, a new standing record set by the Botswana club. In the following year, they refused to let it go when Mike Sithole‘s Gaborone United clinched the title on the very last game. Chiefs finished the race second. Indeed they had established themselves as the overriding force of Botswana football behind Township Rollers.

In 2011-12 season, still nobody came close to them. They won another premier title. Under the influence of hard-nosed negotiator Ernest Molome, the team bossed everything that came ahead. They had adopted a mercenary belief that success literally has a price.  Any other good player had to play for this side. That is why it was easy for them to defend the cup in the subsequent season. The unprecedented trend of dominance stretched on the 2014-15 and 15-16 season. The Kgatleng giants won another back to back title championship.

But ever since the departure of club financer, Sayeed Jamali, the club literally crumbled down. Club chairman Raymond Tsheko rightly put it down, “Every time when this club relegates, it is because there is clear lack of financial support, it happened in 1994.” The club has collected 22 points from 28 league games and by Wednesday that harm by Township Rollers ensured that the team seat uncomfortably in relegation quagmire.

But who would have imagined that during the year of its near 50th anniversary, Chiefs would barely be ruling, but rather sit on the brink of being forgotten and relegated to the scrap heap of football history? Who would have imagined that someday, while its peers such as Township Rollers and Orapa United would boast appearances in CAF Champions League football stages and continue to be among the top clubs in local football?  The once Kgatleng outfit that used to play neat football would resemble an old, faded beauty queen who has become the useful tool of young men who want to test their virility?

In a different time, this was unthinkable, an unimaginable impossibility, for this was no ordinary club. This is a club that once assembled top players like Pontsho Moloi, Dirang Moloi, Jerome Ramatlhakwane, Jomo Moatlhaping and Joel Mogorosi under one unit. Centre chiefs was not just a football club, but also a way life. There are many memorable moments and a therapeutic package of flair and skill that brought so much joy, pride and an escape from the harsh realities of life just to watch this team.  To many, including even from the opposition rank, Chiefs brought spark to Botswana football.  This is a club that unified the often troublesome villages of Kgatleng- Mochudi, Rasesa, Bokaa and Morwa.

Their followers will always sing powerful and melodies songs at the stands. Has the time arrived for the club faithful supporters to rise and shine, and as chips are down, belt out a song urging on Kgosi Lenchwe to rescue Magosi. But on Wednesday 1st of May, the day they fell into relegation, when Rollers’ Tumisang Orebonye ran rampant, the supporters could be heard enjoying one last moment, singing as they usually do. But was it for the last time? The answer lies within two remaining games: Sankoyo Bush Bucks and Gaborone United.

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Sport

Rakgare addresses BFA presidential candidates

21st September 2020
Minister Tumiso Rakgare

Amid the confusion surrounding the date of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) elections, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, met with three presidential candidates on Thursday morning to discuss a plethora of problems bedevilling the domestic game.

The candidates are Maclean Letshwiti, the current President, Tebogo Sebego, the firm challenger of the BFA throne, together with Ookeditse Malesu who enters the race for the first time in his sporting career. There were other two unnamed officials who are said to be representatives from the sport ministry.

The Sport minister is said to have adopted a hard-nosed approach to register his disappointment and worry that the uncertainty of the upcoming elections have injured the administration of the local game.

Highly placed sources at the Sport ministry say that the minister’s ‘no gloves barred’ approach comes at the behest of the BFA’s constant negative headlines regarding their leadership style as of going into the elections.

It is said that Rakgare was also worried that the current administration is keeping the other two camps in the dark regarding the planning and processes bordering on election issues. This, he said has led to unnecessary speculations and back biting that is not needed to lift the game at a time when it is on its knees.

He was to rattle a few feathers at one incident when he called all the three leaders of the game to put their houses in order. As if that was not enough, the minister called on the three lobby groups to desist from serving personal interests but put focus on developing the game.

Interestingly, sources point out that the minister was livid but urged both Letshwiti and Sebego groups to refrain from tarnishing the good image of the ministry. This, he said in response to wide ranging allegations that he is taking sides as campaigns are ongoing.

The Sebego group accuses him of de campaigning Sebego and having a soft spot for Team Letshwiti while the same Letshwiti group is saying the same thing about the minister as having taking curious interest in Sebego camp.

The minister is alleged to have told the leaders that if they do not change their leadership style of protecting those looting public funds, his ministry would intervene even if it means attracting the wrath of FIFA, which is known for its notorious sanctions when countries do not toe the line. He urges BFA to be accountable at all the times they will cut the annual subventions that goes to them, sources claim.

This is not for the first time that the BFA was lectured on good governance. At one incident in 2015, former Minster of Sport Thapelo Olopeng dressed down the then Tebogo Sebego leadership regarding good governance.

BFA was at the time closely monitored by the ministry. Instead of the usual transactions that normally go through BFA, national team players received their allowances straight from government in the form of cheques. To demonstrate that government has taken a firm stand against BFA, players’ allowances were no longer routed through the association.

Nobody from the said meeting will address this publication enquiry all indicating that the consultation is never meant for public consumption.

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Sport

Virtual meet for BFA elections

21st September 2020
Malesu

If everything goes according to plan, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) will hold its annual general assembly next month through a virtual conference.

There has been much uncertainty as to how and when the congress will be held seeing as how COVID-19 protocols remain stringent on gatherings.

Sources speaking with this publication say the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the association has agreed to hold the congress within COVID-19 zones, consequently dispelling all the lingering doubts surrounding the life and soul of the assembly.

As it stands, there are nine COVID -19 zones in Botswana. The association is therefore contemplating to rely within four zones where live streaming will take centre stage for the first time in the history of BFA elections.

The congress was first billed for August 8th but was postponed to August 22nd. However, the second date could not see the light of the day as the country recorded a second rise of coronavirus cases that promptly led to greater Gaborone going into yet another lockdown.
BFA President: Letshwiti
The association has been procrastinating over the virtual congress idea with the election agenda remaining a sticky issue. Many advices came flooding that the association is free to make any decision about the congress but should be very careful not to compromise the integrity of the vote.

Sources indicate to this paper that the association is likely to rely on four COVID-19 zones, namely Gaborone, Francistown, Jwaneng and Palapye. The need to plant the meeting on virtual technologies hinges on the fact that the COVID -19 health protocols do not permit people to cross zones to hold meetings.

Information gleaned from various sources is that the association is looking to rely on four zones primarily because of the limited number of personnel under the electoral board. There are five members consisting of this committee and by the look of things; the association will not be allowed to outsource more election overseers at the eleventh hour.  Sources argue that the whole cautious exercise is meant to avoid complaints that may arise after elections are held.

The virtual meeting comes after many failed attempts by the association to convince the Kereng Masupu led Task Force to give out a special dispensation.  On many occasions, the Task Force refused to allow for the assembly to go on saying “football is not a priority.”

The assembly is expected to be held next month but the exact date still remains a subject of speculation. In the end, Tebogo Sebego will stand again for the second time to unseat Maclean Letshwiti while Ookeditse Malesu is standing for the first time to try and wrestle for BFA power.

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Sport

Talks to merge BNOC, BNSC resurface

14th September 2020
BNOC,BNSC merge

The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, is eager to lead crunch talks that will consequently see Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) becoming one authoritative sport entity.

The appointment of one Tuelo Serufho to the plum position of BNSC Chief Executive Officer two week ago has further catalysed the intention to merge the sports bodies to avoid the long standing complaints of duplication of roles by the two.

Serufho was replacing Falcom Sedimo whose contract was not renewed.Serufho, ironically is the longest serving CEO of BNOC and also a board member of BNSC.“One of our aims is to form a robust sport body to centralize and improve decision making processes and maybe the time to resuscitate BNSC/BNOC merger is now,” Rakgare briefly shared.

The impending move is highly meant to improve effective functioning, governance and performance of sports in the country both locally and globally.Should this see the light of day, Botswana would have done itself a favour and it would start sending a handful of athletes to international competitions.

The amalgamation of BNSC/BNOC talks have been in the pipelines but discussions were aborted two years ago without clear reasons. The creation of this all-encompassing sport institution is overdue according to the minister.

“It is in fact our mandate to make sure this happens, it is overdue and by next year we hope to have finalised our position paper,” Rakgare added.The creation of the looming body is borne out of lessons learnt from various sports governance models around the world.

In South Africa, the sports ministry facilitated discussions to merge National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) and the South African Sports Commission. Their authoritative sports body is now called South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).

With the South African model well in place, Botswana is urged to bench mark and create a sport body as a civic society-based organisation as required by the statutes of international sports bodies.The name of the local sport body is mooted and the minister refused to give a hint. But he is optimistic that the body will be the vanguard organization of sport in the country.

He emphasized that the sports organisation should be a purposeful guardian for governance and management of sports and be the required defining figure of the role of sports in Botswana’s communities.Talks to revamp and rebuild these sports bodies come at a time when BNSC is restructuring.

When Sedimo was still at the helm, he wanted to phase out some positions which he felt were unnecessary.BNSC receive close to 53 million Pula as grants from the government through the Ministry of Youth, Sports development and Culture empowerment while BNOC takes a figure a closer to that.

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