Shah’s throne besieged
Botswana Premier League board chairperson, Jagdish Shah is — behind closed doors — a frustrated man. Unbeknownst to him, the lurid chairperson is battling ugly demons in the form of rebellion within his board as factions threaten to rock Lekidi once again.
The confusion hit board is skating on thin ice as several different kinds of war are erupting, with board members swaying from one faction to the other. WeekendSport sources say a rebellion of some sort is threatening to play itself out where members are starting to turn their backs on the chairman. According to observers, this is a board that is defiant and stubborn to control and the strain is now weighing heavily on Shah. Insiders say members are plotting the fall of Shah and this is triggered by the sudden change of fixtures that involved Township Rollers, a club that Shah also leads.
As it stands, politics are taking centre stage and there is a serious plan to remove Shah from the post. Insiders say there is ‘big brother’ battle between Nicholas Zakhem and Shah. Zakhem is a member of the board because he represents GU. The two do not see eye-to-eye because both believe their clubs are better administered- and are paying players better.
The second clash has emerged between Somerset Gobuiwang and Shah. The combat between the two football administers is well documented. It comes way back from Rollers management. The two have grown fiercest rivals after each fought for the control of the club. Ironically, it was Gobuiwang who brought Shah to Rollers for purposes of investment. While Gobuiwang ultimately lost the battle, it is now claimed that the chance to take on Shah has spontaneously arrived. Sources say he is ready to throw weight behind those who want to oust Shah.
All the while, Shah seems comfortable. Sources likened him to a chess player confident of his tactics on the king’s Indian defence move. This is a move where the king is surrounded by pawns for the overall protection of the crown. Lately, information has been spilling that newly recruited, yet living in trouble, Tariq Babitseng of Extension Gunners is eyeing Shah’s plum post. However, when reached for comment, Babitseng was quick to deny the allegations, “I do not have intentions of standing as of now, if it so happens, I will make it public knowledge.”
A couple of other board members are reported to be plotting with the low lying Babitseng to oust Shah. It is still maintained that Tebogo Sebego of Notwane is teaming with long time foot soldier Babitseng to take control. A source repeatedly says Babitseng is a master mind in dethroning Shah. But his unpredictability and ability to manoeuvre the football terrain is leaving others with confusion regarding his stand.
Solomon Mantswe of Police XI- who is serving as the right arm of Shah is expected to step down. But there is a rumour inside the board that Mantswe will not relinquish his duties. It is claimed that the Police XI chairman resent Zakhem, and as a demonstration to that, he once threatened to write a letter to him to explain why he disobeyed him and the board. That being the case, Mantswe is labelled a firm favourite of Shah.
When fielding WeekendSport‘s inquiry, the head of the board said there is no cause for panic and everything is well on track. “We will take matters by the strides, and I have not heard of any revolt. The law shall prevail,” Shah assured. This is after he was asked to clarify the issue regarding his stand as the chairperson within a ‘cracking house’.
However, this publication learnt that the National Executive Committee of the association has instituted a three man’s committee to further investigate the issue of league fixtures. But as a quick response to the matter, the BFA has appointed a management committee to oversee and run the affairs of the league.
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Lack of funds dent boxing teamâ€™s performance
Botswana’s financial troubles in sports are well documented to an extent that it is becoming a normalcy for national teams to be subjected to less preparations ahead of major games.
With the boxing national men’s team fresh from the World Boxing Championships, what could have been a good performance by local pugilists has been rather overshadowed by lack of proper preparations.
The team under the tutelage of head coach Thebe Setlalekgosi, left for Uzbekistan a fortnight ago to face the world but was only subjected to a week-long training in Gaborone.
Despite some spirited performances from the boxers, the team returns home battered by their opponents, a result which is blamed on poor preparations ahead of the tourney.
This year’s World Boxing Championships attracted 539 boxers with the local lads starting off on the round of 64, andÂ luck was not on the three boxers with Kobamelo Molatlhegi getting beaten by Erygunal Sebahtin of Bulgaria while Rajab Mahommed Otukile lost 5-0 to Macharia David Karanja of Kenya.Â A debutant in the national team, Kagoetsile Raokgwathile was defeated by Abdomalekijerei P of Iran.
However, there was a glimpse of hope for George Molwantwa, now ranked number eight in the World Boxing rankings defeated Carlos Perez of Dominican Republic 5-0 in his first bout to advance to the next round. Despite a good showing, Molwantwaâ€™s journey in the tournament was brought to a halt by Ghana’s Mohammed Amadu through a split decision in the round of 16.According to Setlalekgosi, the boys did their best looking at the financial quagmires they are facing.
“If you are aware, the financial year has just come to an end and was forced to attend this competition with no funds and adequate preparations which required us to have more international friendly bouts to be on par with our international competitors. Furthermore, in boxing we depend on government financial aid, if there is nothing from that side we are good as dead because that would affect our training,” lamented Setlalekgosi.
Though the trip was financed by International Boxing Association (IBA) through purchasing of tickets for the boxers and coach, government paid for local and international allowances and contingency to ensure a successful trip. Setlalekgosi further hinted that this World Championship were the biggest in history of Boxing.
“I believe these were the World Championships in history of Boxing as we are slowly approaching the Paris 2024 Olympics and contest like these one’s are vital to prepare and gain points for boxers so it becomes easy for them to be seeded instead of starting at the preliminary stages.
We already have Molwantwa who has been remarkable and he is in the top eight and that is historic because it is the first time we have a boxer in the top eight. We need all of our boxers to follow his route and that can be done with proper training and financial support,” hinted Setlalekgosi.
With the African Boxing Championships set to take place from June 13th -25th , 2023, at Cameroon, the team now shifts focus to the contest as it will be a veritable opportunity for athletes to better their rankings ahead of the 2024 Olympics games.
Quizzed on prospects of qualifying to the 2024 Olympics Games and the upcoming African Boxing Championships, he said: “We are racing against time as our lack of better preparedness is the contributing factor – you will find that sometimes we train boys with girls which is not ideal because they do not have opponents locally and we barely have international friendly bouts.
I am afraid that we might not qualify for the Olympics which will be catastrophic but we are going to work hard to avoid that. Moreover, for the African Boxing Championships, we are hoping to assemble a team of men and women andÂ go on camp by the end of this month, so that we have at least two-week preparation thus we will be able to compete,”
For his part, Molwantwa said he feels he should not have lost his bout against Amadu. “I feel I have done everything that we discussed with the coach hence a loss is not acceptable but that is part of the game. We are going back to the drawing boards and prepare thoroughly for the continental championships.
In addition, my plan is to bring gold home as we move closer to the Olympics, it can be a major morale booster,” he said.
From Charity to Peanuts
First they were to play for charity, with no prize money, then there was a u-turn, some monies will be availed. This followed another failed bid to secure a sponsor for the countryâ€™s elite football league for the year running. In a jaw dropping development, this week the apex league, Botswana Football League (BFL) and the Debswana First Division announced measly prize monies â€“ this has created a buzz within the football community.
It appears the countryâ€™s most popular sport, football has experienced regression in recent years with decline popularity making it difficult for sponsors to come on board. Furthermore, many observers are of view that the lack of sponsors has affected competitiveness in the top tier league.
When the local football season started, it was marred with controversy as five teams failed club licensing requirements; and they were to be relegated to the lower division. However, a decision was taken to pardon the sides and soften the Club Licensing requirements to ensure the teams were compliant. Â At the end of October BFL officials announced that they have secured P10 million for the season to commence albeit making it clear that there will be no monthly grants and prize money at the end of the season.
In a sudden change of heart, prize money has been sneaked in and the BFL top brass announced a 25% reduction from last season’s prize money. Last seasonâ€™s champions Gaborone United received P1 million then, but this term, the winner will pocket P750 000. According to a statement from BFL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Senzo Mbatha, for the 2022/2023 football season, the champions which is likely to be Jwaneng Galaxy as they lead the log table ahead of defending champions, GU with just three game to spare, will get P750 000 and an opportunity to represent the country in the CAF champions league next season.
The runners-up will pocket P375, 000 with third placed team getting P262, 500. As for the relegating teams which are Extension Gunners, Mogoditshane Fighters and probably Prisons IX – they will receiveÂ Â P82, 500 each. According to the BFL missive, the prize money amounts to P3 million in total.
Meanwhile, the BFL CEO said, “The BFL has paid P4, 6 million to member clubs in the current season. This is a significant achievement for our member clubs, considering that the league had to survive from the broadcast sponsor BTV and the financial partner ABSA Bank who were the only sponsors in the current season.”
“When considering the operational costs, which include match venue hire, medical services hire, referees’ fees, travel costs, accommodation and office overheads, these savings assist in managing the league programs for the clubs, which is costly.”
FIRST DIVISION â€“ TEAMS GOT MORE GRANTS
Nonetheless, for the lower league being the Debswana First Division- the newly crowned champions Matebele FC and Tafic SC shall receive P30 000 for their season long efforts. Second placed teams which are Chadibe FC and VTM FC who are set to face each other in a promotional play-off pocket P20 000 each, according to Debswana First Division South Chairman, Thebeetsile Mokgwa.
Speaking to this publication this week, Mokgwa said all the 24 First Division teams received P165 000 as grants compared to the P82 500 which each they were supposed to get for the just ended season. â€śThe reason why we increased the grants to P165 000 is mainly because of COVID-19 as the 2020/2021 season was cancelled and the teams were not given the money,â€ť Mokgwa mentioned.
The First Division South chairman also revealed that from the P3.9 million sponsorship from Debswana which was to help the teams to stay afloat to develop professional football and players, the bulk of it went to the clubs. He said the second largest share went to the referees and the remaining funds were channeled towards administration of the league.
In addition Mokgwa said, P1.3 million will be distributed to registered players from the 24 clubs, with each team receiving P56, 000, and players entitled to P1 400.00.
Following the prize money revelations, criticism has surfaced from some social media commentators, who questioned the announcement of prize money with only three rounds of games left in the season. Uncertainty remains as to whether there will be a BFL awards ceremony this year, as no official statement has been made yet.
BPL 2022-23 Prize money breakdown
- P750 000 (Champions)
- P375 000 (Runners-up)
- P262 500
- P225 000
- P172 500
- P150 000
Debswana First Division prize-money
- P30 000 Champions
2. P20 000 Runners up
3. P15 000
4. P10 000
5. P5 000
6. P2 500
Rollers Exit: Jagdish deadline nears Â
31st May 2023 is the final day of Jagdish Shahâ€™s reign at Township Rollers as chief financier. He has been at the helm of the club for over a decade.
Jagdishâ€™s tenure was characterized by court and board room brawls, including a fight against his former business partner- Somerset Gobuiwang and some disgruntled Rollers supporters who at the time were challenging the legitimacy of his leadership at the time.
Rollers’ interim chairman, Phemepherete Bafana Pheto, said, following a Special General Meeting held in March by the current Rollers Executive Committee with the membership, Shah out rightly rejected the resolutions from the meeting. Instead, Shah wanted the society dissolved so that he may have full control of the club, but members rejected the proposal.
According to the interim chairman, since the last engagement with Shah in March, the club director, and chief financier has not disclosed whether he has reappraised his decision to stay at the club or whether he will walk out at the end of the season, as he indicated in February this year.
When quizzed about measures put in place by the Executive Committee for the remainder of the season, Pheto said that they would take the responsibility as the committee to take the club forward. He further noted that they have started engagements with potential investors, although they are not vigorous as they are still waiting to establish his stance.
â€śSince announcing his intentions that he will step down in May, Mr. Shah has attended several training sessions in which he also motivated and urged the players and technical team to maintain a reputable position in the league and also urged them to win at least one silverware, which is the Orange FA cup as you know we will take Gaborone United in the semi-finals,â€ť Pheto concluded.
Efforts to contact Shah proved futile at press time, as he did not respond to questions sent by this publication to him, relating to his imminent departure from the club.
Apart from the ownership scuffles during Shahâ€™s era, the team has been dominant in domestic competitions, winning five league titles in the last decade and also making a historic CAF Confederation Cup group stage appearance in 2018, becoming the first team in the country to achieve this goal.
Nevertheless, this publication has since gathered that Shah entered into a 10 â€“ year lease agreement with his then-former partner Gobuiwang which was signed in 2013, and the deal is expected to end this May. According to sources, Shah will leave the club together with Bennett Mamelodi, who has been the Chief Executive Officer for almost two years.
Furthermore, this publication has been informed that Shah wanted 100 percent ownership of the club because there was a chance to sell the club as he was contemplating relocating overseas. In addition to that, in June last year, the value of the club was estimated between P20 million and P25 million after Shah had submitted documents for club licensing requirements.