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Clubs threaten League boycott

State-owned broadcaster, Botswana Television (Btv) is steadfast on its assertion that a contract signed between them and the premier league cannot be breached on the realisation that there shall be no financial benefit on part of the clubs this season.

WeekendSport establishes that the ‘dispirited’  stand by Btv now exert devastating  pressure  on the part of the league management  as clubs are mooting to boycott the league. Sources at Btv indicate that the local broadcaster is however open for fresh negotiations but have also warned that a contract signed by both parties has to be adhered to. And unless the Botswana Football Association (BFA) comes in the nick of time to save the already decaying situation, all BPL 16 teams are set to benefit nothing from the television right deal.

The premier league which is affiliated to BFA signed a five year contract with Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS).  Three of the five years had cash benefit while the last 2 years come with nothing. It is noted that clubs are bolting as they are already feeling the heat. Given the high financial demands associated with the playing in the premier league, clubs indicate with one voice that they cannot cope unless the situation changes.

Teams indicate that they are not prepared to traverse a rather uncomfortable route where a broadcaster beams their games at no costs.  In fact, in the past premier league board meeting held over the weekend, they posed endless questions about a contract signed in May 2015. This publication is informed that the now under fire board chairperson Jagdish Shah was assigned to take the matter with the seriousness it deserves or the games will temporarily stop.

Some however point an accusing finger at the then premier league leadership for ‘taking eyes off the ball’ during what was seen as a gruesome phase of negotiations. WeekendSport gathers that payment terms agreed on 2015, fell with each passing football season. In the 2015-16 season BFA and DBS agreed that P8 million be generated, P7 million for the following 2016-17 season while P6 million was for this 2017-18 season. All this total P21 million for the last three years.

Nobody knows exactly why the other two seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20) are to be played without financial benefits, but corridor talks has it that this was merely a strategy to keep the long standing television broadcast channel on board so as to strengthen relations.  “For the 2018-2019 and 2019-20 seasons- there shall be no payments by DBS,” reads part of the contract in clause 9. However, informants state that the premier league is busy cajoling unnamed broadcaster to produce and beam their games.

While all dynamics behind the BTV deal points to a bleak future, discussions between the two parties are however said to be ongoing to try and help the situation. Clifford Mogomotsi, a board member representing struggling Mochudi Center Chiefs said no club will be happy to play without financial benefits from the television. “Obviously no club will like to play for fun, this is a deal that has been there for some time, but they are administrators working nonstop to address it,’’ he explained.

In July of last year, both DBS and BFA were said to be comprehensively tackling the issue. Although premier league Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thabo Ntshinogang at the time denied these proceedings, WeekendSport established that the two had previously tried to work out something.  It is said there was no clear head way in manoeuvring the last two years of the contract. However, it is said Btv showed signs of willingness to adopt whatever proposal BPL might present.

Informants say the state-owned broadcast channel management has requested the local football federation to furnish them with any suggestion they feel comfortable with. Sources further claimed that premier league might now consider partnering with another television production company- a procedure that will eventually see Btv buying the production feed. This is motivated by the fact that BTV, often times, complains of lack of capacity particularly when dealing with midweek fixtures.

BTV, according to those close to developments, is ready for whatever decisions BPL takes. Their inability to broadcast a maximum of 60 games as per the contract between BPL and headline sponsors, inadvertently forces them to accept a third party, sources claim. The production quality of Btv is also a subject of heated discussion.

In the past, the premier league engaged one South African based company called RP production to work with BTV. SuperSport is another broadcaster that is highly considered in dealing with the issue of capacity. Whatever the decision, BPL management are urged to address the matter before long.

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Sport

GU wins title after 13 years

23rd May 2022
GU

Gaborone United was this week crowned 2021/2022 Botswana Premier League (BPL) champions following their 1-0 win over the holders, Jwaneng Galaxy. Thero Setsile’s 13th minute’s goal was enough to seal the league championship, ending 13 years of drought from the Old Naledi outfit.

With two games to go before the top-flight season wraps up, Gaborone United opened a seven points gap to second placed Township Rollers having accumulated 63 points from twenty eight games. The Money machine were the first team to open a new chapter in the history books of Botswana football, when they were crowned the inaugural 2008/09 be Mobile Premiership champions, that came up with P1 million as prize money. Thereafter the club has been on the league drought as it could only manage winning Coca Cola FA Cup in 2012, Mascom top 8 twice in 2013 and 2015. They also won the Orange FA cup last season.

The return of Zackhem as the club financier signaled a new era with a number of galactic signings for the 2021/2022 season. The team brought into their fold big names in local football; Kekaetswe Moloi, Lesego Galenamotlhale and Joel Mogorosi. The arrival of enterprising left wing back Mothusi Johnson, dribbling wizard Mpho Kgaswane and hard tackling midfielder, Lebogang Ditsele made the job easier for the coaches.

Attacker Onkabetse Makgantai also joined the marauding attackers in Thatayaone Kgamanyane and Thero Setsile to make their front line combination the deadliest in the league. Both Kgamanyane and Setsile have netted 34 goals this season with the goal minder Goitseone Phoko keeping 20 clean sheets thus far while conceding just 10 goals. GU is still on the Orange FA Cup race and football commentators believe that they are the favorites looking at the quality of their squad.

As it stands should the Money Machine win all their remaining games, they stand a chance to equal the highest championship winning points record of 76 points which set by Mochudi Center chiefs during the 2007-2008 football season. That record stood for 14 years and Gaborone United could equal that feat should they win their remaining games against Sua Flamingos and struggling Notwane. The Money Machine made the bold statement begging of the 2021/2020 football season when they won 11 games straight games without even conceding a goal.

The Reds, who are under the guidance of Innocent Morapedi, a seasoned coach and his assistant Pontsho Moloi, has been consistent in the title race. In the process, the Old Naledi side has scored 59 goals while conceding the least goals (10 goals) and has a superior goal difference of 49 goals. Gaborone United success breaks Township Rollers and Mochudi Center Chiefs dominance as the only teams to have won the league title more than any other club in the last 13 seasons. GU’s proximity to money and talent were key this season.

Domestically since GU last won the league title, Mochudi Center Chiefs have won it three times; whilst the most decorated football club with 16 titles, Rollers has been dominating the league, winning five titles on the spin in five seasons from 2013-14 to 2018-19.  Last season, Jwaneng Galaxy was crowned champions for the very first time due to being at the top of the table when the novel coronavirus pandemic forced the season to be prematurely halted with ten games to play.

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Sport

Softball returns to play

23rd May 2022
Softball

After two years of no action across various sports codes including softball, Botswana Softball Association (BSA) is going back to the grounds to resuscitate the sport.

This weekend all roads lead to Selibe Phikwe for the top eight ladies championship. The eight ladies teams comprise the top four ladies teams from the south and north regions. They will then come together and form eight teams and battle it out this weekend at the Phikwe Softball Grounds and Area 2 Mowana Ball Park. The competing ladies teams are Titans, Police, Vikings, UB Giants, Rail giants, Scramblers, Carats and Ghetto Yankees. The champions will be crowned thereafter.

Softball Association Public relations officer, Boingotlo Marope explained that this tournament is not only for ladies, she said men’s championship will be held at Gaborone on the 28th May 2022.  She said they have noticed that everything is confined to Gaborone as their headquarters in the southern region. As a result they have decided to take other activities to the northern region as well. “We are trying to grow softball, we don’t want everything to surround Gaborone only which is why the ladies tournament will be held at Selebi Phikwe in the northern region to bring equality.”

However, she explained that the reason they were missing in action is because of Covid 19. “We saw government cautionary trying to protect everyone by putting certain restrictions as spots had to stop for 12 months, we welcomed 12 months to protect Batswana. As a results that lead to the closure as there were no games”.

In addition Marope said they currently don’t have sponsors however private sector has always come through. Bofinet has to cut the sponsorship but that is not due to Covid 19 crisis. “Bofinet has showed commitment, they promised that as soon as they are settled they will come to our door knocking again,” she added.

Marope further said as a results they rely on their tight budget. Few of players has been sponsored, some has to dig from their own pockets, some parents cannot sent their children as some had to quit. “We have worked with our tight budget to assist teams and hoping that in the coming season we can have somebody to assist”.

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Sport

Botswana ranked 4th in Zone 4 boxing tourney

4th May 2022
Boxing

The Botswana national boxing team recently returned from the zone 4 championship held in Mozambique. The team was led by head coach Thebe Setlalekgosi, two assistant coaches, Gibson Rauwe and Pearl Mooketsi. Two referees and judges, Gaseitsewe Ponatshego and Linda Mooketsi.

In the women’s category, Lethabo Modukanele was representing Botswana in the 48 kg division, while Phekie Bele and Sadie Kenosi were competing in the 57 kg and 60 kg categories, respectively. In the men’s category, Kobamelo Molatlhegi was representing the country in the 52 kg division, while Rajab Mahomed was competing in the under 51 kg category.George Molwantwa was competing for under 57 kg category and Treasure Moremi was competing for under 60kg category.

The boxers came home with seven medals, Modukanele came home with a gold medal, Kenosi, Rajab, Molatlhegi all came home with silver medals. While Moremi, Molwantwa and Phekie Bele all came home with bronze medals.

According to Moitshepi Nkabiti, the public relations officer of the Botswana Boxing Association, the team performed well and that they were hoping that Rajab would also bring home a gold medal. However, due to an eye injury, he could not participate in the finals.

He stated that, “though some people might think that how our team performed is not an achievement it is a big achievement to us. Other countries came with 19 boxers while we only came with our seven boxers, and they all came back with medals. That is something that we have to be proud of I really commend them for their performance. Having 5 players making it to the finals is really a blessing and we should not take it for granted.”

According to Nkabiti, Botswana was ranked fourth in the zone 4 championship, which was held in Mozambique. Other countries that participated in the tournament included South Africa, Zambia, Eswatini, and Seychelles. They all had a total of 19 boxers. Lesotho also had eight boxers.

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