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SPEDU bid to host Toyota 1000km Desert Race

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SPEDU, Dr Mokubung Mokubung announced recently at the Orange Phikwe Marathon Reception Dinner that the SPEDU Region will put in a bid to host the next Toyota 100km Desert Race(TDR) in an effort to diversify sport tourism.

Dr Mokubung said that SPEDU has taken a good firm look at how they can deliver economic diversification promise that their name carries by not only seeking to diversify the regional economy through sport tourism, but to also diversify sport tourism itself.

“Critical stakeholders in the SPEDU Region plan to expand the Region’s sport tourism portfolio by adding to it the Toyota 1000km Desert Race which holds the record of being Botswana’s biggest sporting and social event of the year,” announced Dr Mokubung, who noted that putting up a bid to host the event is a bold move and an ambitious undertaking on which he hopes to receive support from all stakeholders to make the bid successful.

Dr Mokubung’s words might have warmed up the heart of the Town Mayor, Molosiwa Molosiwa who had earlier on in his welcome remarks asked President Mokgweetsi Masisi to help them achieve their dream of hosting Mantshwabisi as the TDR is popularly known.

Reportedly, the race will this year be held in Gantsi Region, moving away from Jwaneng which has been home for the much loved off-road motor spectacle for the past years after moving from Mantshwabisi. With SPEDU company flexing its muscle to skew the axis to SPEDU Region, it remains to be seen which region will host one the biggest regional off-road races which is regarded a curtain raiser for the Dakar Rally.

The SPEDU executive revealed that the World Trade Organisation recognises sport tourism as an emerging market and classifies sport as the number one industry in the leisure sector and therefore it is incumbent upon the Region “to seize this transformative business potential with both hands.”

He said the SPEDU Region has all the fundamentals in place, wide open areas, suitable terrain, adequate infrastructure and facilities that can accommodate visitors, a town that has amassed a wealth of experience in hosting an international sport event in the form of the IAAF accredited Phikwe National Marathon and a warm-hearted welcoming community. These fundamentals, Dr Mokubung said gives them confidence that the Region can host the next TDR and to that end, the region will definitely put in a bid to host the event.

“Our expectation is that the Desert Race will compliment what the marathon already does for SPEDU Region which is empower local traders, create employment, provide a marketing platform for companies, serve as a stakeholder map to deliver the marathon on an annual basis, connect Selebi Phikwe with surrounding villages, promote the town as an investment destination and create a relationship between the local business community, general public as well as with the private and public sector,” he said.

About Phikwe National Marathon
The CEO stated that as part of the Tourism Development Strategy for the SPEDU Region, events have been prioritised to stimulate the economy and Phikwe National Marathon is to be held every year without fail. He commended President Masisi for investing the prestige of his office in the Orange Phikwe National Marathon by being its patron, saying that the president’s patronage will in turn enhance the prestige of the marathon and attract both runners and investors to Selebi Phikwe.

Dr Moubung commended Orange for its support and promised that while this year was Orange‘s final year of the three year sponsorship, SPEDU and Selebi Phikwe Town Council (SPTC) will continue to support the race and further assist in identifying other sponsors for the sporting event which forms part of the town’s history which needs to be preserved by holding the event every year.

“Hosting an IAAF accredited marathon demands a substantial amount of choreography that plays itself out over an extended period of time. In that regard, I want to thank the Local Organising Committee for the hard work and dedication that its members have put in to deliver a marathon of this magnitude. This marathon is an international event and by that measure alone, affirms our status as international citizens,” said Dr Mokubung.

He commended the Organising Committee further noting that the committee’s diligence in putting the marathon together has made the people of Selebi Phikwe, SPEDU Region and Batswana in general to look good to the world, further pointing out that the experience gained by committee members can be transferred to other event management projects of similar nature.

Other SPEDU sponsored events that have been held in the SPEDU Region across various sectors include the games for parastatals under the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, Maunatlala Agricultural Show, Bobonong Agricultural Show, Selebi Phikwe Softball Extravaganza Tournament, Mmadinare Agricultural Show, Selebi Phikwe Trade and Exhibition Show and Tour de Tuli.

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Sport

City turns to BFA tribunal over relegation

23rd November 2021
Premier league players

Botswana Football Association (BFA) arbitration tribunal is set to hear a case in which Molepolole City Stars is challenging the 2019-20 football season curtailment that led to their untimely relegation. The season was abruptly ended amid the ravaging COVID-19 scourge when the government decided to place the whole country under lockdown.

In particular, City Stars, under Somerset Gobuiwang, challenges the rationale and fairness of the association to end the league when there were several options to pursue. The club does not want to contest the authority of the national executive committee to stop the league but argues that the decision to relegate them based on the log standing was unfair, irrational and unreasonable.

Moreover, the decision was against the spirit of the game and not the most appropriate one under circumstances where they were still about 10 league games to play. As the papers were submitted, City Stars argues that the most appropriate step would have been to suspend the league and protect the league standing. “The league would then resume when it was safe to do so, as indeed it is happening now, with the log standings maintained as they were,” the court papers read.

The team, which was languishing at the bottom of the table when the decision was taken, also argues and gives an alternative that the league could have ended without relegation issues. City Stars argues, “This would be in recognition of the undeniable facts that the league was not complete and that the log standings at the time were not in any way an indicator of how they would have been had the league been allowed to run its course.”

Furthermore, Molepolole City Stars are livid that the association did not consider that the complainant had valid contracts with its staff and players and that such agreement could not be terminated abruptly. On the one hand, BFA said it was looking at three options before ending the league. Facts and scenarios informed each decision, and one was independent of the other, it was argued.

The first option, BFA says, was to stop the league where it was and crown the team that occupied the first place, which was Jwaneng Galaxy. Furthermore, three teams lying at the bottom of the table would be relegated, and teams on pole positions from Debswana First Division north and south will be promoted automatically.

By all accounts, the association felt it was a controversial option to undertake but also fairer for the sake of progress. The second available possibility was to stretch the season and consequently change the football calendar. “There has been a shelved proposal that recommends the change of our season from the usual August-May calendar to February – November because of health reasons,” BFA president MacLean Letshwiti said before making the decision.

The last possibility was to nullify all the leagues. This was — and continued to be — the last resort. Across all the global leagues, the domestic campaign had only 10 matches left, which could, in theory, be completed in the space of five weeks. In the end, BFA feels that a decision had to be made for the sake of progress. The dates of the hearing are yet to be made public.

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Sport

Is it time to take Piro serious?

23rd November 2021
GU

Pontsho Moloi’s character and football standing as a young coach have embodied simplicity and hard work for far too long. Moloi is a local bred coach who has so far threatened foreign gaffers with his coaching philosophy, a style that is exciting and irking football purists in equal measure.

As Moloi is famously known in football circles, Piro has coached a few different clubs in the homeland, but his stewardship of Gaborone United last season — going into the new one- remains his best memorable achievement ever. Before the 2019-20 season was stopped because of the COVID-19 outbreak, GU was one of the league’s favourites.

But as any self-respecting purveyor of sporting cliché knows, it is never a bad idea to keep quiet and let your football do the talking. The only hanging problem for Piro is that he has often wanted to let his talking do the talking — which is a shame since, by and large, his football, both as a player and coach, has spoken loudly enough.

Piro’s coaching resume is fascinating and worth the test for a coach whose career is barely two years old. He has presided over big guns, one staggeringly good debut top-flight campaign, one freewheeling title charge, and one dramatic league season. Yet throughout, he has continued to serve as a punch line, painted by a substantial cohort.

Now, three games into the current season, his Gaborone United side sit at the top of the pile, having won all their games and remarkably keeping a clean sheet. No team has scored more goals than Piro’s side. Is Botswana football finally ready to recognize Piro as an elite-level coach? In fact, why has it not done so already?

The answer is not straightforward, regardless of what some of his harsher detractors would want to believe, although it is true that he has often failed to do himself any favours when a microphone has been aimed his way. In today’s culture, it only takes one slip of the tongue — one tiny sound bite lacking in self-awareness — to make you look silly.

Piro’s model has worked across the board: promotion-chasing minnow, sleeping giant, trophy-hovering Goliath figure, and now an aspirational upper-middleweight.

In each instance, he has found a new gear, improved his team beyond expectation and created a side better than the sum of its parts, at least for a time. Young and veteran players excel under his watch. Attackers — especially hard-running and bloodthirsty centre-forwards, Thatayaone Kgamanyane — flourish like never before. And for once, he has needed big money to make significant progress. Yet even at United, the least tangibly successful of his last three jobs and one where things went downhill towards the end, he put together sensationally exciting teams.

Now at GU, pundits still ask whether he will last longer at the top or he will soon fall. His demonstrations this season speak volumes about winning a bigger and better trophy this season. Can he deliver, or time will tell? Part of the answer will come as the season wears on.

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Sport

GU, Rollers – early favorites

16th November 2021
Rollers & GU

Football giants Township Rollers and Gaborone United have emerged as early favourites to win the newly refined Botswana Football League (BFL), following a perfect start to the season.   

There is a sense of relief from different quarters that this new football season, still striving to secure a title sponsor, is set to be packed with more excitement and action than anticipated. Seasons’ never-ending transfer rumour mill, coupled with half-paced friendlies, have their place in football, but they were indeed only going to be a tasty little snack before the sumptuous banquet, which is a new season.

Each team has played three games. At the time of going to print, Gaborone United, driven by local gaffers Innocent Morapedi and Pontso Moloi, remains in pole position with 9 points, maintaining an unbeaten record. The club also holds another record as only to club yet to concede. Also, on pole position is Township Rollers, who remain of the favourites to clinch the title come season end.

Languishing at the bottom of the log is Extension Gunners. The Lobatse based outfit have already pressed panic buttons by sacking their coach. It is still early days, but it appears The Peleng Boys, as they are affectionately called, are suffering early relegation season syndrome. They have played three games and are still struggling to find a win, let alone finding the back of the net.

Big guns like Orapa United and Jwaneng Galaxy have tried to bolster their squads but have failed to stamp authority in their first three encounters. Galaxy look set to be a better team, but two registered wins and a loss may as well betray this standing belief. Orapa, on the other hand, has grouped experienced players in their camp. Die-hard followers hope that this may be a fruitful season, but a midweek loss against Police XI in their backyard leaves followers questioning the readiness of their technical team as the season gets hot.

Township Rollers are breathing heavily on Gaborone United backs. The two teams now becoming rivals are equal on points, but much of the scrutiny is on GU, whose defence might be critical to this year’s championship.  The need for news and views — not to mention wins in Lobatse and Francistown or wherever will once again become the all-consuming passion in many football lovers’ lives. Some had reason to be happier than most. That is why Sua Flamingoes and Masitaoka are ecstatic for their first 2021 victories.

A logical decree is that the Premier League’s usual suspects will have it all their way again. Talent galore and bottomless pockets of cash were enough to ensure yet more silverware ends up in already crammed trophy cabinets. The cream, as they say, always tends to rise to the top. Week 1 of this first half-season was the most interesting one. Eighteen goals were scored, and Thatayaone Kgamanyane of GU became the first player to score a Premier League goal this season.

Premier League Chief Executive Officer Solomon Ramochothwane believes this will be the most competitive season of recent seasons. “It is tight and competitive, and we might have a new champion at the end,” he opined. He also expressed happiness that numbers will grow at the stadiums as time goes on. But beyond the shadow of a doubt, the return of Premier League fourth round — as remarkable as the first three laps — will signal several months of nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat tension.

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