The Chairperson for Selebi Phikwe Regional Football Association, Barulaganye Moloi says Nico United Football Club still has a bright future despite having relegated to First Division during the 2016/17 season. The team failed to gain promotion back into the BTC premiership as they finished 6th last season but Moloi is convinced that United is not yet into terminal decline.
Addressing Nico United’s Annual General Meeting last weekend, the Regional Football Administrator called on the team’s supporters to rally behind management to help the team ascend back to the top where it belongs. He said that football administration is not a simple task, but a difficult one that needs tenacity and passion for the sport if one is to excel in it. “It is humbling to see that we still have dedicated people who are interested in helping run the club at this point where the team is faced with many challenges. Let us create an environment that will enable people to be interested in helping us,” he said.
He urged management to forge ahead and vigorously seek financial support from individuals to businesses. Until 2016, Majombolo, as the team is affectionately known, had stable financial backing from BCL Mine but when operations were stopped, the team faced its worst financial crisis which led to 13 players leaving the club for greener pastures. The crisis saw Nico United suffering their first relegation in 12 years, tumbling out of the BTC Premiership after finishing second from the bottom.
Moloi says that with enough support from both the fans and financiers, United can emerge stronger than before. He says Nico United’s survival is critical for Selebi Phikwe and the region as it the team which could give the younger players an opportunity for growth and to experience football at a premiership stage.
He further urged the club to form partnerships with local teams in the lower division where the lower division teams develop players to feed into Nico squad. He emphasised that clubs should be interested in grooming players for upper levels of football and therefore a partnership arrangement of this nature can be beneficial to both contracting partners. Moloi stressed the importance of development, noting that “when you teach kids your culture as a team at an early stage, they grow up loving the team wholeheartedly.”
Nico United Chairman, Ace Masoja also reiterated that a successful Nico United is important in the development of players in Selebi Phikwe. He pointed out that the management committee that he leads is committed to help the club achieve promotion back to the championship. He said if this fails, what will be important is to preserve First Division status and avoid at all cost to relegate further to third tier football.
He reported that the technical bench will still be manned by Peter Muchina as Head Coach assisted by Sunday Kelebale as the team believes that the duo will be able to guide Majombolo to the league’s safety or even gain promotion. “There are those who watch and celebrate when we are perceived to have made mistakes and there are those who travel with us, endure the hardship and celebrate the achievements, and not our shortcomings,” said Masoja, appealing for unity and trust amongst the members of Nico United.
“With everyone’s help, we can unify this team to win and build Selebi Phikwe where we will rise together, a club where we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. We believe that if we work together, work hard enough and believe in ourselves, the whole Nico United family will be inspired to rise and be happy again,” he said.
Another optimist who believes Nico can bounce back forcefully provided it secures sustainable financial support, is the club’s former chairperson, Mothusi Taolo who pledged his full support to the current management team. Taolo highlighted the importance of supporting management as opposed to unwarranted criticism which does not build the club. He noted that a number of management teams from various clubs endured unbearable and unconstructive criticism being accused of failing the team but the same teams continued to experience difficulties even with the change of guard.
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.
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.
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.
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.