BPL benchmarks from South Africa’s PSL
A delegation from Botswana Premier League (BPL) has set off to neighbouring South Africa on a benchmarking mission as a way of it improving the local game. The delegation will pick the brains of Premier Soccer League (PSL) master minds.
The meeting is the second of its kind since the new BFA administration assumed power with the first discussion having been held by President MacLean Letshwiti in the company of SAFA President Danny Jordan, early last year. This publication has been informed that the two parties are expected to exchange discussions of bettering the game where Botswana is anticipated to be the main beneficiary. In the same meeting, WeekendSport has learnt, PSL chairman Irvin Khoza, also owner of Orlando Pirates, will be present to pitch some ideas.
Sources further say the BPL delegation which is still calling for corporate identity in football has dreams to change the fortunes of the domestic game once and for all. The delegation is anticipated to watch the game between Bidvest Wits and Cape Town City and embark on a ‘behind the scene’ tour.
At the top of the agenda, reports suggest, the BPL is more focused in turning the premier league into an attractive spectacle where sponsors can fight to be associated with the game. The league to this point has only two sponsors, Botswana Telecommunication Corporation (BTC) as the title sponsors as well as Mascom Wireless who powers the Top 8 competition.
Moreover, reports say the BPL delegation will also bring up the issue of the local premier league which is currently pushing for autonomy. This is anticipated to open BFA files and analyse the model they deem fit to help the league administer its own affairs. Late last year, the task committee presented the case for ‘BPL independence’ with case studies from Kenya and South Africa’s premier leagues for the National Executive Committee to choose an appropriate model. It was however believed that the choice will ultimately come from one of the two.
Informants have however somewhat expressed concern over the delay by the Association as the matter is lying unattended at Lekidi football centre. But on the other hand, BFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mfolo Mfolo has said his association is looking to come with a blue print to help teams to attract sponsors.
The current status quo in Botswana is that, the league board is made of sixteen premier league chairpersons, there is a board executive committee which the premier league chairman and his vice are part of. There is also a chief executive officer who happens to head the league secretariat.
Although the league‘s dream of standing alone from the BFA comes from afar, it is widely reported that this time around Letshwiti is eager to leave no stone unturned in efforts to give his NEC and the BPL a positive answer. The bench marking move now answers the long standing premier league intentions of roping in former General Manager of the South African Premier Soccer League, Derek Blanckensee. He is believed to have held talks with Botswana Football Association (BFA) about possibilities of him becoming the next Botswana Premier League’s head of secretariat.
He is one of the most experienced administrators in football, had been with the PSL since 2010 to July of last year. Among other tasks, he fine-tuned the PSL match operations in line with international Fifa standards. He gained extensive knowledge as CEO of Bidvest Wits, with his administration career having started back in 1978 when he was the secretary of the Wits University Junior Football Club. Blanckensee, who took over from Ace Ncobo, was the 2010 Fifa World Cup local organizing committee’s chief competitions officer and his duties included overseeing stadium readiness, team services, venue management and tournament operations.
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AFRICAâ€™S RECOVERY: Sports as game changer
The year 2022 witnessed unprecedented phenomena. Several Africans- Gotytom Gebreslase, Sharon Lokedi, Victor Kiplangat, Tamarit Tola and many others- swept the Worldâ€™s marathons records.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting control measures implemented in several countries, led to many high-level sports competitions being cancelled or shelved, the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games was moved to 2026.
Founder and Executive Chairman, African Sports and Creative Institute, Will Mabiakop, says the inability to hold traditional and amateur sports events have had a serious effect on public health overall, including mental health, sparking a revolution whereby athletes began to talk more openly about stress, mental overload and performance anxiety.
â€śAfrica is home to the fastest growing economies before the crisis, no longer on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COVID-19 deepened interdependence between SDGs, making them harder to achieve, especially SDG 10 (reducing inequality) and SDG 5 (gender equality_ as the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on poorer countries, and heavier burdens (such as care work) fell to women.â€ť
Mabiakop stresses that as policymakers contemplate actions to speed up recovery and build resilience, they must argue that sports and creative businesses should play a central feature in this effort.
â€śThe sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africaâ€™s sports and creative industries can offer policymakers innovative solutions. Especially, as regards job creation, and providing employment to the 15 million people entering the job market annually.â€ť
HOW CAN THE INDUSTRY DO THIS?
By leveraging the two-for-one concept: past studies shown that a 1% growth in the economy delivers a 2% job increment in this sector (these ratios are calculated using data from 48 African countries and adjusted to the reality of the sports economy in Africa by the authors). There are between 30 and 50 job types, in sports and creative industries, respectively. These jobs do not fade away with the first major shock.
Mabiakop indicated that policymakers can use these industries to tackle multiple crises- jobs, poverty, and climate risks. Sports diplomacy- defined as communication, representation and negotiation in or through the prism of sports- has proven effective in building inclusive and cohesive societies. Moreover, sports and the creative industry can support better mental health and well-being, both important for productivity.
â€śPolicymakers can also be true to the game by leveraging culture and tradition to celebrate identity and reap commercial value in sports, textiles and jewelry. Creative sectors allow deeper connection with culture, are not easily copied and provide great economic potential.â€ť
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. â€śFortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.â€ť
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. â€śFirst avoid build it and they will come policies with infrastructures denuded from the rest of the ecosystem. Like the many sports stadiums left largely unused.â€ť
â€śPolicymakers must remain mindful of how these sectors move the needle in human capital development. Also, align the requisite public policies needed for progress from grassroots participation to professional sports, and even to international sporting events. They should also support investment instruments to render these sectors performant.â€ť