Premier League: 224 games, 7 coaches axed
Patience is not so much of a virtue after all, that is if the on goings in the Botswana Premier League (BPL) is anything to go by. With only one match before the league reaches half way phase, a total of 7 coaches have either left their jobs or were sacked following a string of poor results.
What is ironical about the firing and hiring of coaches is that-all the coaches are just being rotated amongst the same teams! It is not clear whether the coaches leave in chase of better offers or players and complicating matters for them and in turn making it harder for them to stay at their respective teams.
However, there is that unnerving history of mid-season upheaval. Retreat into the recent past, not least when coaches’ relationships with club owners, fractured beyond repair. The classical case is that of Bongani Mafu with Mochudi Centre Chiefs. The coach is now employed by Orapa United, but before finding greener pastures, he complained time and again about unpaid dues.
With Magosi, the sight of the Kgatleng club languishing slightly off the pace did not render the coach’s position increasingly untenable. He simply terminated the contract. However, Keitumetse Paul, Raizer Tsatsilebe and Paul Moyo were dismissed with their team – albeit sides benefiting from the strong and influential backbone established properly by themselves during their first spell in charge.
Paul, popular known as Pio in football circles played a pivotal role in the promotion of Sharps Shooting Stars into the elite league. Information differed regarding his exit move, some saying the club took a decision through a move bordering on disciplinary issues while others say he outright rejected the club’ contract offer.
Paul is now with Notwane Football Club, plying his trade at the lower tier of First Division South. He is allegedly running the Technical Directors’ portfolio. On one hand however, Premier League rookies, Uniao Flamengo Santos are said to be dangling a bigger carrot before him, in hopes to prize him away.
Suffering the same fate as Paul is Tsatsilebe. He enjoyed a roller coaster ride with Black Forest a season ago, but the Motswana mentor was to suffer a second season syndrome with the club. Moyo’s stay with Santos was as short as a hobbit, his experience as a seasoned coach failed to pay dividends.
Up north, Maxwell Moyo might be cursing the day he signed a contract with Tafic Football Club. He has been shown the door while awaiting his work permit. Competition amongst teams is certainly at its lowest largely because players have a hard time in adapting to coaches philosophies as they come and go.
This is not normal, and it appears that Madinda Ndlovu’s sordid sacking at Orapa United is having the same effect on the team’s performance. If United are making a change, it must be time for everyone else to consider their options too. Except that one only has to look at the top of the Premier League to know that is not really the case. Ndlovu, after his fall, returned home to coach Zimbabwean giants FC Highlanders.
Worse still, Jwaneng Galaxy parted ways with their arguably best coach in history, Mike Sithole. He won the Top 8 tournament the first time after taking over as coach, and the Zimbabwean gaffer was about to take the team through the often difficult route of CAF championships. Clubs these days prefer to have coaches who do not stay for longer periods. Everything else revolves around results and whether they come or not, coaches do not have to overstay.
Changing coaches on a regular basis prevents players and fans from getting bored with the same formula every week and there is not the same sense of failure when a coach comes to the end of his contract and moves on to another club. Good coaches tend to move upwards, the not so good ones either stay at their respective teams or ship out, but with a high proportion of clubs making changes each close of season there are plenty of employment opportunities and a healthy circulation of fresh ideas, some have suggested.
When commenting on the matter, Senior National Team Coach David Bright said the problem lies with club management. He is of the view that, “a coach cannot be fired in the middle of the season while he has actually made a plan for the entire season.” He further said players are left confused and this kills the standard of football. On another related matter, Bright admitted that most premier league clubs believe more on foreign coaches who always struggle to understand local players.
From Orapa United to Highlanders FC
From Jwaneng Galaxy, now club-less
From Sharps to Notwane/Santos
Centre Chiefs to Orapa United
Miscellaneous to Orapa United
Black Forest to Tafic
Tafic, now club-less
Santos, now club-less
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AFRICA’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 World’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.
“Africa 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.”
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.
“The sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africa’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.”
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.
“Policymakers 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.”
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. “Fortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.”
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. “First 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.”
“Policymakers 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.”