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Centre Girl: LebotseSebego’s Harrison Hoist move

Tebogo LebotseSebego (PCH) netball story epitomizes a race well run. She took over as the presidency of the Botswana Netball Association (BONA) in 2007, at a challenging time for Netball with the sport code considered to be the delinquent child of the then Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) now Commission.

LebotseSebego steps down ten years later, and almost every sport person looks at Netball with envy – administratively sound and there are results to that effect. In her own words, the now former President of BONA, LebotseSebego says, “Fast forward to 2017 and Netball is that model child who brought Botswana its very first world event. So definitely my time with Netball has been successful.” One could apply the analogy that when she ascended to BONA presidency, LebotseSebego applied the Harrison Hoist move – in netball it when a one defender lifts another to get more elevation during a jump. It was named after defender Anna Harrison who pulled off the move in Australia 2012.

A number of those who have worked with LebotseSebego point to her team effort approach, she motivated the help of those around her to elevate the Netball sport. They point out that as soon as netball found its footing, she held firm onto the holding position and directed the sport’s proceeding like a netball player will dictate the passing game from the centre court. LebotseSebego started playing netball in 1984 and her first call up for national team was for Under 21 in 1995. She only stopped playing the sport she loves in 2003 and became BONA President in 2007.

During her reign as President of BONA the sport has recorded key achievements including hosting of the Netball World Youth Championships in 2017 where team Botswana got position 9;

During the leadership of LebotseSebego BONA has managed seven players under Zebra Elite Scholarship; she masterminded the attainment of the SPAR partnership; Over 500 Technical Officials trained on international standards during her leadership; and 20 coaches and 10 umpires internationally graded.

According to the former BONA president, other codes can learn a lot from netball, “they can learn that it is important to retain and support leaders who is delivering beyond the 1st term of office to ensure successful execution of initiates started. From me personally they could learn to stay away from the sports politics, be firm, frank and fair.”

Speaking directly to her decision to step down, Madam President as she was affectionately known in some quarters points out that, “this was a decision made in 2013 when my 2nd term started. One of the things we did in 2009 was to revise the Constitution of BONA to have a defined term of office to 2 terms of 4 years. I believe that it was time for me to step forward and for someone with a different focus to come and take netball to the next level,” she said. Interestingly LebotseSebego’s time to step down coincided with the Botswana Olympic committee (BNOC) elections where she launched a serious campaign for Presidency. In the end she was not successful, but she says she is very glad that she put up her hand.

She had assembled an all-woman team for the BNOC elections, of which she says, “I am even more pleased that I went in with a women only team #BokgoniFela. We forced a conversation on the gender skewed leadership, not just in sport but in other spheres. Personally I learnt that sports leaders are NOT ready for female leaders who do not conform or sort of become “honorary men” or play “the game” to be elected into office. I am speaking of me personally and how I felt and this is not meant to imply that any of the women who raised their hands and were elected into office conformed. We managed to get into office 3 very capable women and I wish that we had managed to get at least one more into the more senior positions.”

Despite her unsuccessful bid at the BNOC, LebotseSebego says she is definitely not lost to sport. “Locally I will support as much as I can all codes in areas I am able to influence. I am still the President of Africa Netball and also a Board Director for the International Netball Federation.” The President of the Republic, Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama bestowed LebotseSebego with a Presidential Certificate of Honour (PCH). She is very proud of this recognition, a personal achievement she treasures: “Becoming Tebogo LebotseSebego PCH will remain something I will treasure forever. I am grateful to His Excellency for having bestowed that honor on me.”

With such an honour to her name, what if the Minister of Sport Youth and Culture could decide to appoint her the BNSC chairperson, “Perhaps I would be a bit uneasy if the Minister would hand pick me to lead sport after sports leaders did not vote me in for an important role in sports. However, I would accept the appointment, because sports is a public institution and it is for all people in Botswana and not just the privilege or right of sports leaders. So if the Minister considered me capable for a key role to lead sports, I would accept that role and give it my best.”

One of LebotseSebego’s concerns is that as a country Botswana still relies too much on volunteers to administer sports. “We need more people working full time for sports and for the sports leaders to bring in the strategic knowledge and expertise. With the way we are structured at present, I am of the opinion that we will be delayed to reach our full potential as a sporting nation.”

Madam President’s partying shot is straight to the point: “As is Government is the biggest contributor to sports. The private sector contribution is growing but we need to make it conducive for the private sector to increase its contribution. Also as sporting codes we need to profile and position such that the private sector sees value and want partnerships with sports.”

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Sport

Sebego challenges BFA constitution

13th October 2021
Tebogo Sebego

Botswana Football Association (BFA) constitution appears to be under heavy scrutiny as Tebogo Sebego, the president of Notwane Sporting club, questions its authenticity, with strong indications that several clauses were removed and others added without the input of the General Assembly.

Sebego, who vied for the BFA presidency in October 2020, feels Notwane is a bonafide member of BFA and has been participating in the past three BFA assemblies but cannot be part of the mess that the club and others did not create. On 13th September 2021, Notwane forwarded a complaint letter to the football association’s chief executive officer (CEO), challenging how two constitutions were amended.

The club says a constitution dated 25th June 2021 and the other bearing a stamp of 10th December 2020 were amended under fraudulent circumstances and want an explanation on how it transpired. “We have recently received a constitution dated 25th June 2021 stamped by the registrar of societies. The said constitution carries some changes that were never discussed and voted upon at the BFA general assembly.

Of particular interest, we have noted that the following new amendments, Article 33 of the 2016 constitution, is replaced by article 30. The procedure has been reduced, but the principles remain the same. The relevance of this is to restate the constitutional culture and mandatory powers of the General Assembly as the sole body responsible for constitutional amendments,” part of the letter seen by this publication reads.

Article 33 that Sebego complains of reads thus, “The general assembly is responsible for amending the constitution and the standing orders of the general assembly.” Furthermore, Notwane argues that another article (22.1) of the 2021 constitution then wipes off the presence of 16 delegates from the Premier League clubs and eight representatives from the first division together with their voting rights.

The club believes that while the autonomy of the Botswana Football League (BFL) was approved in the 2020 General Assembly, the assembly never discussed, voted or approved the removal of delegates from the General Assembly. The team believes that the amendments are therefore unlawful for lack of authority from the General Assembly. This is the case because it has a significant impact on the landscape of the structure of the General Assembly, Notwane argues.

Moreover, Notwane’s shock is skyrocketing, especially when raising another equally screaming change in the constitution. In the letter state, the club states that article 33.4 of the 2021 constitution introduces a term limit for the president. The club speculates that the amendment seems to be carried from the 2019 version of the constitution, and whatever its genesis, the matter was never before the General Assembly.

“It is only the General Assembly that has powers, through the right constitutional channels to introduce a limitation on the term of the president and further to define the limitation based on the reasons presented to it,” the argument goes on. The old constitution was limited to at most two terms, but it seems the president can now enjoy the third term.

Sebego and Notwane argue that they have raised these articles to demonstrate that the constitution was amended without following due process in an unconstitutional, unlawful and somewhat fraudulent manner. They say this 2021 constitution and that of the 2019 version are, in their view, unlawful documents and should be reversed without delay.

The complaint letter was also copied to the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) desk and the registrar of societies — an organisation that issued a stamp on the constitutions in question. Notwane, in a parting shot, wants to be furnished with minutes that allowed the constitutional changes because, to their understanding, there was none.

It has come to the attention of this publication that Notwane had given the BFA head of secretariat seven days to have replied, but nothing has come out. However, neither party was available for comment as the paper was going to print.

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Sport

Cooper awaits FIFA decision 

13th October 2021
Mothusi' Mini' Cooper

A clash of personal egos, paper trail gone wrong and unfulfilled promises are the primary reasons Botswana international star player, Mothusi’ Mini’ Cooper is still on the fringes despite a vast of football talent at his disposal.

Cooper has suddenly become the centre of controversy after completing a dream move to Lusaka Power Dynamos in Zambia and adorned by many football lovers. His move left his parent club, Township Rollers, divided. Cooper left Rollers last season, but the club he was hoping to re-write his name into folklore has suddenly given him nightmares where he is now stuck on the way forward.

It is reported that the pint-sized midfielder has terminated his two-year contract with the Lusaka club after the club failed to fulfil the terms of the agreement. When cancelling the contract, Cooper was doing so with the hope that he would eventually re-united his old club, Township Rollers.

According to informants, Rollers high-ranking officials refused to accept Cooper back because Power Dynamos is yet to finish the transfer fee paid for the player. It is said that Rollers were reluctant to release the player, but his agent forced matters, consequently fracturing the relationship between the player and Rollers management.

Cooper was earning close to P 25 000 per month, but that lasted for a while. As things stand, the player was training with BDF XI to retain fitness level, but his future is yet to be thoroughly established. Rollers are believed to be reluctant to negotiate terms with him again, and that alone cast aspersions on the way forward. Had the player left on good terms, he would have been readily accepted back, sources claim.

From what this publication gathered, Rollers is still livid at how Cooper left the club, but what is more of a serious matter is the fractured relationship between the club and player agent. It is said that Rollers had failed to pay the agent his dues when Cooper was sold to Lusaka Power Dynamos.

While others within the Rollers executive committee believe this matter could be quickly resolved, the club is still awaiting paper documents filed at FIFA seeking Lusaka Power Dynamos to complete payment of the player. It is not yet clear how much is owed to Township Rollers, but what is apparent is that Dynamos has disappointed.

Cooper was on the wanted list of Orapa United, but the transfer window closed before anything tangible could be discussed.  Phemperetle Pheto, the spokesperson of Rollers, refused to shared details regarding Cooper matter. However, their chief executive officer Bennett Mamelodi indicated through the club’s online magazine that the case is before FIFA statutes and will be discussed soon.

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Sport

League returns October

5th October 2021
premier league players

After more than 550 days without competitive football game in the country, information gleaned from various sources indicates that the Botswana Football League (BFL) is expected to start the 2021/2022 football season not early or late October.

The resumption of the 2021/2020 season comes after a year and few months since March 2020. Local football was halted during the second round of 2019/2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  The ban on competitive sport aimed to keep the spread of the coronavirus disease under control. The pandemic had already forced the BFA executive committee to declare the 2020/2021 season null and void in March, citing that the resumption would have caused a fixture pile-up in a limited space of time.

In a brief interview with this publication, the newly appointed BFL Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Solomon Ramochotlhwane, said the preparations are ongoing for the football season.  “We are engaging all the relevant stakeholders such as the referees’ committee, teams, even Botswana Football Association (BFA)”.

Ramochotlhwane also revealed that all teams would be expected to test for COVID-19 every fortnight once the league has started. He further indicated that they have since written a letter through the mother body, BFA proposing the vaccination of all the players and technical team members. The Government vaccination rollout plan targets people aged 30 to 44, and BPL wants all players to be included in this age group.

However, Ramochotlhwane noted that they are currently waiting for a response from the health authorities concerning the vaccination of players and the technical teams.  Moreover, Ramochotlhwane indicated that they would use certified stadiums that meet the Confederation of African Football (CAF) standards. BFL, an organ established to run the elite league independently from the Botswana Football Association (BFA), is currently negotiating with former headline sponsors, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC).

Impeccable sources report that the two parties are considering a reunion to lift football from its knees. Information gleaned from various sources indicates that each party has amenability and willingness to re-engage, but there is nothing concrete to talk about at this stage. When commenting on the prospects of BTC coming on board to be headline sponsors, BPL CEO said sponsors need assurances that activities will go according to plan and would not risk committing their money into uncertainties.

Ramochotlhwane would not confirm any names but instead mentioned that they have a plan as BPL in place.   It is reported that the new BFL board of directors is quickly drawn to the side of local network giants who also have changed faces in their administrative and marketing wings. BFL is oozing with confidence after reports emerged that BTC’s profits have risen to P 832M. Meanwhile, it is reported that BFA National Executive Committee recently agreed to extend a P 5 million loan to the BFL to commence the 2021-22 football season.

The reported P5 million loan deal follows numerous attempts to secure sponsorship by the newly established BFL body but to no avail. The amount is meant to augment other sponsorship finances sourced thus far. As things stand, the BPL board is believed to have secured a P 6 million broadcast deal with Botswana Television (BTV) and have also closed files with Absa Bank on a reported P3 million deal. The 5 million BFA loan is an expected add-on to the overall P9 million already in the account of the BFL. The move, therefore, means that the 2021-22 football season will be powered at a value of P 14 million.

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