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Checkmate: As Chess Fed ‘rooks’ BNSC Awards path

There is no way to escape the Botswana Chess Federation’s mesmerizing organizational prowess and of course the smart performances recorded by chess players. Like a true Knight, the Chess Federation has become a special code at the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Awards.

In the three of the last five years, one of the best organized sport codes in the country has seen three of its administrators bestowed with the Best Sports Administrator Award at the prestigious BNSC Awards. One thing about Chess is that it is a very small community which generally has individuals of high or impeccable profiles. According to former Chess Federation president, Tshenolo Maruatona, the latest conquer in the Administrator of the Year award, “All the former and current chess players wield very impressive academic and professional profiles and these are individuals who generally are never lost to the game.”  

It was a spectacular weekend for the Chess body, it started with one of their former president, Tshepo Sitale being elected as Senior Vice President of the highly contested Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC). Sitale is one of the pioneer administrators of chess who propelled the Federation to recognition, his election this past weekend as BNOC Senior Vice President was a crowning moment of hard work and meticulous organisation.

Currently the chess elders who are the guide to the committee among others include Dr Marape Marape (former chess player and father to Naledi Marape), Dr Jerome Mafeni (the Chief Executive Officer of ACHAP); Mr Mboki Chilisa who is a practicing lawyer and a passionate chess player; Tshepo Sitale, a former Chess president and chess player. According to Maruatona, the list of advisors is endless. “In my opinion, these parents to a larger extent attribute their academic achievements and discipline to chess and they all want to see their kids following on their tracks. Hence their full involvement in the game. In the past 4 years, Botswana Chess Federation has managed to raise over P250 000 coming as sponsorships only from chess adults,” observed Maruatona.

Maruatona further observes that Chess players cannot imagine their life outside chess. He opines that it is a very intriguing game, very addictive and all they want to do is play chess. “So in essence chess players or enthusiasts will never engage in any activity that can put the game into disrepute. They have their differences but they protect the game at all cost. This is very important for any code. Chess players always want to see the game being played and the guard it with everything,” said the BNSC Administrator of the Year.

Just like in the chess game there is a Desperado, where a piece is captured anyway so it can "sacrifice" itself at the highest cost, chess players sacrifice their personal interests for the good of the game. If there is to be a Woodpusher among the chess family, that is a duffer or weak chess player, the team players will always support that person in the interest of the sport. Therefore, Maruatona shares that the success at chess is not automatic, there is a method to their madness.  

The BNSC Administrator of the Year further observes that the chess sport has all the intellectual resources within own pool. “For instance, the chess strategy was crafted by a former national team chess player, Mr Tefo Mogasha; our website was designed and made by our chess players; our life broadcast of games in Botswana was initiated and is being technically supported by our national team player, Phemelo Khetho.” As he cites this examples, Maruatona punctuates his rhyming examples with this statement: “So clearly there is a lot at stake and imagine the calibre of these individuals, they all want to see everything succeed. This is a select group of "nerds" like some people want to say, though we don’t think we are nerds. So in that context, the bar is not at mediocre level.”

According to Maruatona, Chess has been very successful to some extent in getting sponsorships and maintaining the existing ones. He says this could be attributed to how they have successfully packaged chess and how the benefits of playing chess have helped them position it as a game. “It is a known fact that all strong chess players are whizz kids or were at school. In the history of Botswana Chess, there has never been any chess player who made it into the national team and was not an A student. Never ever.

That alone is a distinctively selling value and sets us apart from other codes. It is the desire of every parent to see their kids excel at school. We always emphasize this distinctive advantage when we engage prospective Sponsors,” observes Maruatona. He quips, “Tell me one very good chess player you know in Botswana who was not a top student, I will pay you if u do!”

Every time the Chess Federation approaches a sponsor, it pitches the level very high and where need be, “we pull in some of the parents relevant in the line of business of the sponsor we are approaching. We don’t come through as just sports persons, but we sell our code on value and sponsors find that very impressive. I can exhaust all the typing characters on facebook when I talk about chess. That is how every chess player lovers it,” shares Maruatona.

To cap the glorious chess year, Onkemetse Francis scooped the Sports Woman of the Year award which was sponsored by Debswana for the first time this year to the tune of P40 000. Debswana has taken a deliberate decision to support women within and outside of the organisation in areas such as sports, entrepreneurship and academics. “This is part of our concerted drive to empower women, one of our focus areas in our corporate social investment space,” said Head of Corporate Affairs, Esther Kanaimba-Senai. Chess looks set to dominate other sports codes because of the level of seriousness and organisation they put into their work at the Botswana Chess Federation. It is evident that there is a method to the madness hence it could be prudent for other sports codes to benchmark with chess fides and masters.

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Sport

Dambe, Tsotso dump Zebras

12th April 2021

Remnant of the historic Africa Cup of Nations squad of 2012, Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele and Botswana’s first-choice goal keeper, Kabelo Dambe, will never embody the future of the Zebras as long as Adel Amrouche is at the helm, WeekendSport has established.

The duo made this confession in the squad secret WhatsApp group seen by this publication, expressing concern and antipathy about playing for the squad heavily polarised by the coach.

It turns out that the coach has players he favours and prefers, many of who appear in the starting line-up as a long lasting promise to be signed under his stable. The aim is to ultimately recruit them to far flung clubs and earn a commission.

Ngele who remains the only player to have scored the Zebras goal (in open play) at the 2012 edition has endured a rocky affair with the coach.

Not much has been established as to why the affair is in tatters but sources claim that it stretched to a point where Amrouche confronted Ngele’s former coaches at Black Leopards to discuss possible options of side-lining him. The idea was to frustrate the player and kill his confidence as the only player Zebras looked up to.

Ngele, under former coach Peter Butler, was named the squad captain but under Amrouche, he has played cameo roles in World Cup and AFCON qualifiers. Ngele has made three appearances and came once as a substitute in all the 10 games Amrouche managed.

Ngele was hoping for his own great leap forward in an effort to end his nightmare and play for the Zebras especially after earning playing time with his new club, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila.

Do this day, Ngele has made more than 35 appearances for the Zebras since earning his debut in 2009. Away from The Zebras stage, Ngele made significant contributions at Platinum Stars, the first team he signed his professional contract with. In 67 games, he scored 19 times.

Amrouche’s insistency and promise to make a loud impact in this year’s qualifiers did not bear fruit. Part of the blame is shoved on Township Rollers stopper, Kabelo Dambe. He is accused to have failed to stand strong for Zebras and shipped in simpler goals that cost the team to book a flight to Cameroon next year.

A goal against Algeria on home soil and a goal by Zimbabwe last month could have never gone through had he positioned himself better, critics claim.

Dambe who has more than 44 caps and played all Zebras games under Amrouche feels hard done and had hoped the coach and the nation would protect him. He feels the ambition of the country to qualify mirrors a tomorrow that could never come because of his mistakes.

Botswana Football Association (BFA) General Manager of National Teams, Monnakgotla Mojaki when pressed for interview failed to provide details about the future of the two stars.

He expressed concern that he was never hands on when the squad played the qualifiers. This according to Mojaki, was the case because the coach had barred him from mingling with the players.

“I am sorry I cannot assist you with anything, I know nothing and remember I have not spoken to anybody since I was asked not to come to camp,” he shared.

Both Dambe and Ngele are not only equally unhappy but are also equal in age; both are 30 years and have played for Platinum Stars at one point in their careers.

However, there is information to the effect that the duo made a promise to return one day, and that is when the coach has parted company with the association.

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Sport

Galaxy star wants out

12th April 2021

Lebogang Ditsile has begun to cast fresh doubts over his future as a Jwaneng Galaxy player. The hard tackling midfielder has handed the club management a transfer request amid rumours linking him with Gaborone United.

This week, the industrious player gave Galaxy an ultimatum -to either improve his contract benefits or let him go- this comes after a decision was taken to offer the whole team pay cuts amid the corona virus pandemic.

Galaxy has arrived at a conclusion of giving each player P3000 until a time football returns to the field.Ditsile, one of the club’ highest paid players is certainly restless and would not want to entertain a second thought over his future.

Galaxy on the other hand is feeling distraught over GU’s constant communication with the player, and are also aggrieved that the Nikholas Zakhem powered team wants to prize away their asset. Ditsile’s contract does not expire until June of 2022.

The situation is not yet explosive but it is believed to have gotten under Ditsile’s skin and it is threatening to turn ugly. Ditsile apparently is the best thing ever to happen to Galaxy and to leave them at this point will surely be a great loss that could take some time for the club to recover.

However, GU is busy making their move for their long-time target and the enterprising midfielder is said to be determined to complete the transfer before the season begins. It is said the player wants to play football without hustles, which Galaxy cannot promise at the present moment, and the allure of GU will certainly prove too much to stay from.

The team led and directed by Zakhem is reported to have promised ‘Tally’ a mouth-watering contract should he voluntarily terminate. It is however noted that GU cannot risk buying the player who is still on a running contract.

It is believed that Ditsile recognises GU as one of the country’s leading clubs, capable of competing for the grandest prizes. In the event of joining GU, Ditsile would have fulfilled his dream of playing for a rich paying club.

He has enjoyed his years at Galaxy, where he is feted by the supporters, but feels that the time is right to move on. It is impossible to dispute the value and service that he has given to the club, with last season being his best.

The fan-favourite, who has had an on and off relationship with the national team, is still held by the terms of his contract while discussions between his agent are continuing behind closed doors.

Those close to developments mention that Ditsile is yet to be shocked by the stubborn position held by the Galaxy; but the club will surely hate losing such a prized possession to their fiercest rivals.

The Galaxy management has a reputation of being tough negotiators but for Ditsile, the offer from GU is one that should be impossible to refuse.On the other hand, GU are mindful of the tactics often displayed by Botswana players.

They have a tendency of bargaining through rival clubs so as to increase salary or force the management to act swiftly.

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Sport

Panic ahead of women champions’ league

12th April 2021

The absence of women national league in the country has caused anxiety and alarm at Botswana Football Association (BFA) secretariat. PIC: Soccer Laduma

This is the case because the inaugural COSAFA women champions’ league is about to kick start and BFA is expected to send the name of the team that will represent the country.

As things stand, the association is caught between a rock and a hard place because they are unable to determine the deserving team. The reality facing the association is because its women nation-wide league has never been played since the first corona virus case was registered in March of 2020.

However, the association has devised a plan and a model to opt for a team that will participate in the tournament to be held between November and December of this year. The play offs are expected to commence in August.

BFA has therefore called for an expression of interest from clubs to select the most deserving team.The expression of interest, according to BFA, should cover the club’s financial viability and ability to honour its games (both home and away) without fail. According to findings, the club will need a minimum of P100 00 to play a telling role.

It is therefore highly unlikely that BFA will find a women’s team enjoying such financial freedom. In any case, the association will be forced to offer financial assistance.Township Rollers, Mexican girls and Double Action are the few teams that can possibly be selected, but a huge question mark hangs over their financial disposition.

One other thing needed through the expression of interest is the current books of accounts which will definitely show that the club has been operating. BFA is of the view that this is important because it will help in showing the financial progression of the team.

“We are very pleased with how these events were organized under very difficult circumstances,” COSAFA General Secretary, Sue Destombes said in a statement.

“We take what we learnt in Nelson Mandela Bay into our planning for 2021. We have a full calendar of tournaments at this stage. We are hopeful we will be able to stage them all, even in these most challenging times.

The highlight must be the introduction of the regional Women’s Champions League, which will be a zonal qualifier for the new CAF Women’s Champions League which is coming later this year,” she further shared.

 

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