The struggle to build a new and recognizable Botswana Football Association (BFA) house amid taxing issues of internal politics is now being derailed. Roughly a year after the new BFA leadership was voted into power; conspiracy theories are now flying thick and fast.
A July interview hosted by one private radio station appears to have pitted the current BFA president MacLean Letshwiti against its former leader, Tebogo Sebego. The interview has since exposed the two contrasting faces of the BFA abode: the robust force of social equality within themselves, versus the tight control by the BFA leader and his men. It would seem the two football administrators never buried the hatchet after August 13, 2016 when Letshwiti threw Sebego off the power seat.
WeekendSport has in its possession messages detailing Sebego’s intent to either orchestrate Letshwiti’s fall as well as his ambitions to return to the rudder of BFA. By his own admission, Sebego has confirmed in his close circle of friends-a majority of whom form the nucleus of his campaign group that he is fed up with the way Letshwiti conducts himself as the leader of the association. “I feel insulted by MacLean. He doesn’t speak like a leader, and is very disrespectful. I respect other people, but his insult on (name of the radio station omitted) was the last straw for me. He needs to be put in his place,” a message to Sebego’s confidantes reads.
WeekendSport could not uncover the contents of the interview with Letshwiti on the said radio station, but it is said the BFA leader was taking swipe at the past regime for failing to pay player allowances as way back as 2014. When approached with the damning information, Letshwiti laughed off the chronometer of the events and says, “I am on the right path, I am busy cleaning the BFA mess.” While he could not divulge any more information, he said that his dream of turning the association into a professional set up is still alive. However, this publication can reveal, that there is a section of football administrators-past and incumbent-conniving to sabotage the current regime.
It appears that the Sebego group is happy to pin their hopes on Masego Nchingane – who heads the BFA technical wing. Nchingane, a former Zebras player, formed part of Sebego lobby group that contested for elections last year. He was one of the two administrators who won the seat from the Sebego side. His being inside Lesthwiti’s executive committee might be a point of reference to settle old scores. However, Letshwiti is in denial when it comes to Nchingane. He sees Nchingane as the best performing administrator at Lekdi football centre. Ironically Sebego praises Nchingane the same way the current president does.
“You are one of our future leaders and I want you not to derail. You are a good administrator and have the right credentials…” Sebego further wrote. The current regime is aware of the growing plot to oust the president. Football think tanks instrumental in the rise of Letshwiti to the BFA plum post argue that administrators serving within NEC and across different regions should be brought to book for their way ward behavior. Nchingane and the first division south chairman, Samuel Keitireng are walking a tight rope, not for their affiliation with Sebego, but for taking the interest of football to the jaws of the enemy.
With only a few days left (under a week) to the BFA first annual assembly since Letswhiti took the office, there were purpoted secret meetings held to trigger the fall of leadership. Sebego, although denying many times, appears to be ready to pounce back. He sees Letshwiti as a Sheppard leading the flock into dangerous territories. Sebego, while ironically referring to Letshwiti as “the President” wrote to his allies: “The president is pompous and is not willing to learn..it is bad for the association.”
Meanwhile, Letshwiti is on defence mode and has fired back during an interview with this publication, “I found a functionless league. I am repairing the existing structures. There was no youth league when I got into office; it has been introduced under my watch,” he says. “Believe it or not, I found the association plunging into serious debts. The accounts were on a red tape for the past 5 years. We are still trying to recover from the 10.5 million debt, yet it is claimed we are on a free fall,” he said further.
When reached for comment by this publication, Sebego denied being involved in any alleged ongoing fracas at BFA. “For now I am out of football and I’m relaxed I don’t want to be involved in football wrangles, but whenever there is something that is failing the incumbent attributes it to the past leadership. We have been in the game and football growth is a concern. There should be culture of respect, Fani (David) has never castigated Makgelemele (Philip) and I never did the same on Fani it is courtesy or humility.
But when you hear untruths or incorrect information about you it will concern you. We should respect each other; the reason why players are striking could not be attributed to us, during our times we did everything and it is disturbing to hear this peddled about you,” he highlighted in the lengthy tell-all interview.
“I was hurt but I didn’t have chance to respond, but the message is clear we should respect each other. The language used was not professional at all. I called and told him about it because I won’t talk on the corner and asked him to bring the facts, and he did apologise saying he was under pressure and stressed by a number of things including dismal performance of the national team,” he revealed further. Sebego further said: “I’m dealing with my law firm but I’m not lost to football, I keep sharing information with some because of my experience. I like imparting knowledge to others be it secretariat or about the laws of the game. But for now I’m just relaxed with my business,” he said, perhaps in attempt to douse rife talk that he wants to return to the hot seat.
The negotiations involving Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) over elite league sponsorship have suffered a setback as the local brewer this week took what it termed a ‘difficult’ decision to shut down operations.
This effectively means that football sponsorship is back in its dark corner as all efforts to go back to the field take another nasty twist in the midst of ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is regrettable that this latest total ban on alcohol sales has resulted in the suspension of KBL operations, which will remain in place for as long as the alcohol ban persists. KBL continues its efforts to engage government on this critical issue, which is having an enormous impact on the industry and its extensive value chain,” the company explained.
Although not proudly maintained at Lekidi Football Centre, the company is said to have abandoned talks on explanations revolving around ‘lack of funds.’In the initial agreement, sources say that it was settled that KBL would sponsor the Botswana Football League at a tune of P30million for a period of three years.
It is maintained that the deal was to be relooked and redefined to fit the sponsorship modalities of today’s game.Highly placed sources speaking with this publication however state that BFA is assisting BFL to cajole other companies to come on board as football is about to return to the field.
Top of the list is ABSA Bank who have remained afloat despite the impacts of the virus. The bank is said to be committed to football but sources say it will take a considerable amount of persuasion to see the bank increasing sponsorship.
KBL, in the first phase, were willing to commit without much difficulties but after the storm of COVID-19, the company was to take a back seat and played a waiting game. They reasoned that the continuous lockdown the country has gone under has left them with little income than expected.
But according to sources, KBL is still expressing pleasure to engage with the association again and will further illustrate their willingness to come on board as soon as the corona virus situation subsides.It is said KBL has requested further information regarding sponsorship value from the association and once satisfied, negotiations will resume.
However, some administrators within the National Executive Committee believe KBL’s parting message does not inspire confidence. “KBL‘s phase is over, they gave us hope but it is difficult to keep track of them, COVID-19 has affected every plan,” one member shared.
At the close last season, way before the corona virus impacted the country negatively; BFA revealed that it had long compiled its situation analysis of sponsorship value for the local game. It was understood that the property that is the Premier League could be purchased at a value P 15 million over 43 premier league games.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) President, Maclean Letshwiti.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) is engaged in protracted talks to stage a mini-league as lee-way to ascend into a proper football season by August this year.
The idea is to keep players fit and all football structures functioning as time pressure mounts.Informants say the idea is discussed at the competition office and will soon be forwarded to the National Executive Committee (NEC) for further deliberations.
This therefore means that all leagues across the country will be played for only one round until August where a new full football season will resume. Football has never returned to the field for almost 10 months now due to the corona virus.
The situation on the ground looks gloomy as COVID-19 cases continue to rise with each passing day. Football clubs are also feeling the pinch with Sua Flamingos becoming the latest victims. The club has been forced to suspend operations as players and members of the technical team test positive for the deadly virus.
While playing a mini-league is a last resort, it is mentioned that no team will be promoted or relegated after the completion of the games.Sources say it is better than folding arms when teams are continuing to pay players without kicking the ball.
The idea of the mini-league therefore means that there will be no prize money but teams will likely survive with grants from identifiable sponsors. Already, the Botswana Football League (BFL) has secured a P 5 million television deal for over three years.
The BFL think tanks contemplate to augment the television deal with sponsorship grants from ABSA bank. According to information, this will keep the league and its secretariat running until everything gets back to normalcy.
“It is true we are thinking to stage a mini league looking at what we have but this is still an infant idea, we are discussing and we will engage NEC going forward,” a member of the association shared.BFA leadership finds itself stuck between a rock and a hard place as the motion to kick start the league in February was shot down by the assembly in October of last year.
The movers of the motion argued that high temperatures usually recorded in the South of Sahara desert negatively affects player performance and their overall health conditions. However, there were intentions to commence the league at the earliest possible time but the task force together with the Ministry of Sport wanted players to be tested and football fields be fumigated regularly to avoid spreading the virus.
Early this week, the BFL leadership engaged the Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) to give an update on how football will return. However, this publication cannot adequately establish the detailed plan of the league.
Boteti based side, Orapa United were quick to snatch back Zebras left-back, Lesenya Ramoraka, tying him with a two-year deal after he was released this week by TS Galaxy.
The 26 year-old defender left The Ostriches in 2018 to join Highlands Park who later sold their status last year to renowned football agent Tim Sukazi of TS Galaxy. Ramoraka’s contract was to end this year July.
At the time of the sale, the team then opted not to register him for another season hoping to register him in the January transfer but his injury kept him out for longer than anticipated, forcing TS Galaxy to release him as he was free to start to negotiate with any team that may be interested in him.
“We have signed Ramoraka after assessing his injury and he is in Orapa as we speak doing his rehab.The injury is not bad and we expect him to resume light training anytime from mid- February,” said Kabo William, the club spokesperson.
Ramoraka left an impressive mark at Highlands Park where he played 29 games in all competitions and netting only once. Lee, as he is known in football circles, is one of the most trusted left backs in the country and has been a vital part of the Zebras with his absence felt at the national team.
“The team had wanted to keep him but they were just concerned that his injury was taking long to heal and they opted to release him as you cannot have a player out for too long more especially who is a foreigner,” said a source.
“He had survived the changes at the team and you have to also note that the coach who brought him, Owen Da Gama also just joined TS Galaxy and he is one of the players that he trusted and used so it is not a matter of performance but they couldn’t afford to have him on the side-lines for too long.”
Orapa United have also announced the signing of other players that include; Thabiso Boti formerly with Notwane, Kutlo Kolagano from City Eagles, Galagwe Moyana who was released by Township Rollers, Kagisano Mungu from TAFIC and the team promoted Phemelo Pushudi from their development side.
The Ostriches have released goalkeeper Bophelo Kealeboga who has signed a 2 year deal with Sua Flamingos, Mothusi Johnson who retraced his steps back to Gaborone United, Baboloki Makhura and Abdullah Hamisi.