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.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) is running without a substantive Technical Director since parting ways with South African native, Serame Letsoaka, who jumped ship midway through his contract in 2019.
This glaring revelation has left the Technical Department of the association hamstrung to fully operate by the book hence a plethora of problems protruding on the very nose of it.
This is the reason it took long for the association to take stern action against Zebras gaffer, Adel Amrouche. His departure was sanctioned at the eleventh hour when players’ patience had long wilted, threatening to leave the camp.
Pundits will therefore observe that it is the absence of a Technical Director that has caused all hell to break loose at Lekidi Football Centre.Since the departure of Letsoaka, the TD position has been more or less vacant as it has been manned by unqualified and somewhat incompetent administrators to date.
The TD position requires a CAF A-License qualification as well as a Diploma in Secondary Education as minimum qualifications. Among the specific duties of TD is; training and development of coaches, including design and updating of coaches manuals, facilitating licensing courses, developing a coaches Code of Conduct, arranging for expert and specialist coaches to deliver training clinics, education on rules of the game and creating and maintaining a library of resources including books, videos and articles for coaches to access.
The responsibility also include establishing and delivering a comprehensive and nationwide Grassroots programme at both the community level, in schools, and in the schools through clubs through strategic partnerships within the communities and with various government ministries and agencies.
TD also advices BFA on all matters related to the effective development of football in Botswana and is accountable for the development of a strategy and policy for the performance of football programmes.
Other duties include working with Youth National teams and coaches through development programmes in order to enable BFA to attain its goals within CAF and FIFA, including putting in place clear systems and processes for identifying and developing talented players.
After Letsoaka left, BFA reached out to Wire Kaelo, a Gaborone United legend currently holding the position of assistant coach at Security System FC, but eventually he was not appointed to the post.
Despite rumours to the effect that BFA had agreed terms with Kaelo to this day, the Association has not come out as to what happened to the alleged marriage.
BFA subsequently appointed one Dr Carolin Braun, on secondment from the German Olympic organisation, a move that left the association rooted in abrasive factionalism.
In particular, local coaches and the general football fanatics have always cried foul claiming that Dr Braun is not fit to hold the position of TD especially in a growing football environment like Botswana.
There is growing concern that Dr Braun does not have the pre-requisite credentials to be appointed for this plum post as she has never held any significant position within the football fraternity, not even at amateur level.
“It was a first in the history of Botswana football to see a TD doubling up as assistant coach to the senior national team and there has been no tangible coaching courses since the departure of Serame Letsoaka and this has been attributable to the vacant position of TD,” a source remarked.
BFA is currently failing to communicate CAF’s decision that the ill-fated CAF “B” and “C” courses held during Serame’s last days were not sanctioned and therefore attendants will not be certificated.
Over 50 local coaches participated in the courses and last year, most of those coaching in the Premier League had to be given waivers by the BFA Technical Committee before they could be accredited.
CAF has since indicated that the issue of waivers by national associations will not be entertained, something which might throw local games into disarray.BFA is still failing to come up with a coaching philosophy despite Serame having started groundwork before his departure.
Other countries such as Zambia have since resumed CAF coaching courses whilst in Botswana is still business as usual despite the impending challenges caused by indiscretion and lack of foresight.
Despite BFA having advertised the position of TD and subsequently holding interviews where recommendations were done by the Technical and Development Committee, the BFA NEC has refused to endorse the recommendation for reasons only best known to them.
Yet, there is a lingering fact that the NEC is clueless when it comes to technical matters. There is not even a single individual in the NEC who holds any coaching qualification including the Chairman of the member responsible for technical and development matters, Masego Ntshingane.
When asked about the position of the TD, Ntshingane said the association is well aware of the matter and will son fill the post. “Yes, it is true the association has not appointed a TD after Letsoaka’s departure, but we are working around the clock to hire capable people,” he said.
However, local coaches believe that it’s a travesty of justice to expect non-technical people to make meaningful contributions on technical matters to the extent that they can veto recommendations from a committee of renowned technical experts.
It is not business as usual in the operations manual of African football. Ever since the ascendency of Dr. Patrice Motsepe to the CAF plum post, the African football governing body is ringing changes to satisfy the demands and governance standards of the modern game.
However, it appears that what is coming out from the high offices of the game is a bitter pill to swallow for local clubs, some of which are touted to be the best in the land.
Connectedly, CAF has issued a circular to the effect that only coaches holding the CAF “A” education license will be permitted to sit on the technical dugout during the upcoming inter club competitions. This communication has been sent to all 54 CAF member associations in May 2021.
However, it seems local clubs have not been appraised on this development even though both Jwaneng Galaxy and Orapa United have shown desire to represent the country in the CAF competitions.
It comes to the fore now that the two clubs can successfully represent the country if they engage coaches with the pre-requisite qualifications which is now an insurmountable task due to the COVID-19 impact on club finances.
Both clubs have hired coaches who attended the ill-fated BFA conducted CAF “B” and “A” coaching courses which were held in Lobatse almost two years ago.
To date the coaches await the completion of the courses and certificates while CAF has made it clear that the courses were not sanctioned as they were held during the era that coaching licenses were suspended, a situation that BFA was well aware of and has since accepted the consequences.
The BFA is still at sixes and sevens on how to break the issue to the affected coaches as it is likely to cause a huge public embarrassment and backlash from the coaching fraternity.
“We all know about the problem, BFA is promising to come to the bottom of the matter as we continue to engage them,” says Botswana Football Coaches Association (BFCA) interim President, Daniel Nare.
CAF has also made it clear that this time there will be no waiver for coaches without the pre-requisite qualification because the Confederation has been too lenient in the past. During the last CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup, both Galaxy and Orapa United coaches were given a reprieve by CAF Technical Department as they did not even have the CAF “B” license.
When approached for clarity, the Spokesperson for Galaxy, Tankiso Morake said they are playing a waiting game when it comes to CAF issues especially that BFA is yet to reply to their letter. “Honestly, there is nothing concrete I can share because no one is certain about anything. We are waiting to be replied by the association so that we can finalize everything,” he said.
While United was not available for comment, it is clear that both clubs will need to hire coaches with the needed qualifications otherwise playing in this year’s edition of African football mirrors a tomorrow that may never come.
A recent study shows that Township Rollers is not only popular within the perimeters of Botswana, but has also made significant steps within the digital football platforms in Africa.
Out of the 70 African football clubs ranked on the African football digital benchmark, Township Rollers comes on the 35th position backed by a massive social media following. The club website records more than 399 000 followers and is seen as the most interactive in the local game.
This is consistent with the recent study conducted by FIFA- world football governing body- that Rollers is the only team locally that makes use of its digital platforms.
Notably, it comes out that the gap between Township Rollers and the rest of the 15 Premier League clubs is abysmal, this therefore works against creating a strong BPL brand value.
Rollers is the only club with more than 50 000 followers on Facebook, more than 20 000 followers on Twitter while its Instagram platform stands strong at 27 800 followers.
However, it is found out that much of the BPL brand value is killed by some social Facebook football fan accounts. They have stood long and have thus attracted more followers than the official accounts. Pages like Killers Pass and Botswana Football have consequently seen more than 100 000 following. Both of the accounts give 24 hour on-going updates of football’s latest news, transfers, results, video and live updates.
FIFA has therefore come to a conclusion that the two social media pages have grown interactive since they incite followers to answer and present their impressions about local football.
It comes into the open that 70 percent of domestic premier league clubs do not have official websites. This according to FIFA, kills the brand and visibility of clubs hence failure to attract lucrative sponsors by the clubs. FIFA also found out that the remaining 30 percent of clubs with websites are lacklustre and found wanting when it comes to their online presence. But in this regard, Rollers is on pole position.