In the Bible, David, despite his small physique, defeated the monstrous Goliath. Zebras, one of the under-achieving national teams in Africa, from a country with one of the smallest populations in Africa, now has a David who is expected to Brighten prospects in a Major way.
The big question is whether Major Bright will do a Bible David on the Goliaths of African football. Former Zebras players are guarded in their assessment but the scales tip in favour of the former army major’s return to national team coaching. A good number of former senior national football team players are confident that Major David Bright could propel the senior national team, Zebras, to respectable rankings following his appointment as the national team coach for the next three years.
Bright takes over from Briton, Peter James Butler whose loose canon antics did not help his cause as the Zebras’ poor showing in Africa continued albeit a resurgence of public support, especially in the north. The national team legends who always express concern over the propensity to sideline them on national team matters came out of the woods to contribute words of encouragement and praise for Bright and the decision to appoint him.
The charismatic coach, who has also coached in the South African Leagues characteristically took an oath during his unveiling this week. He believes he can deliver on the goals set by Botswana Football Association (BFA) President, MacClean Letshwiti and his team.
The players, Khumo Motlhabane and Seabo Gabanakgosi, agree that ‘Fakude’ has the know-how of evacuating the team from a pit of misery following Peter Butler’s almost failed attempt at redeeming Zebras. However they both give guarded praise poised with caution. While it is a tough call for Bright to entrench a national team DNA, reach COSAFA finals, qualify for CHAN finals, reach AFCON qualifying stage and World Cup group stages, there is an air of optimism from former players that the coach could produce the needed results.
There is almost consensus that with his disciplinarian style and better understanding of local players, Zebras can reach the height set by former Zebras mentor, Stanley Tshosane. Bright is all on the right corner because the BFA President, Letshwiti believes in him and has said he is ready to channel all the necessary resources to the team.
An Ex-national team player who once worked with the former Mogoditshane Fighters coach at the national team posits that, just like wine, Bright matures with age. “He is one coach who grows with time, I worked with him nine years back but if you look at the training methods he uses now – they are contemporary,” he said.
“The only problem is working with Sthando (Mogwadi), they are both old there was a need for a younger assistant to complement him because football has evolved and they have been away from mainstream football for some time,” further observes Motlhabane. According to the hard-tackling defender popularly known as ‘Shoes’ – Chicco Nare, Pio Paul, and Tumie Duiker could have been the more sensible additions in the technical team. However he is itching for the coach to maintain the core of players that were selected by Butler. “Those players will suit his style of play because they are skillful,” he said.
Bright revealed to journalists that the players categorically told him that they prefer short passes football. On the other hand another former player who wouldn’t want to be named said Bright shouldn’t be too strict on the players. “His man-management tactics will be tested, nowadays players own cars; and are handsomely paid, so if he becomes too imposing they could fail him. His CV is decorated but he has failed at bigger teams (GU & Rollers) so I hope he has improved on that regard because it could backfire.”
Another former national team captain, Seabo Gabanakgosi says Bright is the right man for the national team. “There have been issues within the team with players going out, with the firm Bright, those will be issues of the past as he will instill discipline that is currently lacking in the team. Again he understands the players and as a Motswana this is a plus for him to bring the results, his man-management style will be pivotal in bringing results,” he concludes.
The newly formed Botswana Coaches Association chaired by Nelson Olebile has also sung praises for the gaffer. “He has vast experience in local football and he is a winner and as an association we are behind him all the way,” he said. Asked to comment on the localization of national team technical benches, Olebile said: “We want football development, so we shouldn’t deny ourselves the opportunity to learn from others; anyone with the right qualifications should take the job. Anyone valuable who can help us entrench the DNA is fine, but remember we are just advisors, BFA makes the final decision,” concluded Olebile, whose association is still awaiting membership approval from the BFA.
FIFA currently ranks Botswana at position 138 out 211 while CAF rankings pits Zebras at position 40 out of 56 countries. Botswana’s FIFA highest ranking was position 53 achieved in 2010 under Stanley Tshosane. The lowest rankings was position 165, recorded in 1999. Butler’s highest ranking was position 91 recorded in 2016. The P85, 000. 00 per month worth Briton, who is now with Platinum Stars in South Africa had 7 wins, 14 loses, and 1 draw under his belt, a somewhat poor record, according to many. Bright is expected to improve on this dismissal record starting this weekend.
Amid the confusion surrounding the date of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) elections, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, met with three presidential candidates on Thursday morning to discuss a plethora of problems bedevilling the domestic game.
The candidates are Maclean Letshwiti, the current President, Tebogo Sebego, the firm challenger of the BFA throne, together with Ookeditse Malesu who enters the race for the first time in his sporting career. There were other two unnamed officials who are said to be representatives from the sport ministry.
The Sport minister is said to have adopted a hard-nosed approach to register his disappointment and worry that the uncertainty of the upcoming elections have injured the administration of the local game.
Highly placed sources at the Sport ministry say that the minister’s ‘no gloves barred’ approach comes at the behest of the BFA’s constant negative headlines regarding their leadership style as of going into the elections.
It is said that Rakgare was also worried that the current administration is keeping the other two camps in the dark regarding the planning and processes bordering on election issues. This, he said has led to unnecessary speculations and back biting that is not needed to lift the game at a time when it is on its knees.
He was to rattle a few feathers at one incident when he called all the three leaders of the game to put their houses in order. As if that was not enough, the minister called on the three lobby groups to desist from serving personal interests but put focus on developing the game.
Interestingly, sources point out that the minister was livid but urged both Letshwiti and Sebego groups to refrain from tarnishing the good image of the ministry. This, he said in response to wide ranging allegations that he is taking sides as campaigns are ongoing.
The Sebego group accuses him of de campaigning Sebego and having a soft spot for Team Letshwiti while the same Letshwiti group is saying the same thing about the minister as having taking curious interest in Sebego camp.
The minister is alleged to have told the leaders that if they do not change their leadership style of protecting those looting public funds, his ministry would intervene even if it means attracting the wrath of FIFA, which is known for its notorious sanctions when countries do not toe the line. He urges BFA to be accountable at all the times they will cut the annual subventions that goes to them, sources claim.
This is not for the first time that the BFA was lectured on good governance. At one incident in 2015, former Minster of Sport Thapelo Olopeng dressed down the then Tebogo Sebego leadership regarding good governance.
BFA was at the time closely monitored by the ministry. Instead of the usual transactions that normally go through BFA, national team players received their allowances straight from government in the form of cheques. To demonstrate that government has taken a firm stand against BFA, players’ allowances were no longer routed through the association.
Nobody from the said meeting will address this publication enquiry all indicating that the consultation is never meant for public consumption.
If everything goes according to plan, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) will hold its annual general assembly next month through a virtual conference.
There has been much uncertainty as to how and when the congress will be held seeing as how COVID-19 protocols remain stringent on gatherings.
Sources speaking with this publication say the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the association has agreed to hold the congress within COVID-19 zones, consequently dispelling all the lingering doubts surrounding the life and soul of the assembly.
As it stands, there are nine COVID -19 zones in Botswana. The association is therefore contemplating to rely within four zones where live streaming will take centre stage for the first time in the history of BFA elections.
The congress was first billed for August 8th but was postponed to August 22nd. However, the second date could not see the light of the day as the country recorded a second rise of coronavirus cases that promptly led to greater Gaborone going into yet another lockdown.
The association has been procrastinating over the virtual congress idea with the election agenda remaining a sticky issue. Many advices came flooding that the association is free to make any decision about the congress but should be very careful not to compromise the integrity of the vote.
Sources indicate to this paper that the association is likely to rely on four COVID-19 zones, namely Gaborone, Francistown, Jwaneng and Palapye. The need to plant the meeting on virtual technologies hinges on the fact that the COVID -19 health protocols do not permit people to cross zones to hold meetings.
Information gleaned from various sources is that the association is looking to rely on four zones primarily because of the limited number of personnel under the electoral board. There are five members consisting of this committee and by the look of things; the association will not be allowed to outsource more election overseers at the eleventh hour. Sources argue that the whole cautious exercise is meant to avoid complaints that may arise after elections are held.
The virtual meeting comes after many failed attempts by the association to convince the Kereng Masupu led Task Force to give out a special dispensation. On many occasions, the Task Force refused to allow for the assembly to go on saying “football is not a priority.”
The assembly is expected to be held next month but the exact date still remains a subject of speculation. In the end, Tebogo Sebego will stand again for the second time to unseat Maclean Letshwiti while Ookeditse Malesu is standing for the first time to try and wrestle for BFA power.
The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, is eager to lead crunch talks that will consequently see Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) becoming one authoritative sport entity.
The appointment of one Tuelo Serufho to the plum position of BNSC Chief Executive Officer two week ago has further catalysed the intention to merge the sports bodies to avoid the long standing complaints of duplication of roles by the two.
Serufho was replacing Falcom Sedimo whose contract was not renewed.Serufho, ironically is the longest serving CEO of BNOC and also a board member of BNSC.“One of our aims is to form a robust sport body to centralize and improve decision making processes and maybe the time to resuscitate BNSC/BNOC merger is now,” Rakgare briefly shared.
The impending move is highly meant to improve effective functioning, governance and performance of sports in the country both locally and globally.Should this see the light of day, Botswana would have done itself a favour and it would start sending a handful of athletes to international competitions.
The amalgamation of BNSC/BNOC talks have been in the pipelines but discussions were aborted two years ago without clear reasons. The creation of this all-encompassing sport institution is overdue according to the minister.
“It is in fact our mandate to make sure this happens, it is overdue and by next year we hope to have finalised our position paper,” Rakgare added.The creation of the looming body is borne out of lessons learnt from various sports governance models around the world.
In South Africa, the sports ministry facilitated discussions to merge National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) and the South African Sports Commission. Their authoritative sports body is now called South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).
With the South African model well in place, Botswana is urged to bench mark and create a sport body as a civic society-based organisation as required by the statutes of international sports bodies.The name of the local sport body is mooted and the minister refused to give a hint. But he is optimistic that the body will be the vanguard organization of sport in the country.
He emphasized that the sports organisation should be a purposeful guardian for governance and management of sports and be the required defining figure of the role of sports in Botswana’s communities.Talks to revamp and rebuild these sports bodies come at a time when BNSC is restructuring.
When Sedimo was still at the helm, he wanted to phase out some positions which he felt were unnecessary.BNSC receive close to 53 million Pula as grants from the government through the Ministry of Youth, Sports development and Culture empowerment while BNOC takes a figure a closer to that.