Botswana Softball Association (BSA) on Tuesday announced the teams that will participate at this this year’s edition of the Selebi Phikwe Softball Extravaganza Tournament.
The announcement follows last weekend’s qualifiers where teams fought against each to book themselves a spot in the country’s most prized softball tournament. The tournament will be held in Selebi Phikwe on July 15 – 17, 2017. The tournament which is held under the auspices of BSA and it is a premier event on the BSA calendar which features 16 top teams from north and south of the country to battle for the P75, 000 prize money in both the men and ladies category.
The participating teams include the defending champions for both men and ladies categories being BDF IX and Police IX respectively as well as home side, Comets which are perennial participants by virtue of being the hosts. Under the men’s category, the North will be represented by Comets, Ghetto Yankees from Francistown, Rebels from Orapa and Rail Giants from Mahalapye. The south will be represented by BDF IX, Panthers, Police IX, all three from Gaborone as well as Wells International from Jwaneng.
Comets, Carats from Orapa, Scramblers from Francistown and Rail Giants from Mahalapye will represent the North in the ladies category while the south will be represented by BDF, Panthers, Police IX and Wells International. For the south, the boys qualified alongside their girls, an exciting pattern that will see the south represented by the same teams under both the male and female category. From North, only Comets and Rail Giants have both its teams participating.
The 2017 edition however will take place against the backdrop of financial challenges emanating from the closure of BCL Limited which was the parent sponsor of the tournament. The majority of the tournament sponsors where companies which were in business with BCL. Following the closure of the mine, nine of the 16 sponsors withdrew their support, the Tournament Director, Dan Mahupela told the media recently.
Mahupela said that the tournament which was started eight years ago, kicked off with a P50, 000 budget and has grown over the years to the current budget of P650, 000. He pointed out that despite losing many of their sponsors, the remaining seven have enabled the tournament to continue. The remaining sponsors are KOMATSU and Bridgestone which are the longest and faithful sponsors since from the beginning, Puma Energy, Stanlib, Investec, Bitek and Boitekanelo.
Mahupela thanked the sponsors and paid a special tribute to Bridgestone, a tyre company based in South Africa which has seen the need to invest in sport development in Botswana. “We want to make Selebi Phikwe to remain at the centre of sport development and we are grateful to Bridgestone which saw the need to invest in sport not only in their home country but internationally,” said Mahupela.
The first and second prize money will remain the same as last year at P75, 000 and P40, 000 respectively. The prizes have increased by P2, 000 from third position to eight. The third prize will be P28, 000 while fourth position will walk away with P23, 000. Position five and six will be awarded P18, 000 and P14, 000 respectively while the last two positions will go home with a consolation prize of P12, 000. The overall budget for prizes and awards that include the Most Valuable Player, Best Slugger and Best Outfielder stands at P454, 000.
Daniel Mahupela pointed out that despite a shortfall in sponsorships, prudent financial management practices made sure that the surplus from the previous tournament bridges the gap to ensure the smooth execution of the tournament. Meanwhile, SPEDU which has since taken over as the parent sponsor of the tournament says the development of Sport Tourism is envisaged to pump life into the dry economic veins of Selebi Phikwe despite being a comparatively new concept far away from mining which has been the lifeline of the town for over forty years.
SPEDU’s Director of Strategic Projects, Jazenga Uezesa told the media that they have partnered with Selebi Phikwe Softball Extravaganza to use the tournament as a launch-pad to identify the positive impact that sport tourism can make as a developmental initiative to revive the economy of Selebi Phikwe. Apart from supporting the Softball Extravaganza tournament, Uezesa revealed that SPEDU has also partnered with Selebi Phikwe National Marathon to help push their mandate of laying a foundation and leading the economic diversification through sport and events tourism.
The Director stated that Selebi Phikwe’s economy can be improved by hosting of regular sporting events as sport has increasingly taken a significant position in the economic and social growth of Botswana. Apart from Softball and Phikwe National Marathon, SPEDU has been supporting the Dr Kim’s Charity Golf Tournament that is also held in Selebi Phikwe.
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.