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.
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.