When the dust settles, three notable football administrators are anticipated to battle it out for the power seat at Botswana Premier League (BPL). The BPL Chief Executive Officer post has yet to be advertised but will be in the near future, and already potential candidates’ names are being sounded out.
WeekendSport understands that the current acting CEO, Thabo Ntshinogang, former Green Lovers Chairman and a member of the premier league board, Solomon Ramochotlhwane together with Setete Phuthego- a former premier league general manager are top of the list among sports titans to be considered when recruiting for the post.
The board of governors which consists of 16 premier league chairpersons will spear head the recruitment process while the association is expected, as before, to endorse the chosen individual. While the premier league is still trying to play the cards close to its chest, this publication has been told that the league prefers to head hunt its CEO, and it appears from the afore mentioned names, one will eventually ascend to the plum post. Now WeekendSport runs the ruler over the credentials and experience of the trio to possibly examine their fate.
Currently acting as CEO after the suspension- and later the expulsion of Bennett Mamelodi, Ntshinogang is a refined sports administrator. While some of his detractors condemn him for sitting on crucial decisions for a long time, Styles, as he has grown to be called in the football arena, is the only BFA CEO to complete his tenure post the Ashford Mamelodi era.
He has consulted and worked for sports at different levels. As an owner and director of Stillistics Sportainment Company, Ntshinogang is part of a team which developed the Sustainability Strategy for the Botswana National Sports Council’s Active Community Clubs (ACC) Programme – from 2013 to 2014. The strategy was funded by Australian Sports Commission.
In 2010, Ntshinogang was also part of a wonderful team that designed a paper strategy concept for the National Sports Commission. Ntshinogang is also credited as a project coordinator while still under the wings of BNSC sometimes in September 2007. The portfolio saw him successfully coordinating and managing the first ever Botswana Games held in December 2007 by meeting strict project timeline and budget requirements.
But it is at the football association where the administrator made his mark. A couple of appraisals indicate that, at his prime from August 2004 to September 2007, the then BFA sponsors were ecstatic in as far as relationship was concerned. Styles holds a Master’s in Sports Management and this is supplemented by other various sports courses he did over the years. Whether he will be eventually chosen as the best candidate is open to debate, but his proficiency remains crucial as the BFA is faced with a taxing and tricky situation of re-negotiating with sponsors.
A careful perusal of Ramochotlhwane’s credentials reveals a football administrator who is well versed on all aspects of the game. The former Green Lovers chairman- a Serowe based outfit, is a relatively new pawn to the political landscape of Botswana football, he commands respect without ever demanding it, wherever he goes. He stands out as an administrator with acumen of a coaching guru. His technical version of the game jumps out, and if chosen, he too, would not disappoint. Many are believed to have admiration for him largely because he is not corrupted by football politics.
While this is a plus for him, the danger in choosing Solly, – who holds a Master’s in Finance- is that he lacks experience in leadership. Often times, the CEO of the league faces a stubborn board of governors when making crucial decisions. Ramochotlhwane however holds the same vision as that of the president of the Botswana Football Association MacLean Letswiti when it comes to commercialising football. Over a period of 10 years, from-2007-2017, Solly attended courses under the association and best arises as a technical expert. He would need minimum supervision.
The story of Phuthego is well documented and is a known football servant from time immemorial. Phuthego came to the Premier League sometimes in 2005 deputising the then Administrative Secretary of the league Comfort Ramatebele. At the time, his position was better known as the league secretary. It was in 2007 that he ascended to the post of Administrative secretary when his senior, Ramatebele, parted ways with the league under a cloud of animosity.
In 2008, when Botswana Telecommunication Corporation(BTC) first came on board as sponsors for the league, Phuthego was elevated to the post of General Manager which he was ‘forced’ to leave after a cold spell of war with BFA that reached the industrial court. He would later resurface at Township Rollers as their first general manager before succumbing to prolonged illness that eventually forced him to leave the job.
Recently, Phuthego was engaged by Selibe Phikwe troubled outfit Satmos as a ‘parent’ to help them argue their cases with the premier league. He remains the only candidate who understands the football language of negotiating with sponsors. If chosen, the association has to be prepared to dispel back lash for re-cycling personnel. Both premier league sponsors (BTC and Mascom) were negotiated under his nose. Under his stewardship, the league brand grew bigger with impressive numbers and the stadium before dwindling down in the last few years.
The CEO post was first crafted in 2012 after a consultation exercise led by the then premier league chairman Mike Molefhe. Bennett Mamelodi therefore became the first football mind to occupy it. Early this year, the league house entertained the thought of phasing out the post but has since somersaulted.
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.