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 2021-22 football season has finally arrived. It does not come at a better time than this one after two years of no action. With the tune changing around football circles, a game between Township Rollers and Extension Gunners will never go unnoticed in the calendar of Botswana football.
The two teams, which enjoy the largest following in Botswana, are billed to headline the start of the season. The fixture, however, comes after almost two years without playing football, and it is still unknown if they still carry the same significance and meaning in the future of Botswana football. With many followers ready to quench their football thirst, all eyes, however, will be on rather what happens than who wins the match.
Forget about the comparison that continuously stirs followers` minds about which player is better than the other. While Rollers speedy winger Edwin Moalosi and Extension Gunner’s pacey recruit, Lesego Lubinda, are likely to determine the game’s outcome, the instrumental men happen to be in the midst of the park. The two teams are about to embark on a story where Rollers have already been labelled as potential league champions because of their massive recruitment. At the same time, Gunners are relegation candidates following a lacklustre performance in the transfer market.
The Peleng outfit started preparation very late, with speculations of an absent chairman not inspiring confidence. The question is whether the fixture between the two sides is as prominent as it used to be? The fixture had the duo of former Rollers man Lawrence Majawa and Captain Maano Ditshupo ruling the midfield whenever Kenny Pilatwe and Lesego Molemogi faced them. Yet, there is striking mutual respect between them and a similarity that, for all the focus on goalscorers, may make them the central actors in the drama expected to unfold next weekend at the National Stadium.
Many new faces have come out. Rollers still have Ditshupo, Segolame Boy and Lemponye Tshireletso, while Gunners will enter the field with recruits but have veteran player Dirang Moloi in their mix. These are the players who used to face each other in the heart of midfield, the men entrusted with bringing an identity to their teams, whose job it is not just to play better; and make others play well.
Rollers Captain Maano Ditshupo is likely to continue his dominance to bring out the team’s ideologue — bright, opinionated and analytical, the man; former Rollers head coach Nicola Kavazovic once said of him: “I cannot imagine Popa without him.” On the other side, Gunners’ Moloi is the man who will do the bidding on the pitch for Gunners – intelligent, communicative, quietly authoritative, bringing calm to a team that plays at breakneck speed.
Both groups of midfielders from these teams are undoubtedly natural talents: insightful and passionate about the game, awe at the passion it provokes and assured how it can be played. They are teammates and former fellow travellers for the Zebras. During the past season, Rollers coaches said Segolame Boy, another instrumental midfielder, was his best player of the campaign. And Gunners coaches, on the other hand, have merely avoided rotations on, but when big games come, it is Moloi he seeks to protect first.
For Maano and Rollers, it is a matter of beginning a new formula in a new revolution in his role. As he embraced it, he had not failed it. Moloi might seem fatigued, but his dangerous moves on the last third of Rollers might still haunt the Gaborone West giants. Boy will be key in orchestrating final passes to the top man, but even if he is not there, Lemponye Tshireletso can equally put up with the role. The question then is whose role will prosper.
Botswana Football League (BFL) has successfully secured a P4 million grant from the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) in a move aimed at kicking start the elite league by next week. As early as last week, BFL new board started knocking on the doors of BNSC, applying for a P4 million grant as the struggle to bring football from the edges of death continues.
Sources who spoke to this publication indicate that the newly assembled board of the league, led by Nicolas Zakhem, has managed to convince the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development to play a pivotal role in nurturing and cultivating football in financial terms. However, there is an expected backlash from BNSC as other sporting codes would want the same treatment in the future.
It is reported that BFL is not expected to pay back the money as it comes as a grant. The BFL has also successfully lobbied Botswana Football Association (BFA) to source a loan of equal amount from FIFA. The thinking inside the BFL board is that FIFA loan must be repaid with the grant from the BNSC to avoid running a company with debts just from the beginning.
The BFL board met on Wednesday to ask for P1 million advancement from BFA to put in place logistics surrounding the return of the league. It is further reported that the money will be paid as soon as available sponsors transact their part to the BFL. The anticipation finally is enormous after the board approved fixtures to kick start the league by the 29th of October, a few days after all players take their jab.
According to the Sport Ministry and other stakeholders, part of the impetus for vaccinating players is that sport events are quick spreaders; hence players could unknowingly spread the virus to other people. However, observers now believe that the country has gone one step further combating the virus through vaccination. Testing is no longer a major problem. Zakhem, the chairman of BFL, explained that it was necessary to delay the commencement of the league until all players were vaccinated and when all stakeholders were on the same page with developments surrounding football.
“You will see that it was wise to wait a bit to bring everyone on board; all players need to be vaccinated, even supporters have to come back to make a perfect advertisement for football in the eyes of the sponsors,” said Zakhem. The domestic league was halted in April 2019, and a decision was taken to crown the team that occupied first place, Jwaneng Galaxy.
Furthermore, three teams lying at the bottom of the table were relegated, and clubs in pole positions from Debswana First Division North and South saw themselves gaining promotion to the elite league. By all accounts, the association felt it was a controversial option to undertake but also fairer for the sake of progress.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) constitution appears to be under heavy scrutiny as Tebogo Sebego, the president of Notwane Sporting club, questions its authenticity, with strong indications that several clauses were removed and others added without the input of the General Assembly.
Sebego, who vied for the BFA presidency in October 2020, feels Notwane is a bonafide member of BFA and has been participating in the past three BFA assemblies but cannot be part of the mess that the club and others did not create. On 13th September 2021, Notwane forwarded a complaint letter to the football association’s chief executive officer (CEO), challenging how two constitutions were amended.
The club says a constitution dated 25th June 2021 and the other bearing a stamp of 10th December 2020 were amended under fraudulent circumstances and want an explanation on how it transpired. “We have recently received a constitution dated 25th June 2021 stamped by the registrar of societies. The said constitution carries some changes that were never discussed and voted upon at the BFA general assembly.
Of particular interest, we have noted that the following new amendments, Article 33 of the 2016 constitution, is replaced by article 30. The procedure has been reduced, but the principles remain the same. The relevance of this is to restate the constitutional culture and mandatory powers of the General Assembly as the sole body responsible for constitutional amendments,” part of the letter seen by this publication reads.
Article 33 that Sebego complains of reads thus, “The general assembly is responsible for amending the constitution and the standing orders of the general assembly.” Furthermore, Notwane argues that another article (22.1) of the 2021 constitution then wipes off the presence of 16 delegates from the Premier League clubs and eight representatives from the first division together with their voting rights.
The club believes that while the autonomy of the Botswana Football League (BFL) was approved in the 2020 General Assembly, the assembly never discussed, voted or approved the removal of delegates from the General Assembly. The team believes that the amendments are therefore unlawful for lack of authority from the General Assembly. This is the case because it has a significant impact on the landscape of the structure of the General Assembly, Notwane argues.
Moreover, Notwane’s shock is skyrocketing, especially when raising another equally screaming change in the constitution. In the letter state, the club states that article 33.4 of the 2021 constitution introduces a term limit for the president. The club speculates that the amendment seems to be carried from the 2019 version of the constitution, and whatever its genesis, the matter was never before the General Assembly.
“It is only the General Assembly that has powers, through the right constitutional channels to introduce a limitation on the term of the president and further to define the limitation based on the reasons presented to it,” the argument goes on. The old constitution was limited to at most two terms, but it seems the president can now enjoy the third term.
Sebego and Notwane argue that they have raised these articles to demonstrate that the constitution was amended without following due process in an unconstitutional, unlawful and somewhat fraudulent manner. They say this 2021 constitution and that of the 2019 version are, in their view, unlawful documents and should be reversed without delay.
The complaint letter was also copied to the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) desk and the registrar of societies — an organisation that issued a stamp on the constitutions in question. Notwane, in a parting shot, wants to be furnished with minutes that allowed the constitutional changes because, to their understanding, there was none.
It has come to the attention of this publication that Notwane had given the BFA head of secretariat seven days to have replied, but nothing has come out. However, neither party was available for comment as the paper was going to print.