Although the Botswana Premier League (BPL) started without the issue of club licensing having been put to rest, the first round of the league has somewhat satiated the appetite.
In fact, there is a sense of relief from different quarters that this new Premier League season is set to be packed with excitement and action than anticipated. When last season top goal scorer, Tendai Nyamadzawo’s unprecedented move, that had his former side, Gilport Lions and Mochudi Centre Chiefs in a tug of war trying to win him over.
The debacle between Orapa United and Township Rollers was also an expected one, this time around, the duo was fighting for pole position and after 15 games; the Orapa based outfit fell by the way side. Instead Jwaneng Galaxy gave champions, Rollers a good fight. As it stands, Galaxy leads the pack, followed by Rollers, although with a game in hand.
Seasons’ never ending transfer rumour mill, coupled with half-paced friendlies have their place in life, but they were surely only ever going to be a tasty little snack before the sumptuous banquet which is a fresh season, still powered by BTC. But the movement of many players from both Nico United and Gilport Lions to other teams set tongues wagging. Gift Moyo, Nelson Moreetsi, Flo Kgetholetsile are some of the players who were on the move. In fact, all other players who departed the struggling sides left an abyss that the teams are yet to fill. Clearly, their entire first round games were a dangerous demonstration that the clubs were the most hit in the transfer window.
But before it could be known, the need for news and views – not to mention wins in Gaborone and Francistown stadiums or wherever will once again become the all-consuming passion in many football lovers’ lives. Some had reason to be happier than most. Logic decrees that the Premier League's usual suspects will have it all their own way yet again. Talent galore and bottomless pockets of cash were enough to ensure yet more silverware ends up in already crammed trophy cabinets.
The cream, as they say, always has a tendency to rise to the top. Week 12 of this first half season was the most interesting one. Galaxy became the first team to end Black Forest winning streak by beating them 3-0 at Lobatse stadium. This was the one joyous time, especially for Mahalapye Hotspurs, Police XI and Green Lovers fans along with those of other teams in the league’s top flight who went into the weekend’s fun and games with no fear of relegation.
Now, buoyed by the belief teams carry during any fresh season, as optimism is soaring, anything is possible as far as these teams are concerned. A new second round equates to opportunity, a chance to shine like never before. But the first round seemed to have inspired only two of the three new entrants while others are still languishing at the bottom of the table.
Acting premier league CEO, Thabo Ntshinogang believes this season is most competitive and there is a likelyhood that there will be a new champion. ‘‘It is tight and competitive and we might have a new champion at the end,’’ he observed. But beyond the shadow of doubt, the return of Premier League second round – as wonderful as the first one – will signal several months of nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat tension. Teams are eyeing for the top 8 finish, and ultimately catching up with the current league leaders, Jwaneng Galaxy.
A delegation from FIFA, the world football governing body, has left heads rolling after concluding what some call ‘early findings’ that Botswana Football Association (BFA) secretariat has not misused FIFA funds contrary to widespread reports and criticism. This comes to the fore against the much peddled P8.8 million which disappeared within the coffers of the association.
However, FIFA delegation led by David Fani, a former BFA boss himself, finds out that the funds have been used to projects they were not initially meant for. The delegation cited money for covid-19 which was meant to cushion clubs from distress due to lack of playing and was used to pay BFA employees. However, the findings by FIFA are said to have left the world of football divided on the way forward. They are those who are skeptical about the manner in which investigations were carried out but are afraid to voice out for fear of being victimized or being relieved of their duties.
While FIFA is adamant that the funds were misallocated, BFA finds itself at pains to answer a difficult question where some staff members at the finance department were sacked. More complicating the already strained situation is the decision to suspend the Chief Executive Officer, Goabaone Taylor and threatening to expel her while she had an over-riding duty to prioritize BFA funds when corona had ravaged the administration and operational wing of the association.
It might be that the National Executive Committee was building a case for her and would now want to look as if they were saving face when they sidelined her. “During the four day visit, the delegation carried out its assessment and interviewed BFA staff and former employees. At the end of the investigation, the delegation briefed the NEC on initial findings. The delegation informed the NEC that it found no evidence of misappropriation or embezzlement of funds,” reads part of BFA statement.
BFA has claimed that its brand has been “deeply tarnished” and that its “ability to use its resources for positive actions throughout the country, and to meet its mission of supporting and enhancing the game of football” has been “impaired” as a consequence of the actions of the football officials and some sports administrators under their watch. “We are not out of the woods yet, we had made good strides in earning FIFA’s trust; we will wait to see what the remedial action will be. However, we will be tightening our gabs and ensuring that we regain the financial confidence we worked so hard for,” BFA president Maclean Letshwiti said.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership finds itself caught between a rock and a hard place owing to the ever burning issue of mischievous spending at operational level.
While the association coffers have suddenly dried up, with some staff members getting the boot, the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development has threatened to place the Maclean Letshwiti led association under strict funding for unspecified period of time.
WeekendSport learns that the sport ministry is not happy about the financial status of the association and will want to act before everything get messy.
At the close of last year, the Ministry had to intervene for the Women National Football Team to travel to Ethiopia as BFA had no penny to cover for the travelling costs.
As if that was not enough, the BFA December wages were covered from the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) purse, an abnormality that BFA is at pains to explain.
All these incidents, however, coincide with a time when the Sport ministry is putting in place a new revised modeling for funding. The model requests national sports associations to explain in details the why they will need funding for their calendar of events.
Moreover, the Ministry is eager to prioritize funding basing on the performance of the sport code on a yearly basis.
“Things have changed, we are not going to splash money like we used to do, and we want a code to explain fully how they are going to spend the money,” a source shared.
Moreover, we will be funding looking at the overall performance of the code, we are not going to fund just because it is football and it is loved by many people.”
At worst, the ministry will want the association to account and should BFA fail to balance their books, the National Executive Committee(NEC) is likely to be dissolved by the ministry.
Sources further state that the Ministry’s patience has actually wilted away concerning codes that abuse funds. In the case of BFA, sources point out that they are likely to get half subvention until everything goes back to normalcy.
On a good year, BFA subvention reaches P 5.4million annually. Should the ministry persists, BFA will start operations of the year on a budget of about P 2.7 million. It will not be for the first time the association finds itself bearing the brunt.
Sometimes in 2018 when Tshekedi Khama was the Minister, the association’s subvention were cut down to pay an old standing debt that amounted to P3 million.
However, high ranking officials at the association believe funds can still be accounted for and refuses to accept that they have been reckless when it comes to spending. The official who does not want be named is of the view that the association had to halt FIFA projects and concentrate on incidental expenses brought by COVID -19.
According to BFA expenditure, the CEO gets the higher chunk and that’s where most of the money went. A national trip to South Africa by senior national team has also seen the association spending close to a million.
Moreover, the communication department of the association is bleeding more money after a certain PR agency was appointed nearly two years ago.
Township Rollers first ever Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bennett Mamelodi has reportedly turned down an offer from Botswana Football Association (BFA) to take over the reins at the association as the new CEO.
This comes to the fore following the ‘always expected’ suspension of Goabaone Taylor in December 2021, on account of internal investigations relating to the misappropriation of funds that transpired before her eyes.
Sources speaking to this publication indicate that Taylor will eventually vacate her position, barely eight months after her historic appointment as the first ever lady to lead the often stubborn BFA secretariat.
Masterminds behind her appointment and eventual fall from grace wanted to therefore give Mamelodi an opportunity to assume the role, but the soft spoken administrator is reported to have chickened out, opting to stay put at Township Rollers.
It is not yet known why an ambitious man like Mamelodi’s feet will turn cold over a job that commands respect across football circles.
However, it is reported that the once rejected Mfolo Mfolo will have a second bite on the cherry after BFA president MacLean Letshwiti confided to his close allies that he was misled at a time when Mfolo was sacked.
The equally soft spoken Mfolo, who too has footprints at Township Rollers was fired just after the October 2020 elections for allegedly failing to take charge when the national under 17 was disqualified from the COSAFA tournament after failing the MRI test.
All the while, reports indicate that Mamelodi is eyeing the Botswana Football League (BFL) post where he made his name, but close sources continue to deny that the brother to Ashford Mamelodi will want to go back to Lekidi Football Centre given the manner in which his dismissal was handled about six years ago.
At the time of going to print, he could not be reached for comment.
As things stand, Mamelodi has been appointed as the project manager of BFL while holding the fort at Rollers. He is anticipated to provide insight on how the league can source sponsors for itself and run smoothly without struggles. He is also expected to erect a working structure for the BFL.
Mamelodi has previously worked with Jwaneng Galaxy as well as interim spells with Orapa United to help both clubs turn professional. He is said to be in love with what he does at Popa and it is why he is no longer intrigued by BFA political positions.
However, sources mention that Mamelodi will be tried once again but are skeptical that the man will agree to the deal even if it is mouthwatering.