Skeletons tumble out of BFA closet
Botswana Football Association (BFA) has been hit by a ghost from the past after a South African based company slapped them with an invoice, demanding payment for negotiating on their behalf, a Debswana First Division sponsorship at the close of last year.
A company called Asinamona Investments (PTY)Ltd has delivered a proof of purchase to the Letshwiti led association demanding to be paid money in the region of P 400 000 as payment for negotiating the First Division deal, agreed when senior lawyer, Tebogo Sebego was at the helm of the association. The difficulty now facing BFA is that, their contract copy is nowhere to be found.
The issue threatens to veer off Letshwiti‘s association while attempts to locate the brains of the decision makers continue to hit a snag. It is said the deal with Asinamona Company was processed without the input of association’s National Executive Committee (NEC) as per procedure and the huge amount demanded by the purchase order is said to be giving the current regime sleepless nights.
Reports however say the association will attempt to pay the company but will trail the past administration for the blunder caused. It is said it is a regrettable issue more particularly that the BFA has a sponsorship committee that could have been consulted to carry on with the job.
The association is reeling in shock over the appointment of a third party on the negotiating table. What is more disturbing, according to sources, is the realisation that the deal with the sponsors is all more the same, nothing has changed from the previous contract when a consultant was not engaged.
Debswana began powering first division league in 2013. The lower league had endured seven turbulent years without a sponsor. In 2013, the association successfully cajoled the diamond company to agree to the ever-changing dynamics of the local sport. At the time of penning a three year deal, Debswana splashed P6 million towards the league’s sponsorship.
Former BFA Vice President in the administration wing of the association, Boyce Sebetlela was praised to have played a fundamental role in bringing Debswana on the radar. In 2016 when the terms of the new deal were negotiated, sources say not much of compromise was undertaken as the company did not increase the prize money.
The First Division is categorised into two bands; North and South. Each comprises of 12 teams. The winners from each group goes away with P20 000, runners up each get P10 000 while those finishing on spot three are entitled to P5 000 each. During the first few years of the deal, teams were receiving monthly grants of P12 000, but with the passage of time, they complained that the grants fall short to meet their ever ballooning demands of administration. The association heeded their cry and resolved to give them P50 000, not on monthly basis, but for the entire season.
BFA Vice President, Marshlow Motlogelwa, is said to be handling the “Asinamona issue” but the football administrator refused to give a detail account of what happened. “No no, such matters are internal and we cannot discuss anything until we get to the bottom of it,’’ he said.
Since Debswana came on board, different teams have won the championship, a pure demonstration of competition that came with millions of pula. In 2013 season, Orapa United became the champions in north, while Wonder Sporting, now called Police XI won from the South league. Sankoyo Bush Bucks all the way from Maun won the following year while Letlapeng took the south title.
In 2015, Miscellaneous FC were crowned north champions and a team from Jwaneng known as Jwaneng Galaxy got away with south championship. Last season, Mahalapye Hotspurs were crowned champions from the South league while Black Forest from Mmankgodi took the north title.
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AFRICA’S RECOVERY: Sports as game changer
The year 2022 witnessed unprecedented phenomena. Several Africans- Gotytom Gebreslase, Sharon Lokedi, Victor Kiplangat, Tamarit Tola and many others- swept the World’s marathons records.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting control measures implemented in several countries, led to many high-level sports competitions being cancelled or shelved, the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games was moved to 2026.
Founder and Executive Chairman, African Sports and Creative Institute, Will Mabiakop, says the inability to hold traditional and amateur sports events have had a serious effect on public health overall, including mental health, sparking a revolution whereby athletes began to talk more openly about stress, mental overload and performance anxiety.
“Africa is home to the fastest growing economies before the crisis, no longer on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COVID-19 deepened interdependence between SDGs, making them harder to achieve, especially SDG 10 (reducing inequality) and SDG 5 (gender equality_ as the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on poorer countries, and heavier burdens (such as care work) fell to women.”
Mabiakop stresses that as policymakers contemplate actions to speed up recovery and build resilience, they must argue that sports and creative businesses should play a central feature in this effort.
“The sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africa’s sports and creative industries can offer policymakers innovative solutions. Especially, as regards job creation, and providing employment to the 15 million people entering the job market annually.”
HOW CAN THE INDUSTRY DO THIS?
By leveraging the two-for-one concept: past studies shown that a 1% growth in the economy delivers a 2% job increment in this sector (these ratios are calculated using data from 48 African countries and adjusted to the reality of the sports economy in Africa by the authors). There are between 30 and 50 job types, in sports and creative industries, respectively. These jobs do not fade away with the first major shock.
Mabiakop indicated that policymakers can use these industries to tackle multiple crises- jobs, poverty, and climate risks. Sports diplomacy- defined as communication, representation and negotiation in or through the prism of sports- has proven effective in building inclusive and cohesive societies. Moreover, sports and the creative industry can support better mental health and well-being, both important for productivity.
“Policymakers can also be true to the game by leveraging culture and tradition to celebrate identity and reap commercial value in sports, textiles and jewelry. Creative sectors allow deeper connection with culture, are not easily copied and provide great economic potential.”
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. “Fortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.”
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. “First avoid build it and they will come policies with infrastructures denuded from the rest of the ecosystem. Like the many sports stadiums left largely unused.”
“Policymakers must remain mindful of how these sectors move the needle in human capital development. Also, align the requisite public policies needed for progress from grassroots participation to professional sports, and even to international sporting events. They should also support investment instruments to render these sectors performant.”