Tough times lie ahead for Nico United FC as fears that the club may soon collapse grow thick. Weekend Sport has learnt that the club is on slippery ground following its main sponsor, BCL being shut down. As it is, the club started the year (2016) on a negative balance sheet as even before the provisional liquidation, BCL already had financial problems and cut off their assistance to the club.
“Since the beginning of this year BCL has not being doing well hence we have not being receiving our sponsorship accordingly, thus we had troubles with paying our players and settling hospitality bills, but it was better, but now the liquidation has completely paralyzed us because we no longer have a free bus from the company, our utility bills at the offices and training grounds are on us to settle,’’ revealed Coach Blue Same, a technical mentor at Nico United.
According to Same, the club now only makes do with grants from Botswana Premier League which are not enough. The club also survives on individual contributions from good Samaritans and well wishers. The club’s board which usually saved the team also comprises BCL employees who have since lost their jobs. “When I say the liquidation has hit us hard I mean this: our board comprises of former BCL employees, most of them managers and superintendents, this gentlemen have been helping with money from their pockets but now they are unemployed and some are already out of town scouting for greener pastures elsewhere, we are in big trouble,” he said .
According to the coach, the mine’s closure has lead to an exodus of the bulk of the team board members, further revealing his fears that this could be the end of his team. The board chairman is allegedly tipped for a new lucrative job at Lucara Karowe mine. According to sources at Majombolo, players have not been receiving their monthly payments and will be going for Christmas holidays empty handed “These are children, young men and boys who play for the team whole heartedly, it is unfortunate that the club cannot pay them accordingly for the simple reason that there is no money,” explained a source.
However, Same confirmed to this publication that Selibe Phikwe based business magnate, China Mading has however been coming to the club’s rescue a number of times with transport. “We no longer have any funds to finance our logistics, just last week Former Satmos mentor China Mading came to our rescue at the 11th hour and provided his minibus freely for the club to honour the fixtures,” Same said.
Information gathered by Weekend Sport three weeks ago revealed that Majombolo is also wooing Mading for a more commanding spot in the dressing room. Nico United Communications & Marketing Manager Mogomotsi Orapeleng told this publication that the assistance of the former goalkeeper and now local football icon has done the club good thus far. “Yes he has been and is continuing to help us with transport and logistics as well as other administrative matters,” he said.
Apart from the helping hand of their former legendary goal keeper Nico united has been relying on contributions from their Gaborone based supporters and Phikwe originals under the coordination of Vusa Ziga ,a local shrewd football analyst and sport administrator who extend an administrative helping hand to the club from time to time. “Sometime when we reach a dead end with hotel bookings for our games down south, our Gaborone based supporters and members come to the rescue with contributions and connections with hospitality service providers that side,” revealed a source.
Information gathered by this publication also revealed that a Gaborone based investor had expressed interest in injecting capital into the club, but members rejected him as he wanted to relocate the team to Gaborone. “Our financial troubles makes us vulnerable to vultures who want to take advantage of us, the investor wanted to use us for a status in the lucrative multi Million pula BTC Premier league ,but our members, being the registered fans rejected him,” added the source who preferred anonymity.
CLUB WANTS TO MEET SPEDU & LINAH MHOHLO According to Same they have taken a resolution to find ways to Selibe Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) for assistance. Same also told Weekend Sport that they are in the process of requesting Phikwe Economic Revitalization Strategy coordinator Linah Mohohlo‘s audience. “Sport and football presents tourism in the first place, and then small business flourishes under football events, thus we want SPEDU and Linah Mhohlo to use us to keep the town alive.”
A source from Nico United administrative corridors also told this publication that SPEDU can even assist them with finances since they sponsored a golf tournament to a tune of P100 000 earlier this year. “We feel SPEDU can come to our rescue, we will engage them as soon as January next year , if they can’t help us financially then one way or the other they have the acumen to assist us, we want them to organize us a meeting with Linah Mhohlo,” a Nico United administrator revealed. “We are of the view that Sports and football can complement Phikwe rebirth efforts through events tourism and keeping the town alive while economic resuscitation is in process.”
Established in 1969 Nico United is an association sporting club formed by BCL Miners, The team rejoined the Botswana Premier League for the 2004-05 season after spending the 2003-04 season playing in the second level, First Division-North, and has since then maintained their stay in the Premier league. The club launched a new technical sponsor in Pedigree Sportswear to dress the team amid financial crises. Nico United sits at position 9 in the BTC Premier league with 15 points and last week suffered a 3 nil defeat against Security Systems.
Amid the confusion surrounding the date of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) elections, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, met with three presidential candidates on Thursday morning to discuss a plethora of problems bedevilling the domestic game.
The candidates are Maclean Letshwiti, the current President, Tebogo Sebego, the firm challenger of the BFA throne, together with Ookeditse Malesu who enters the race for the first time in his sporting career. There were other two unnamed officials who are said to be representatives from the sport ministry.
The Sport minister is said to have adopted a hard-nosed approach to register his disappointment and worry that the uncertainty of the upcoming elections have injured the administration of the local game.
Highly placed sources at the Sport ministry say that the minister’s ‘no gloves barred’ approach comes at the behest of the BFA’s constant negative headlines regarding their leadership style as of going into the elections.
It is said that Rakgare was also worried that the current administration is keeping the other two camps in the dark regarding the planning and processes bordering on election issues. This, he said has led to unnecessary speculations and back biting that is not needed to lift the game at a time when it is on its knees.
He was to rattle a few feathers at one incident when he called all the three leaders of the game to put their houses in order. As if that was not enough, the minister called on the three lobby groups to desist from serving personal interests but put focus on developing the game.
Interestingly, sources point out that the minister was livid but urged both Letshwiti and Sebego groups to refrain from tarnishing the good image of the ministry. This, he said in response to wide ranging allegations that he is taking sides as campaigns are ongoing.
The Sebego group accuses him of de campaigning Sebego and having a soft spot for Team Letshwiti while the same Letshwiti group is saying the same thing about the minister as having taking curious interest in Sebego camp.
The minister is alleged to have told the leaders that if they do not change their leadership style of protecting those looting public funds, his ministry would intervene even if it means attracting the wrath of FIFA, which is known for its notorious sanctions when countries do not toe the line. He urges BFA to be accountable at all the times they will cut the annual subventions that goes to them, sources claim.
This is not for the first time that the BFA was lectured on good governance. At one incident in 2015, former Minster of Sport Thapelo Olopeng dressed down the then Tebogo Sebego leadership regarding good governance.
BFA was at the time closely monitored by the ministry. Instead of the usual transactions that normally go through BFA, national team players received their allowances straight from government in the form of cheques. To demonstrate that government has taken a firm stand against BFA, players’ allowances were no longer routed through the association.
Nobody from the said meeting will address this publication enquiry all indicating that the consultation is never meant for public consumption.
If everything goes according to plan, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) will hold its annual general assembly next month through a virtual conference.
There has been much uncertainty as to how and when the congress will be held seeing as how COVID-19 protocols remain stringent on gatherings.
Sources speaking with this publication say the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the association has agreed to hold the congress within COVID-19 zones, consequently dispelling all the lingering doubts surrounding the life and soul of the assembly.
As it stands, there are nine COVID -19 zones in Botswana. The association is therefore contemplating to rely within four zones where live streaming will take centre stage for the first time in the history of BFA elections.
The congress was first billed for August 8th but was postponed to August 22nd. However, the second date could not see the light of the day as the country recorded a second rise of coronavirus cases that promptly led to greater Gaborone going into yet another lockdown.
The association has been procrastinating over the virtual congress idea with the election agenda remaining a sticky issue. Many advices came flooding that the association is free to make any decision about the congress but should be very careful not to compromise the integrity of the vote.
Sources indicate to this paper that the association is likely to rely on four COVID-19 zones, namely Gaborone, Francistown, Jwaneng and Palapye. The need to plant the meeting on virtual technologies hinges on the fact that the COVID -19 health protocols do not permit people to cross zones to hold meetings.
Information gleaned from various sources is that the association is looking to rely on four zones primarily because of the limited number of personnel under the electoral board. There are five members consisting of this committee and by the look of things; the association will not be allowed to outsource more election overseers at the eleventh hour. Sources argue that the whole cautious exercise is meant to avoid complaints that may arise after elections are held.
The virtual meeting comes after many failed attempts by the association to convince the Kereng Masupu led Task Force to give out a special dispensation. On many occasions, the Task Force refused to allow for the assembly to go on saying “football is not a priority.”
The assembly is expected to be held next month but the exact date still remains a subject of speculation. In the end, Tebogo Sebego will stand again for the second time to unseat Maclean Letshwiti while Ookeditse Malesu is standing for the first time to try and wrestle for BFA power.
The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, is eager to lead crunch talks that will consequently see Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) becoming one authoritative sport entity.
The appointment of one Tuelo Serufho to the plum position of BNSC Chief Executive Officer two week ago has further catalysed the intention to merge the sports bodies to avoid the long standing complaints of duplication of roles by the two.
Serufho was replacing Falcom Sedimo whose contract was not renewed.Serufho, ironically is the longest serving CEO of BNOC and also a board member of BNSC.“One of our aims is to form a robust sport body to centralize and improve decision making processes and maybe the time to resuscitate BNSC/BNOC merger is now,” Rakgare briefly shared.
The impending move is highly meant to improve effective functioning, governance and performance of sports in the country both locally and globally.Should this see the light of day, Botswana would have done itself a favour and it would start sending a handful of athletes to international competitions.
The amalgamation of BNSC/BNOC talks have been in the pipelines but discussions were aborted two years ago without clear reasons. The creation of this all-encompassing sport institution is overdue according to the minister.
“It is in fact our mandate to make sure this happens, it is overdue and by next year we hope to have finalised our position paper,” Rakgare added.The creation of the looming body is borne out of lessons learnt from various sports governance models around the world.
In South Africa, the sports ministry facilitated discussions to merge National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) and the South African Sports Commission. Their authoritative sports body is now called South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).
With the South African model well in place, Botswana is urged to bench mark and create a sport body as a civic society-based organisation as required by the statutes of international sports bodies.The name of the local sport body is mooted and the minister refused to give a hint. But he is optimistic that the body will be the vanguard organization of sport in the country.
He emphasized that the sports organisation should be a purposeful guardian for governance and management of sports and be the required defining figure of the role of sports in Botswana’s communities.Talks to revamp and rebuild these sports bodies come at a time when BNSC is restructuring.
When Sedimo was still at the helm, he wanted to phase out some positions which he felt were unnecessary.BNSC receive close to 53 million Pula as grants from the government through the Ministry of Youth, Sports development and Culture empowerment while BNOC takes a figure a closer to that.