A mouthwatering 2016/17 First Division North (FDN) is in store for football lovers up north. The icing on the cake is perhaps the fact that the dusty league is dominated by teams that have previously traded in the elite league, an addition expected to heighten the rivalry at the grounds.
For many years now, the FDN has been rated lower than their southern counterparts – last season though, the northerners broke the norm and promoted two teams to the premier league.
However, the campaign which takes off this afternoon (Saturday) is tipped to be as good as elite football, much like in the past. The league leadership is also busy negotiating with the business community to come to the party and partner with them at this opportune time.
As for the teams, they have made their intentions clear that come next season they want to be among the crème de la crème at the premier league. But of all the titans who is likely to master the art and win the championship next year May?
ECCO CITY GREENS
Mamoja-Diskie is one of the heavy-weights in the league, having failed to gain promotion only by a whisker last season. However, this time around the green machine is well oiled and ready to conquer.
“We have no excuse, our team has been rehearsing well for the campaign and we are glad that we retained the core of the team together with the coach hence we expect continuation to lay the golden eggs come end of the season,” said the team’s communication head Gift Keaitse.
The Francistown side begins their quest today by visiting Real Movers of Selibe Phikwe. “We just want to take-off on a high because if you do so chances are you can go all the way, and today re letsa thupa hela,” Keaitse said. As part of the preparations, the former premier league champions have opened food stalls around the city to raise the funds, and they have also released a document to lure investors to their side in their efforts to bounce back.
The reds are fresh from a 3-0 win over rivals Tasc in the Independence Cup and the momentum is expected to continue until they reach their destination. Last season, Tafic dreamt in vain of a premier league comeback, they still harbour the same dreams, and it remains to be seen how things will turn out for them, especially with the heightened competition. Apart from the independence tournament the team has been on silent mode, but they remain a threat that could win the league in May, efforts to understand how the team has been preparing were not successful.
Sowa could have qualified for the premier league last season, but administration goofs saw them failing to maintain their pace. This time around the team is under the pragmatic Enos Mmesi who has immense experience. “We have been sweating out preparing for the season and we managed to better the players’ condition though it wasn’t easy, but I’m confident we will gain the promotion we aspire,” club chairperson Bashi Joseph said. The team has managed to attract talents from Sankoyo Bush Bucks and Kazungula Young Fighters to help push the agenda. Their financial strength is also expected to give them a slight advantage over other teams.
The ambitious Palapye side will have to show their worthiness this season when they battle it out with other titans. Just like Satmos they also relegated last season and it remains to be seen if they can make the much anticipated return. Having lost three of their regular players last season Chouka has the potential to electrify their competitors with the available arsenal. The presence of the team will give the likes of Ecco necessary competition that fans are itching for.
FC Satmos who were relegated last season have the means to surprise many more so they never lost any of the prized assets. TASC, who played at the final of the independence cup, could also be a dark horse, they have the experience but their quality is not convincing. The other team that has made waves is Morupule Wanderers under the eye of Oris Radipotsane; with money power to pull the players they want “Wandi-wandi” could be the surprise package in the league. They have made their intentions clear that they are eyeing a premier league return. Great North Tigers is another team that cannot be overlooked since they have been in the premier league and it is always fireworks when they play rivals (Ecco, Tasc &Tafic) but of late the team has been on low profile leaving many wondering whether they would pull the show expected.
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.