Premier League rejects colonise First Division North
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.
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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.”