Why Letshwiti has mountain to trek
Before his election, MacLean Letshwiti happened to just be an individual who had football at heart, often times his love for the game was expressed by him financing Kgatleng based Mochudi Centre Chiefs. The next four years, he plays an altogether different role in football, as it is not only about endearment alone.
As new President of the country football governing body, Botswana Football Association for the next four years, the low lying football administrator has ahead of him a huge mountain to trek.
Earlier, BFA elections, which led to infightings within its former president, Tebogo Sebego’s camp were annulled due to the Association being embroiled in corruption and maladministration accusations. The crisis would set the football body in a fracas and taint the image of the much loved sport. The election committee was to be appointed after FIFA gave direction.
The battle might be won for now, but the war goes on for Letshwiti and his troops. Perhaps he is just the panacea football needs, but he still has four years ahead to prove his worth.
Restoring BFA’s tainted image
In the build up to the election that took place earlier this month, all campaigns were centered on rebranding and restoring the image of the Association. The mess that exists at the football administrator is blamed mainly on poor decision making that eventually exposed it (BFA) to corruption.
As new BFA president, Letshwiti will have to be more realistic and not make too many promises which might be difficult for him to fulfill, whilst ensuring transparency in the running of affairs-transparency can curb corrupt practices.
Observers have said that the problems BFA had were never about the laws but the individuals who were trusted to run it.
Organization / winning the heart of the aggrieved
There is no denying that the crisis at BFA needs to be urgently attended to, and there is no quick fix to the situation. Since the federation has a new President and two Vice Presidents with no other vacant seats, it is important to get them organized as elections have ended. All hands must be on deck immediately.
The already existing conflict, along with the recent election might still have resulted in some more factions, as some may still be aggrieved. It is the duty of the president to organize the house and attend to all grievances in order to put things back on track.
At this juncture, all BFA activities should be made open and not secret so as to allow for more transparency and accountability, enough of shady deals! The new reform which allows for openness on annual basis for the BFA president, together with proposed move of offering performance based contract to BFA employees will come in handy.
Development The future of sports including football lies in the development of the grassroots which must be given full attention in view of saving the future of the game.
The immense spending power of the top clubs allows for high level play but it takes attention of fans away from smaller teams and clubs.
While globalization and regulations regarding freedom of movement will limit BFA’s efforts to effect change, more is actually needed to develop the raw talents from across the country.
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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.”
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