Why Sebego suspended League Board
The road to the Botswana Football Association (BFA)’s July general elections is getting narrower by the day. The mood at Lekidi football centre is shifting, and BFA President, Tebogo Sebego is stamping his authority.
In an unexpected twist of the events on 20 July 2016, Sebego, for the first time in his four year tenure as BFA president, had to develop thick skin.
The battle between the Premier League Board and his stubborn National Executive Committee (NEC) might be intensifying at a time many are hoping for a football miracle.
The NEC characteristically has frozen the mere independence of the Premier League board by suspending it until the BFA convenes for further clarity. But even as this cold decision was taken, the NEC had to split, giving birth to an ugly monster with two different assertions- one in the affirmative, the other in opposition. Politically speaking, as BFA president spelt out the charge sheet against the equally puzzled board, he was surrounded by men and women who made up the back-bone of his lobby team in retaining BFA power.
In his presence was Basadi Akoonyatse-contesting for the Vice Presidency, Suzie Montsho, eyeing an additional member post and Lesego Leaketsa, a known moral voice of Sebego. The group was accompanied by BFA legal advisor, Onkagetse Pusoentse and the shrewd sport administrator, Kitso Kemoeng as Chief Executive Officer in the BFA secretariat. Questions silently filtered at the conspicuous absence of other NEC members aligned with Sebego’s firm challenger, Maclean Letshwiti.
In between the amazement of their absence and the thought of the unknown, the Premier League board verdict was spelt out. It went viral much faster than veldt fires. Sebego said the Premier League board had been involved in a series of misconduct.
Sebego therefore, brought them under the scalpel for condoning a match between Jwaneng Galaxy and Mochudi Centre Chiefs on 7th May 2016, which was against the wishes of the sponsor.
Sebego and his NEC found another wrong in them when the board wrote to the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) to interfere with a lawful premier league playoff match.
The board‘s transgression again became higher than the mountain when they flatly refused to reinstate suspended league CEO, Bennett Mamelodi and his Personal Assistant (PA). Sebego had previously instructed them to bring back Mamelodi as charges against him were dropped. Instead, the board applied for a rejoinder to further argue Mamelodi’s case as respondents.
The Premier League board was again shown that their sins were deeper than the valley when they took BFA to court in a case involving the BPL CEO.
At the time of going to print, BPL had not reacted to the suspension.
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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.”