A cloud of total upheaval is about to befall the once mighty Gaborone United Sporting Club as their long time financier, Nicholas Zackhem, prepares to cut ties with the team this coming Wednesday.
Reports of divorce between the two long surfaced in January this year and the team top brass preferred to be tight lipped on the matter. Sources then revealed that the club was sitting on a time ticking bomb that could explode anytime, their words have since materialized following this past Wednesday meeting between the two where the construction magnate vehemently defended his stance of leaving the club.
Impeccable sources have revealed to this publication that the club’s top hierarchy has been in a series of meetings with the business magnate, with the hope to coerce him to change his mind about leaving, albeit without success.
“Zack is unmoved, he made up his mind and the efforts made in our meetings have hit the brick wall,” a source said. It is said that he slapped the Okaile led committee with a letter reminding them of his resignation in one of the meetings where they tried to sweet talk him.
“At this time I am not in a position to share anything with you, I really don’t think I could be of any use right now maybe sometime but not now,” said the embattled GU Chairman, Rapula Okaile on Thursday.
Zackhem who was the mastermind behind Okaile’s ascension to the club’s influential post last year July by “sponsoring his campaign”, is reportedly vexed by a number of issues which sources say, are internal fights within the Old Naledi outfit. “Though he seems hurt he says the reasons for the departure are internal affairs within the team.”
Information before Weekendsport shows a fallout between the two forces which emerged after Okaile assumed office; and tried to balance things by consulting with other members of the society; something that was not tolerated by the financier.
“Remember Rapula was under pressure that he wasn’t the legitimate chair of the team and he tried to engage the society lot who were decrying alienation,” a source further stated, “But this angered Zack who felt he was not the kingpin as he used to be hence he decided to pack his bags.”
Some of the issues that the members of the society were consulted on included – the transactions of the club; the hiring of personnel, which in the past was done single handedly by Soccer Dynamics – Zackhem’ s extension company which was running the affairs of the club.
The raging fires within the 2008/09 league champions has left the Reds treading on thin ice, in fact, financial doldrums are said to be inevitable.
The business mogul’s imminent departure has left a gloomy picture for the team as Mutual & Federal; a sponsor who is said to have been lured by the millionaire businessman is expected to leave when the deal elapses this coming season. The sponsorship which was signed in 2014 saw GU getting P1.2 million each season for three seasons.
The thunderstorm that has struck the team is said to have affected players. “Of course they are worried though we have calmed them,” the sources said, “the likes of Shilongo are watching and chances of renewing his deal are as best as zero.” The money machine had drafted a long term strategy of winning the league next season by making some big signings targeting the likes of Tapiwa Gadibolae and Lemponye Tshireletso but it appears the plan will be aborted following the recent developments at the club.
WHERE IS HE GOING?
With Zackhem leaving the team he has been with for over two decades, it is believed he is headed to Gilport Lions, a team owned by his ‘friend’, Kelesitse Gilika.
It is said, having ‘spearheaded’ commercialization at GU he is willing to only invest in a viable structure similar to that of Gilika. Those closer to the businessman maintain that Gilport Lions is the destination of choice, quashing reports of possible marriage with Notwane.
“It is clear he is going to Gilport Lions,” a source told Weekendsport. Zackhem has came out as a clear admirer of the team having found a P6 million investor for them early this year, he is expected to either partner with Gilika or buy a stake in the team.
This paper’s attempts to solicit comment from Zackhem were futile as his mobile number rang unanswered.
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.
Township Rollers is anticipated to spent around P 50 000 to expatriate their foreign based players amid ravaging corona virus threats. The club, in collaboration with the Football Union of Botswana (FUB) tested Francis Afriyie, Fabian Assagou Guy and Kamogelo Matsabu before they can head to their native countries.
The trio are awaiting the results which are all expected to come out negative, following which they will immediately board planes to their various destinations. Afriyie was a Rollers striker from Ghana.
Matsabu, regarded the darling of the club is heading back to South Africa while Guy signed by the club but has never impressed, will board a plane back to Ivory Coast.It is likely that both Matsabu and Guy will return as they are still contracted to Rollers. However, Afriyie will not return after failing Rollers litmus test.
The striker failed to break into the starting 11 of head coach Frank Nuttall for the season and it appeared that frustration got to him. And when it finally knocked him down, the striker in a rough and unexpected remonstration stormed out of the bench while a Rollers game was on.
The former Gho Maria striker penned a two year deal in January and it is rumoured that his contract was heavily incentivized, catapulting him to being one of the highest paid players at Rollers.His end of season departure will now put a serious question mark over Rollers’ recruitment policy.
He becomes the fourth foreign striker to fail the club examinations and released while on contract. Before him was, Mthokosize Msomi from South Africa, Terrence Mandawa from Tanzania and Fabian Mbowa from Ivory Coast. Msomi and Mandawa’s release were sanctioned by former coach Nikola Kavazovic. Mbowa is loaned to Police XI to create space and playing opportunity for the now departing Afriyie.
Releasing Afriyie will now mean that the club’s striking woes continue. Rollers management complained at times last season at the lack of productivity from their strikers but they hoped that striker Tumisang Orebonye and other targeted signings, aided perhaps by Edwin Moalosi who remains on the books, could fire an upturn.
However, it was never meant to be as they finished the season second behind league winners, Jwaneng Galaxy.
Black Leopards head coach, Joel Masutha, is reported to have orchestrated a move that could see mid fielder-cum-striker, Mogakolodi Tsotso Ngele, being dropped by Leopards.
WeekendSport has learnt that the coach summoned the Zebras former captain to a one-on-one meeting a month ago to relay the bad news. It is reported that Masutha told the player that he is surplus to requirement and therefore he will not be selected for any game unless he opts to leave.
Reports further state that Tsotso was not encouraged to fight for his position but instead was told that there are better players to be tasked with scoring responsibilities and helping the club to dodge the dreaded relegation axe.Ngele therefore is waiting for his contract to expire before plotting his next move. He is said to be torn between playing for one more year in South Africa and coming to Botswana to play for high paying Township Rollers.
The Rollers decision will once again hinge on his private business which he would love to monitor closely. He owns a sports clothing label where he already signed a two year deal with Notwane FC.Ngele’s career at Leopards blew hot and cold. He only enjoyed his stay when his former coach Calvin Johnson was at the helm.
He played in crucial matches and his stunning free kick against log leaders Kaizer Chiefs is still remembered by his followers.However, there have been many other factors at play.It is said Ngele’s future at Thohoyandou- a location where Black Leopards is based- encountered problems of many kinds. His future is believed to have been dulled by injuries and a confidence that strangely refused to bloom.
The player is also said to have broken ranks with Leopards management where he shocked them when playing for the senior national team last year albeit claiming to be suffering from a thigh injury. Ngele had signed a two year deal, but as things stand, the left footed midfielder is heading out as his contract staggers to an end. He is believed to be earning close to R80 000 after tax deductions.
The lifestyle and living conditions at Thohoyandou are also seen as factors that further complicate Ngele’s situation hence the sudden collapse of concentration in football.Ngele is said to be represented by Tim Sukazi who still hopes that the player’s breakthrough career is worth fighting for.
When signed by high spending Mamelodi Sundowns almost 5 years ago, he was represented by Mike Makaab, also a renowned football agent in South Africa.It is growing precarious for Ngele who was chained for longer spells at Sundowns.
But when a move to Leopards was announced, there was a high expectation that the player was nearing his revolutionary season.