At a time when the top division football is grappling with administrative brawls, football administrators had to put the dark hours behind and focus on delivering the Mascom top 8 tournament awards.
The Ofentse Nato saga had threatened to also derail the Mascom Top Tournament but administrators quickly put the matter to bed.
The excitement and nervousness could be felt in the GICC hall when the award winners were to be announced.
The Township Rollers faithful kept their fingers crossed that their favorite players walk away with the main individual awards; while the Orapa United diehards also wanted their “deserving” stars to be honoured after bringing the trophy at the diamond town.
It was not surprising that the first award for supporters’ player of the tournament went to Rollers forward Segolame “Smah” Boy who eventually pocketed P10 000. Township Rollers is a popular side and has a wide following as compared to Orapa United.
Of course there was some mumbling within the four walls of the GICC hall, as it was argued that the player is not deserving because he did not feature a lot. Boy scored the solo goal against Orapa and featured minimally hence the argument by many that he was not the deserving candidate. At the end of the day the supporters have spoken.
There was a real battle in the Payer of the tournament category where three Lions in the same cage tussled for the award. Orapa United duo of Ronald “RC7” Chikomo, Olekantse “Moropa” Mambo and Rollers’ Maano “Aboutreika” Ditshupo raised their hands for the most prestigious award carrying a monetary value of P 50,000.
Rollers captain, Ditshupo was deservingly called up to the stage to claim the award. With his hard work, consistency and his ability to score many goals as a midfielder, there was no how the player couldn’t take the award, despite facing a tough competition from Chikomo.
Goalkeeper of the tournament saw the Tati-Siding born Orapa United goalkeeper, Mosimanegape Robert win the award. He battled it out against Township Rollers’ Kabelo Dambe and BDF XI’s Mowampole Masule. The Ostriches goalkeeper produced a stellar performance in the final to dent Rollers late surge, there was no better candidate than Orapa’s goal minder.
While the competition lied on the two goalkeepers reaching the finals, statistics speak for Robert. He conceded five goals as compared to Dambe’s seven goals which made him the right man to take home P25 000. “I would like to thank the Orapa family for the support that enabled me to win this award,” Robert told Weekendsport.
Coach of the season award was kept many on their seats, Mark Harrison, Beston Chambeshi and Madinda Ndlovu were the candidates. The Zimbabwean gaffer, Ndlovu beat the Zambian and Briton rivals to win the award, following his historic win of the tournament with the under-dog Orapa united.
The tactics he employed, against Extension Gunners to eliminate them 3-1 away and his comeback in the final to win the trophy were the outstanding performances that gave him the P25 000 cheque. “This trophy I dedicate to all the coaches that featured in this tournament,” he said in his thanking speech.
For the top goal scorer award there was no speculation – Chikomo and Ditshupo won the golden boot after scoring four goals each. “Just want to appreciate the technical team and the management for showing faith on me, and I am glad I have been able to win the trophy back to back,” Chikomo told this paper. The duo went home with P15 00 each The other awards for the officials saw Tirelo Mositwane taking the referee of the tournament while Mogomotsi Morakile took the assistant referee, the awards weighed P15 000.
Betsho “Ghama” Pius’s classic goal against Rollers in the semi-finals saw the Police XI captain taking away P10 000.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership finds itself caught between a rock and a hard place owing to the ever burning issue of mischievous spending at operational level.
While the association coffers have suddenly dried up, with some staff members getting the boot, the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development has threatened to place the Maclean Letshwiti led association under strict funding for unspecified period of time.
WeekendSport learns that the sport ministry is not happy about the financial status of the association and will want to act before everything get messy.
At the close of last year, the Ministry had to intervene for the Women National Football Team to travel to Ethiopia as BFA had no penny to cover for the travelling costs.
As if that was not enough, the BFA December wages were covered from the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) purse, an abnormality that BFA is at pains to explain.
All these incidents, however, coincide with a time when the Sport ministry is putting in place a new revised modeling for funding. The model requests national sports associations to explain in details the why they will need funding for their calendar of events.
Moreover, the Ministry is eager to prioritize funding basing on the performance of the sport code on a yearly basis.
“Things have changed, we are not going to splash money like we used to do, and we want a code to explain fully how they are going to spend the money,” a source shared.
Moreover, we will be funding looking at the overall performance of the code, we are not going to fund just because it is football and it is loved by many people.”
At worst, the ministry will want the association to account and should BFA fail to balance their books, the National Executive Committee(NEC) is likely to be dissolved by the ministry.
Sources further state that the Ministry’s patience has actually wilted away concerning codes that abuse funds. In the case of BFA, sources point out that they are likely to get half subvention until everything goes back to normalcy.
On a good year, BFA subvention reaches P 5.4million annually. Should the ministry persists, BFA will start operations of the year on a budget of about P 2.7 million. It will not be for the first time the association finds itself bearing the brunt.
Sometimes in 2018 when Tshekedi Khama was the Minister, the association’s subvention were cut down to pay an old standing debt that amounted to P3 million.
However, high ranking officials at the association believe funds can still be accounted for and refuses to accept that they have been reckless when it comes to spending. The official who does not want be named is of the view that the association had to halt FIFA projects and concentrate on incidental expenses brought by COVID -19.
According to BFA expenditure, the CEO gets the higher chunk and that’s where most of the money went. A national trip to South Africa by senior national team has also seen the association spending close to a million.
Moreover, the communication department of the association is bleeding more money after a certain PR agency was appointed nearly two years ago.
Township Rollers first ever Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bennett Mamelodi has reportedly turned down an offer from Botswana Football Association (BFA) to take over the reins at the association as the new CEO.
This comes to the fore following the ‘always expected’ suspension of Goabaone Taylor in December 2021, on account of internal investigations relating to the misappropriation of funds that transpired before her eyes.
Sources speaking to this publication indicate that Taylor will eventually vacate her position, barely eight months after her historic appointment as the first ever lady to lead the often stubborn BFA secretariat.
Masterminds behind her appointment and eventual fall from grace wanted to therefore give Mamelodi an opportunity to assume the role, but the soft spoken administrator is reported to have chickened out, opting to stay put at Township Rollers.
It is not yet known why an ambitious man like Mamelodi’s feet will turn cold over a job that commands respect across football circles.
However, it is reported that the once rejected Mfolo Mfolo will have a second bite on the cherry after BFA president MacLean Letshwiti confided to his close allies that he was misled at a time when Mfolo was sacked.
The equally soft spoken Mfolo, who too has footprints at Township Rollers was fired just after the October 2020 elections for allegedly failing to take charge when the national under 17 was disqualified from the COSAFA tournament after failing the MRI test.
All the while, reports indicate that Mamelodi is eyeing the Botswana Football League (BFL) post where he made his name, but close sources continue to deny that the brother to Ashford Mamelodi will want to go back to Lekidi Football Centre given the manner in which his dismissal was handled about six years ago.
At the time of going to print, he could not be reached for comment.
As things stand, Mamelodi has been appointed as the project manager of BFL while holding the fort at Rollers. He is anticipated to provide insight on how the league can source sponsors for itself and run smoothly without struggles. He is also expected to erect a working structure for the BFL.
Mamelodi has previously worked with Jwaneng Galaxy as well as interim spells with Orapa United to help both clubs turn professional. He is said to be in love with what he does at Popa and it is why he is no longer intrigued by BFA political positions.
However, sources mention that Mamelodi will be tried once again but are skeptical that the man will agree to the deal even if it is mouthwatering.
Township Rollers veterans, who are reaching the end of their careers are hoping to part on high note, but the club has had a slow start to the season, playing second fiddle to its city rivals, Gaborone United. The Reds has won the first edition of FA Cup since 2012 — now under the sponsorship of network giants, Orange — to send a memo to league rivals that this season is not business as usual.
Rollers has responded in controversial fashion, firing coach Hassan Oktay after suffering the ignominy of being knocked out by top flight football rockies, Masitiaoka. The Blues have since appointed Frenchman Romain Folz to turn the club’s pot of gold into silverware, an attempt that his predecessor, Oktay has failed early into the season. After clinching players with vast experience, the expectation is still enormous at Popa that all available cups including the league title should find space in their trophy cabinet.
Also, the club would want to traverse a torrid passage of CAF champion’s league, reaching group stages, once more. It is in this regard that Ofentse Nato is hoping for his own great leap forward in effort to end his injury nightmare. The no nonsense defensive midfielder has only featured once for the team this year owing to unspecified injuries. This is the first time, in his football carrier that Nato misses the first five opening games of the season.
His absence could have left Rollers struggling. But he too, could struggle to return to his former self, missing the opportunity to drive Rollers back to glory days, alongside the rest of a gilded trio of the club; Maano Ditshupo, Simisane Mathumo and of course Motsholetsi Sikele. But the teams’ insistency and promise to make a loud impact this season is yet to bear fruits. The quartet will have to stand strong otherwise the ambition mirrors a tomorrow that will never come.
As part of the multi-million project of Jagdish Shah, the players were recruited to embody the present and future of the club. But all of them are on the wrong side of 30. Maano is 36, Nato is 32, Mathumo is 30 while Sikele is 30. Both Ditshupo and Mathumo are exchanging the armband while Sikele has almost lost his starting berth to youngsters. Nato is also slowing down and it appears he has seen his better days.
The talent of the big four should make the case for Rollers to finally make headline impact, particularly in the league and FA cup starting in January next year. Rollers coaches agree that as a unit they could find an edge and this band of serial winners glimpse glory. The sense all could awaken for the business end is enhanced by their respective pedigrees. All the four know the pleasure of taking Rollers to glory days, they also understand the pain of failing with the club.
Ditshupo in particular, has been the most consistent player of all in Rollers squad; it betrays logic why he was never called to represent the country. In the first five games of the season, Rollers have been nothing but a luke warm club. They have emitted mixed reactions. They started well, clobbering Lobatse Outfit, Extension Gunners by 2-0. Against premier league rookies, Masitaoka, they huffed and puffed, but the absence of midfielder Ditshupo was conspicuously seen as they were knocked out of the tournament.
However, the quartet returned to the lineup for the first time as a unit against Notwane in a midweek fixture. Rollers were not convincing despite winning 1-0 to return to the summit. Judging by their performance and age, the quartert might not play Rollers ball again next season as premier league retirement looms.