FIFA boosts BFA coffers
WOMEN FOOTBALL: The struggling women’s football may benefit from the funds
The Botswana Football Association (BFA) President, Tebogo Sebego has all the reasons to smile following an ‘intimate’ meeting he had with the newly voted FIFA President, Gianni Infantinno at the 67th FIFA congress.
Although the details of the 20 minutes meeting between the two was kept secret by Sebego save for him mentioning that they “discussed policy issues of where to direct football” and the hints that the local president will be useful in FIFA structures in the future, the highlight was the financial boost by the football governing body.
According to Sebego, BFA has been assured of P12, 5 million from FIFA as part of the body’s mandate to encourage growth of football to other countries like Botswana.
However Sebego said that the initial P2.5 million they have been getting from FIFA has been increased by the same amount to make it P5 million as their annual grant. “These are interesting times for our football as this sum will help to reach where we couldn’t in the past,” Sebego said. The other P7.5 million will be for the financial assistance programme where the money would be used to carry out their own football projects.
The money will be allocated to various projects that the association plans to undertake, which however could not be revealed by the President on Thursday. However it appears women’s football will get the lion’s share from the boost while others will be channeled through development structures and for other pressing issues for the Association more so that there is an ongoing restructuring exercise at Lekidi.
With the financials only reachable by application, the local Association has already devised a strategy to make sure that ugly faces like corruption are kept at bay. Lekidi has recently been rocked by corruption allegations. “Projects implementers are on standby to ensure that the works run smoothly.” This apart from corruption, Sebego said is to ensure that the envisaged projects’ deadline will be adhered to as well as to avoid disappointments of late submissions by the company awarded the tender.
Sebego further added that their plan to build a goal project in Francistown has failed following the disagreement between the City council and the association. “We thought we could build a similar ground to the one the national teams use for their training in Francistown but the leadership wanted us to lease a stadium for P20 000 monthly and it was too much,” he said. Following the impasse he said as the NEC they took a decision to erect that facility in Lekidi so that the national teams won’t suffer when they are all in camps.
Butler could have long been fired, contract saved him
On the other hand, the BFA president made startling remarks that national team coach Peter Butler, would have been fired by now had it not been for him having a contract.
Sebego was responding to questions as to why Pio Paul was sacked, while Butler wasn’t, despite them having committed the same transgression. He said that Paul was easy to fire since he was a volunteer, and since Butler had a contract there is no inclusion in it for him to be fired for such.
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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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