SPORTS PERSON OF THE YEAR NOMINEE: 400 metres athlete Isaac Makwala
The Botswana Athletics Association’s (BAA) much awaited commercialization dream will soon materialize as the sport’s top brass is expected to sign a deal with one of the world’s leading sports clothing company, Nike, Weekendsport has established.
Reports from inside the athletics body indicate that anytime could be tea time for the agreement to be signed off. It is said the gesture by BAA in last year’s World Athletics Championships where local athletes were all clad in Nike regalia was just a gentlemen’s agreement with nothing concrete agreed for athletics, despite claims that the deal was final. Talks have been ongoing behind the scenes between the two parties for a “lucrative deal for the benefit of athletes at the end of the day”.
This publication is informed that the deal will see athletes smiling all the way to the banks as it prioritizes them more than anything else. “We are only concerned about the athletes so that they can reap something and other factors are on the back track,” the Association mouthpiece Roland Masalila said. A hint for this agreement was made at last October’s association OGM and Masalila confirmed there had been hiccups but remained tight lipped on what could have halted the progress for this development.
However it turns out that BAA was not content with how Nike was willing to partner with them. “Initially they proposed to provide attire for only 25 athletes,” sources say, “but athletics leaders were unshaken on their ground and insisted that at least 50 kits be availed per competition more so they are not shared and this delayed the signing of the deal.”
The other factor that put the brakes on the whole process, according to impeccable sources was the monetary benefits for the athletes. Initially it is said the company was willing to reward gold medalists P8 000, P6000 for silver and P3000 for bronze. This money was to be directed to the athletes who are not sponsored by the company. “The leadership has however maintained that at least gold get P10 000, P8000 and P6000 respectively and it appears Nike has agreed on the deal,” a source told this publication. According to Masalila, they will not interfere with the affairs of athletes sponsored by Nike. Nigel Amos and Isaac Makwala who are both sponsored by Nike will have to negotiate for themselves as BAA is only concerned with the ordinary national team runners.
Information turned to this paper suggests that the runners get P15 000, P 10 000 and P 5 000 respectively after competitions, and this is the reason why BAA will not interfere as it is believed the money is reasonable.
Botswana’s performance in the athletics scene is said to be a niche that needs to be explored, and the company is doing exactly that. This according to sources is the main reason why BAA is pulling the strings on the negotiation tables as the multinational company is careful on the talks not to step on the toes of their clients.
Informants continue to say the agreement will not address coaches anyhow and other entourage travelling with the team. “They will only be given attire but in terms of money they will only get allowances from BNSC, this deal is for the athletes.”
The agreement is expected to see the national runners using Nike attire at major competitions like the Olympics, World Championships, and World Cross Country, Commonwealth, and Africa senior championships. When Masalila was pressed as to what the association stands to benefit he said; “we are only concerned with the athletes we will negotiate for ourselves after agreeing with them.” Efforts to understand how long the deal will be proved futile, however sources say it will run for a year since they are testing the waters. There will be an option to further renew the contract.
Amid the confusion surrounding the date of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) elections, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, met with three presidential candidates on Thursday morning to discuss a plethora of problems bedevilling the domestic game.
The candidates are Maclean Letshwiti, the current President, Tebogo Sebego, the firm challenger of the BFA throne, together with Ookeditse Malesu who enters the race for the first time in his sporting career. There were other two unnamed officials who are said to be representatives from the sport ministry.
The Sport minister is said to have adopted a hard-nosed approach to register his disappointment and worry that the uncertainty of the upcoming elections have injured the administration of the local game.
Highly placed sources at the Sport ministry say that the minister’s ‘no gloves barred’ approach comes at the behest of the BFA’s constant negative headlines regarding their leadership style as of going into the elections.
It is said that Rakgare was also worried that the current administration is keeping the other two camps in the dark regarding the planning and processes bordering on election issues. This, he said has led to unnecessary speculations and back biting that is not needed to lift the game at a time when it is on its knees.
He was to rattle a few feathers at one incident when he called all the three leaders of the game to put their houses in order. As if that was not enough, the minister called on the three lobby groups to desist from serving personal interests but put focus on developing the game.
Interestingly, sources point out that the minister was livid but urged both Letshwiti and Sebego groups to refrain from tarnishing the good image of the ministry. This, he said in response to wide ranging allegations that he is taking sides as campaigns are ongoing.
The Sebego group accuses him of de campaigning Sebego and having a soft spot for Team Letshwiti while the same Letshwiti group is saying the same thing about the minister as having taking curious interest in Sebego camp.
The minister is alleged to have told the leaders that if they do not change their leadership style of protecting those looting public funds, his ministry would intervene even if it means attracting the wrath of FIFA, which is known for its notorious sanctions when countries do not toe the line. He urges BFA to be accountable at all the times they will cut the annual subventions that goes to them, sources claim.
This is not for the first time that the BFA was lectured on good governance. At one incident in 2015, former Minster of Sport Thapelo Olopeng dressed down the then Tebogo Sebego leadership regarding good governance.
BFA was at the time closely monitored by the ministry. Instead of the usual transactions that normally go through BFA, national team players received their allowances straight from government in the form of cheques. To demonstrate that government has taken a firm stand against BFA, players’ allowances were no longer routed through the association.
Nobody from the said meeting will address this publication enquiry all indicating that the consultation is never meant for public consumption.
If everything goes according to plan, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) will hold its annual general assembly next month through a virtual conference.
There has been much uncertainty as to how and when the congress will be held seeing as how COVID-19 protocols remain stringent on gatherings.
Sources speaking with this publication say the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the association has agreed to hold the congress within COVID-19 zones, consequently dispelling all the lingering doubts surrounding the life and soul of the assembly.
As it stands, there are nine COVID -19 zones in Botswana. The association is therefore contemplating to rely within four zones where live streaming will take centre stage for the first time in the history of BFA elections.
The congress was first billed for August 8th but was postponed to August 22nd. However, the second date could not see the light of the day as the country recorded a second rise of coronavirus cases that promptly led to greater Gaborone going into yet another lockdown.
The association has been procrastinating over the virtual congress idea with the election agenda remaining a sticky issue. Many advices came flooding that the association is free to make any decision about the congress but should be very careful not to compromise the integrity of the vote.
Sources indicate to this paper that the association is likely to rely on four COVID-19 zones, namely Gaborone, Francistown, Jwaneng and Palapye. The need to plant the meeting on virtual technologies hinges on the fact that the COVID -19 health protocols do not permit people to cross zones to hold meetings.
Information gleaned from various sources is that the association is looking to rely on four zones primarily because of the limited number of personnel under the electoral board. There are five members consisting of this committee and by the look of things; the association will not be allowed to outsource more election overseers at the eleventh hour. Sources argue that the whole cautious exercise is meant to avoid complaints that may arise after elections are held.
The virtual meeting comes after many failed attempts by the association to convince the Kereng Masupu led Task Force to give out a special dispensation. On many occasions, the Task Force refused to allow for the assembly to go on saying “football is not a priority.”
The assembly is expected to be held next month but the exact date still remains a subject of speculation. In the end, Tebogo Sebego will stand again for the second time to unseat Maclean Letshwiti while Ookeditse Malesu is standing for the first time to try and wrestle for BFA power.
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.