The interesting ring spectacle of who will own the Botswana Football Association’s (BFA) Lekidi office keys which has pitted three factions baying for each other’s blood has uncovered two centers of power sponsoring the tussle.
Information turned to this publication shows forces behind the scenes as the flammable potent for the battle which is expected to end in July.
Both Township Rollers financier, Jag Dish Shah and his Gaborone United rival, Nicholas Zakhem are reportedly the masterminds of the current campaigns of the two main factions seeking to rule football.
However, those in the know argue that the stepping of the two football gurus in the football politics is a clear sign that they have interest in the sport. “They want to control the football leaders who will assume power, and this is not healthy for our ailing football,” those anti the developments assert.
Shah, who has been involved in a series of power struggles reaching the courts of law on numerous occasions with Rollers, is said to be sharing the same plate with the incumbent President Tebogo Sebego’s team which is yet to be fully paraded. Informants say the millionaire is a devoted follower of Sebego and has interest in Sebego’s 2012 campaign catchphrase of ‘commercialization’.
Sebego was at one point accused of meddling in the internal affairs of Rollers at a time when David Mmui and company were fighting bitterly to wrestle the team from the ‘investor’. This is said to have strengthened the relationship between the two as Shah “saw that this (Sebego) is the man we can share a shade”, simply because Sebego pleaded with the supporters to give the team to a man who can steer the team to the Promised Land of milk and honey.
On the other hand, reports say, Nicholas Zakhem is likely to sponsor the other aspiring team led by the veteran administrator Segolame Ramothwa. The team which comprises of the persistent Ramothwa, Leviet Ntwaagae, Lenao Lenao and Chippa Mahloane, is optimistic that just like friends of football did in 2012 with David Fani, they too can white wash the Sebego team.
As part of his grand plan to take the reins, the Ramothwa team is said to have recruited the same players in Sebego’s 2012 office winning squad. Ramothwa and Mahloane were the men who planted the ‘friends of football’ success through their irresistible lobbying. Zakhem who entered the ring at the opposite corner could be battling a fight for ‘recognition and power’.
“Ever since the arrival of Shah, Zakhem has been sidelined and he feels out of place and as a result he wants to resuscitate his reputation as he is the one who initiated football “commercialization”. It is said he tried to win Sebego over when he offered the national team some incentives but Sebego proved to be unshaken in his allegiance to his ‘friend’.
The other team that is still under construction is that which could comprise of Marshlow Motlogelwa, Billy Sekgororoane, Senki Sesinyi and Eatametse Olopeng.
However with the two business moguls in the ring, an interesting power tussle is on the cards.
POSITIVES FOR FOOTBALL
Just like in South Africa where two centers of power being Irvin Khoza and Bobby Motaung are pulling the strings at PSL the same is expected here. Whichever team wins the elections is expected, sources say, to pay it back to football, which is in dire need of the money. Those who embrace these battles argue that with the presence of corporate people the financial doldrums in football will be a thing of the past. “They know people who could help football and that will be a welcome development because sponsoring is banked on trust and their business connection is what we want.
We want FA Cup and these people have relations with companies that can sponsor us so it is very important for them to be close,” a prominent football administrator told this paper. In South Africa the duo of Khoza and Motaung despite their business wars, have transformed the PSL making it one of the top ten leagues in the world by bringing in sponsors.
Local sprinter, Letsile Tebogo has been rewarded with a whopping P150 000.00 by Orange Botswana for his heroics at the recently held World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Speaking at a Handover Ceremony for Tebogo, Orange Botswana Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Maano Masisi said, Orange Botswana is steadfast in their commitment to nurturing the youth and promoting sports in diverse ways.
“Letsile stands as a formidable force and an inspiration to young Batswana, showcasing the value of sports not only in Botswana but on an international stage through his remarkable achievements. Orange Botswana, furthermore, desires to cultivate enduring relationships with aspiring young Batswana, much like Letsile, who embody dedication, focus, and excellence in their endeavors. Letsile has already shattered records, etching new milestones for the African continent and beyond,”
Masisi further said the partnership aligns seamlessly with Orange Botswana’s dedication to acknowledging exceptional individual talent like Tebogo.
“As previously announced when we started this relationship, our collaboration with yourself entails financial support from Orange Botswana to fuel your journey in competitive sports, alongside your representation as the face of Orange Botswana,” he said.
For his part, Tebogo pleaded with Orange Botswana to extend his contract as it is beneficial to him, “I am thankful to Orange Botswana and I hope they could extent my contract as it has been very helpful.”
Meanwhile, Tebogo’s coach, Kebonyemodisa ‘Dose’ Mosimanyana was also showered with P10 000.00 for always ensuring that Tebogo is ready to take on the world.
Local athletes, Zibane Ngozi and Letsile Tebogo have confronted Minister of Youth, Gender and Culture, Tumiso Rakgare citing lack of support during preparations.
Speaking at the World Champs team Welcome Ceremony on Wednesday, the 4 x 400m relay specialist and Team Captain, Ngozi urged some of the government officials inclusive of Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) representative, Rakgare to attend these high-profile competitions to witness the hardships they go through during these competitions.
“People need to understand it is not easy for us when we arrive at the World stage, there is a lot that is going on hence we need support in order for us to succeed as expected.
However, I am happy that immediately when I arrived in Botswana, BNSC credited our allowances which was a good thing because we had lots of debts (jokingly) thus we manage to settle them,” he said.
On the other hand, Tebogo who brought home two medals (silver and bronze) from 100m and 200m respectively at the World Champs said most athletes are going through depression due unfavorable conditions.
“Most of us going through depression because we lack support during preparations, we are only celebrated when we win but in hard times we are forgotten. Athletics is a difficult sport hence we need all the support we could to make it through and eventually amass medals as it is expected by our country,”
For his part, Rakgare admitted that local sport is faced with challenges, including but not limited to a tough sponsorship environment, limited or no sport in public schools, doping and leadership instability.
“I would of course be surprised if anyone of you would not agree with me that notwithstanding the challenges, we continue to achieve unprecedented results in sport, and the year to date is no exception,” he said.
Rakgare gave special recognition to Oratile Rose Nowe for heroics at the World Champs, “I would like to take this opportunity and congratulate Nowe for attaining a new personal best 2:01.62 in Women’s 800m, which also happens to be a national record. By the way, Oratile is the first Motswana woman to ever qualify for the World Championships in middle distance running.”
According to Rakgare, Government, recognizes athletes’ achievements at any and every competition, and that is why most recently, they have rewarded them at the Youth and Sport Awards.
“I would like to thank the Government of Botswana for their investment in sport. We continue to pride ourselves in being one of the best funders of sport per capita, and as indicated earlier, we are not intending to slow down anytime soon,”
On a lighter note, World Champs BW Team was rewarded by various companies such as Debswana, Choppies, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) and also government as a token of appreciation for participating in Hungary.
Tebogo was rewarded with P560 000 from Debswana, Choppies and BPC for bringing two medals home, 4 x 400m men relay finalists (Ngozi, Baboloki Thebe, Laone Ditshetelo and Leungo were given P25 000 apiece for reaching the finals and participating by Debswana; while ladies (Tlhomphang Basele, Golekanye Chikani, Lydia Jele, Oratile Nowe, Galefele Moroko, Obakeng Kamberuka were given P10 000 each for participation.
In addition, the World Champs team amassed P926 000.00 of which P250 000 would go to Tebogo and the remaining P676 000 will be shared amongst the rest of the team.
With several local associations currently going through a rough patch in terms of financial quagmires, Botswana Netball Association (BONA) Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mokeresete Mokeresete is optimistic to host the 2023 Africa Netball Cup as per the request from African Netball Board (Executive Committee) because Uganda has pulled out.
Will it be successful or finally quench the thirst of competing internationally?
The African Netball Championships or Africa Netball Cup are a netball competition held every after two years with teams from across Africa competing for the top price.
BONA National team competed in the last edition of the Africa Netball Cup which was held in 2021 in Namibia and they finished in position seven which was average.
Last time BONA hosted an event of this magnitude was the 2017 Netball Youth World Cup which was indeed a success even though the local team (Dinaletsana) finished in position 10.
One would have thought that the Dinaletsana team which looked promising would eventually go on and conquer the world in the following international competitions. However, that has not been the case as they struggled to qualify for the recent World Cup which was held in the neighboring South Africa.
In addition, the Botswana Netball League was last played in November 2022 and in 2023 they hosted a Fast Five Netball Cup just before the Netball World Cup.
In an interview with WeekendSport this week, BONA Public Relations Officer (PRO) said they have accepted to host the 2023 Africa Netball Cup following the pulling out of Uganda.
“We have recently accepted a request to the 2023 Africa Netball Cup, however – we are still working on finalizing all the logistics that will be in play as you are aware that hosting an event requires a budget which might be difficult because we were given a smaller potion in the recent financial year.
Furthermore, we are yet to come up with a consolidated budget which could help us map a way forward as we really want to stage this particular competition. It is vital for us to host this competition as we want to revitalize local netball, we want to attract more for the league,” said Mokeresete Mokeresete.
MORE NETBALL ACTION AHEAD?
Mokeresete further hinted that the upcoming Independence Cup will be preparatory tournament for the upcoming Africa Netball Cup.
“We are going to host the Independence Cup of which we are expected at least 16 ladies’ teams and a few of male’ teams as we are still swiftly introducing the male section to the sport in Orapa.
However, prior to the action we are going conduct courses for match officials, technical official and coaches’ beginners’ level 1 courses as an effort of improve the standards of the sporting code,” hinted Mokeresete.
MISSING THE RECENT NETBALL WORLD CUP WAS CATASTROPHIC
According to BONA PRO, missing the recent Netball World Cup was catastrophic as players missed out on an opportunity to showcase their talents on the world stage which was bound to garner those deals to more professional countries in terms of Netball.
“We are seeing lots of movement for players from countries like Zimbabwe which is remarkable and that could have happened for our player – but it wasn’t to be as we did not qualify for the main event.
Moreover, through the World Cup Legacy Program, we have been awarded a sprung board and we are contention to transport it from South Africa to the country as one of the requirements to host a sporting event is to have a sprung floor,”
Meanwhile, the 2023 Africa Netball Cup is scheduled between November 26 – October 06 2023 at University of Botswana (UB) Indoor Sports Arena.