The marathon negotiations between Botswana Football Association (BFA) and the mining giant, Debswana, over the renewal of First Division sponsorship is shrouded with controversies and uncertainties which could jeopardize the envisaged back love.
While the BFA President Tebogo Sebego is an optimistic man who believes that the couple will resolve their matters amicably before going to bed, others paint a contradicting picture. Dogs and enemies that include the sponsorship beneficiaries are barking with passion at the boardrooms praying that the sponsorship fails. In fact, it appears they are playing a game of proving “who is a failure” as they contend that Sebego is day dreaming and too ambitious for the deal.
The sponsorship has been marred by controversies with the league (First division) custodians decrying that BFA was remote controlling everything. This caused contractual breach and skeptics believe that it will be the determining factor on whether the company returns as sponsor or the hunt for a new partner starts for the league.
“We have displayed a true spirit of amateurism in the handling of the deal,” first division chairman Eatametse Olopeng told Weekendsport early this year, further adding that, “I am pessimistic of the new deal.” Sebego in another interview also conceded, “These are lessons, and we will rectify them.”
The utterances by the league chair and other negative media reports on how the deal went down are said to be factors slowing down the whole process. When putting pen to paper in 2013, Debswana was hopeful they will gain mileage as they predicted and viewed football as a tool used by many and can safely do their marketing wonders but in vain. Again, failure by the BFA to assemble a sponsorship management committee is another factor said to be rubbing the sponsors the wrong way, hence their cosmetic approach to the talks. They are said to be dilly-dallying, despite having received the proposal documents two months back.
All these are not detracting Sebego who is confident that they blew the minds of the company’s top hierarchy with their Microsoft presentation. “It has been going through other processes that are yet to be finalized but I’m just optimistic that the negotiations be concluded before the beginning of next season.” He further added that the company conducted Impact Assessment to evaluate how their first try transpired. Asked whether the new deal will address the past complaints of the sponsor, Sebego said “I don’t want to divulge more information because those are contractual details.”
Those that believe Debswana’s return to the first division is a farfetched dream, however argue that “when the company signed a deal in 2013 they did not have much financial responsibilities like how the current situation is; currently they have two teams in the elite league (Orapa United& Jwaneng Galaxy) so they will have to take their time and carefully think about it.” They continue to say, “Just like it has been said, BFA has failed to honor the contractual agreement of the deal and brings a gloomy picture on the prospects of the renewed deal.”
As the negotiation series continue, Olopeng who is the chair of the First Division is a clueless man on how the talks are going. “As it stands I am oblivious on how things are going, we were told by CEO (Kitso Kemoen) that he will update us in the NEC meeting and until then we are still waiting,” he added, “but our wish was to be in the negotiation room so we can share our challenges because if we not involved people (Debswana) would be mislead.”
Sebego however has said there will be a time for them to be involved, “I think there will be time for them to enter the boardroom, as of now it is still at high level and we should at least agree something in principle then we can involve them on how the deal should be administered.”
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.
There is a possibility of discomfort within the Gaborone United technical team following a squabble between former team manager Owe Mmolawa and Peter Butler who is Director of Football over allegations of racial discrimination.
The duo is reported to have had a fall out last month on the flight from Madagascar after Gaborone United sealed a 3-1 win against Elgeco Plus to set a clash with Dstv premiership side, Supersport United in the second round of the preliminary stages of CAF Confederation Cup.
However, WeekendSport was reliably informed that the management of the club swiftly redeployed Mmolawa to become ladies team manager, a position which he rejected and ultimately resigned from the club on the 31st August. Sources claim that the relationship between Butler and Mmolawa had broken down irreparably.
According to the highly placed sources, since the arrival of the British coach at Moyagoleele, Mmolawa was sidelined and it is alleged that Butler started to give him (Mmolawa) an attitude. Others speculate that the master plan is get rid of Coach Pontsho Moloi so that Butler gets the head coach post.
According to a letter seen by this publication – Mmolawa wrote to the Regional Immigration Selection board on the 5th September contesting or seeking an interdict on awarding a substantive residential and work permit to Mr. Peter Butler.
According to the former Gaborone United team manager, “As per the Immigration Act, in particular, Section 19, Clause 4(a), the character of Mr. Butler lacks the rudimentary qualification on the basis of racial discrimination allegations levelled against him. The allegations have been reported to the continental football mother body (CAF) for investigation and determination thereof. The complaint has been lodged by me.”
Mmolawa further said although Butler who is employed as Director of Football of which the qualification requirements for the job include amongst others possession of a CAF A coaching certificate – there is a plethora of local who holds the same qualification.
The fundamental uptake of foreign nationals for employment is that it should be on account of scarce skills or justification for the same.
He therefore said he contended strongly that the application for work permit be declined for Mr. Butler as there are many Batswana who have graduated with CAF A coaching certificate and fit enough to be considered for employment.
“Awarding work and residential permits to Mr. Butler on the basis of this job would be a fatal blow to the efforts of Botswana government in empowering its own citizens, in my solemn view. I raise that Mr.
Butler is prone and has a history of attacking the sovereignty of Botswana as evidenced by his spell away from the country when the football fraternity encountered governance changes. It would be tantamount to fiddling whilst Rome burns to look the away when a man of this character that lacks patriotic fabric seeks employment in Botswana,” reads part of the letter addressed to Secretary of regional Immigration Selection Board.
When reached for a comment relating to racial discrimination levelled by Owe Mmolawa to Mr. Butler, Gaborone United Marketing Manager Herbert Letsebe said as the club they currently don’t have any case bordering on racial discrimination. He said they have only seen social media posts by Owe Mmolawa.
“We as the club do not condone racial discrimination and if we record such case, serious action shall be taken for the offence,” he added.
Letsebe further said allegations between Owe Mmolawa and Butler could be personal hence it’s between the duo. He however confirmed that there was some altercation between the two, when the team was travelling from Madagascar to Botswana.