When President Tebogo Sebego came to the structures of the football association roughly 12 years ago, it was never clear that he will one day yearn for football power and strive to control the game in a similar fashion deployed by long time bogus leaders of FIFA and CAF, MOSIMANEGAPE TSHOSWANE writes
It was a sudden depth of the sport life blended with a football conspiracy that was marked by a full four year reign of basking in the local acclaim of his success and failures that helped in molding both a new and unrecognizable BFA house. Observers put it that Sebego gained popularity at the time everyone close to the game was fed up with former president David Fani‘s style of leadership. He, therefore, seized the opportunity and campaigned vigorously under the ‘friends of football’ banner to white wash Fani whose camp was crippled from every angle in the cold July of 2012.
Sebego, a lawyer by profession won country wide adoration and his ascendency to the BFA plum post hung on a two-fold victory mood. First, his flambouyance and charm convinced doubting Thomases he was the right man to refresh the then decaying association, and secondly, he master minded the fall of a man who had the backing of football god fathers.
Prior to the 2012 election, It was an open secret that David Fani was handpicked by Ishmael Bhamjee as a way of protecting and extending his BFA legacy while he needed to go up in FIFA positions. Observers point out that in 2000 when Fani took the baton, it became rather clear that he was a ‘feed boy’ of both Bhamjee and Ashford Mamelodi. True to their closeness, the umbilical cord remained intact that Fani finally won a position within CAF in 2011.
With Sebego, it is however, unknown whether he would like the next president to be a candidate who carries his blessing so as to preserve his legacy. But for now, he still prefers his.
Sebego and his energetic troops upon resuming office promised to clean Lekidi football center. Their hopes of taking the association to a reform phase were high as a kite. However, during his first two years (2012-2014), Sebego and his mentors’ hopes began dashing.
In the second year of his presidency, the mood within BFA began to shift as the team was hit with a back lash for taking decisions without consultation. When the matter first cropped up, Sebego gave it an eye wash and it gradually ballooned up when friends of football god fathers split over his resolve to transform the game.
Under his leadership, the association toiled to appoint British born Keith Masters as the Chief Executive Officer. But that was after a raging fire scorched across his National Executive Committee (NEC) over his decision to elevate one Tariq Babitseng to the position of CEO. Observers were convinced that it was a simple way of thanking him for forcefully canvassing massive support for him to dethrone David Fani.
The appointment of Tariq- whose contradictory attributes excite and irk the football fraternity in equal measure- was always with controversy and of course ruffled a few feathers.
But what raised eye brows and continued to draw burning criticism was the arrival of the ageing Keith Masters as the head of secretariat. His voice was never audible in the stubborn NEC, His leadership style was questionable and his admiration of power never influenced anybody until his sacking early last year.
To demonstrate his ambition for power, Sebego also acknowledged one Ernest Nthobelang to create a position of Chief Operation Officer. But when the team’s ship cruised, everything else revolved around Sebego and when the ship finally hit an iceberg, all hell broke loose.
The foot soldiers who were instrumental in bringing Sebego into power all attracted controversy. Nthobelang, who held the fort in BFA technical wing, was expelled for reading a different script when the team needed to thrive when dark clouds were gathering.
That Sebego‘s silent diplomacy is his best ingredient is purely not in doubt. He remained quiet as factions within the association burned. Bruising affairs within the association were seen all over, spilling all the way down to the secretariat.
Sebego and his feed boy Tariq Babitseng‘s relationship hit the rocks once, but when the post of Vice President- Administration emerged, they teamed again. This was after one Segolame Ramotlhwa, (who was earmarked for the presidency before Sebego) broke affiliation with friends of football and challenged Tariq to the position. In- fact, this was the beginning of the regime’s factions.
In Ramotlhwa’s eye, Babitseng should have not campaigned because he was accused of having his fingers all over the till while holding the post of CEO. For the first time, the two members from the same regime stood against each other and it was not surprising that Babitseng strolled to victory while Ramotlhwa was left licking his wounds. “My history should not determine my destination, what happened while I held the post of CEO should be water under the bridge,’’ Babitseng had said after the victory.
All the while, Sebego’s support got dented and later diminished as his backers literally betrayed him. However, he knew his term was far from ending, but because he had unknowingly rooted out some of his troops, it was almost impossible for him to save the BFA ship from sinking under his watch. He became a turncoat when he somersaulted on his decision not to stand for CAF committees.
He found himself having to deal with difficult questions when his fire-brand Babitseng was again- accused of office abuse and mal-administration. When Babitseng was finally labeled the black sheep of BFA, Sebego too, took the bullet. He found himself caught between a rock and a hard place when the time came to sack him. Friends of football hit rock bottom.
Sebego’s heart bled profusely but he remained steadfast in his mission to battle and capture the soul of the association, much to the amusement of those who were by his side.
But it proved to take a toll on his attempts.
A new mood of militancy swept across his NEC again when he battled to submit a bid to co-host AFCON 2017 with Zimbabwe. He had to answer more piercing questions mainly for surrounding himself with Babitseng while Masters was used as pawn in a tactful chess game. The attempt to co-host was finally shot down and at the time, the president and his legal advisor, Doctor Pusoentse were two worlds apart.
The infighting heightened. The Briton CEO was soon in the eye of the storm until he fell from BFA’s radar. Observers had highlighted that the CEO was Sebego’s moral voice, and his fall from grace would eventually cripple the president’s support within the NEC. At that time, Tariq was nowhere to be seen while the arrival of a new broom, Marshlow Motlogelwa was seen to be the beginning of a reform process. Motlogelwa, who came to the NEC under the Vice President-finance and marketing ticket, received unending showers particularly that he is believed to have master minded the fall of Sebego’s blue eyed boy- Tariq Babitseng.
As Sebego’s house endured a dizzying fall from grace, the time to recruit a new CEO arrived. Three names were submitted, and reports suggested that the president wanted to opt for more names insisting that the three front runners were not the right cut for the job. Of the three names, former BNSC boss Kitso Kemoeng was attractive.
His lieutenants, Marshlow Motlogelwa and Stephen Phetlhe-Vice President technical convinced him to settle for Kemoeng while he frowned upon the decision, he later embraced him when he got the position.
In essence, the newly recruited CEO was soon to fill Babitseng’s space in molding the ailing association. Together they became the heart-beat of the NEC. But soon, just as they were enjoying their new working relationship, the monster of consultation reared its head. The file and rank members of NEC who had a fall out with him grilled him for treating Kemoeng with kids’ gloves. Many of them felt Sebego had temporarily found comfort within Kemoeng‘s shrewd way of leadership.
The members regrouped and were about to send Kemoeng packing until a “technical error” saved him the job. He was initially given a three months probation but somehow it later turned out that it was a six months trial out. “As far as I am concerned, I am contracted to BFA and that issue is not relevant,’’ Kemoeng had pointed out at the time.
That Kemoeng would soon become Sebego’s shield was not in doubt. The former sports council boss began a restructuring exercise that left people bruised. While appointment of new faces and uninformed expulsion of old BFA cadres tormented the association, Sebego saw it all as unfinished business.
Observers say that he is seeking another term mainly to solidify his power at CAF. Whether he still remembers the promises uttered under Friends of Football manifesto are open to debate is unknown. One promise was to save the game from going to the dogs. As to why the objective of finding FA cup is not yet achieved after four long hard years might be a football terrain hard to maneuver. “I am working to improve the game, those who see my track record will talk positive, and those who do not see it will say otherwise,’’ Sebego professed.
The road to 2016 elections is still under construction. A couple of foot-soldiers-drawing inspiration from Friends of Football gurus-want to take him head on. Of the few names penciled out is Ramotlhwa’s who sees this as a perfect opportunity tackle a man who he worked with in crafting todays’ BFA constitution.
It will prove to be a titanic battle for football power. Fresh reports suggest that Sebego has once again turned to Babitseng to defend the regime.
A study conducted by the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA), has revealed that a turnaround strategy is needed to make an elite league body, Botswana Premier League (BPL), a profitable entity.
The study piloted in June and completed in December of last year, depicts a picture of possible improvement where a total of 16 premier league clubs were examined and studied on how they conduct their football related businesses.
It comes out that 54% of premier league club revenue streams are from general sponsorship while a paltry 2% is generated from gate takings. A further 11% of profit is from broadcasting rights and that remains abnormal in a game that should be well known to be propelled by rich television agreement worldwide.
Moreover, BDF XI, Gilport Lions, Extension Gunners, Miscellaneous, Morupule Wanderers , BR Highlanders, Police XI and Prisons XI have all demonstrated a heavy reliance and dependence on sponsors, prices and monthly grants, while the quartet of Jwaneng Galaxy, Orapa United, Township Rollers and Gaborone United have all managed to source revenue streams outside the common and well known sponsor outlets.
Of all the 16 premier league clubs, Jwaneng Galaxy emerges as the top club that is able to attract moneyed sponsors. The study shows that the Jwaneng outfit rakes about P 5 million in sponsorship revenues, followed by their ‘rival brothers’ Orapa United who receive an approximation of P 3 million per football season.
The two clubs are at the fore front because of the footsteps and presence of Debswana in their leadership radar.Coming third is Security Systems whose purse get around P 2.5M from the parent company, GU is on fourth spot at around P 1.5M. Township Rollers is on a distant fifth position with about P 1M per season of individual sponsorship.
The rest of the clubs receive services in kind such as accommodation, playing kits, training kits, fuel and water and soft drinks. This further underlines the struggle to make profit as footballing team in the elite league, the study highlights.
However, from the report, it emerges that only Township Rollers has the capacity to make profit from a good football season. Much of the club revenues are from the sale of its replica jerseys. The club as powered by Jagdish Shah sells about 3000 replicas at a value of P 350 000.It is the only club that sells merchandise from sport chain stores (Studio 88) and according to the report, it is a reliable indicator that shows fans engagement level with the club.
While it emerges from this study that ticketing revenue has a low weight on club’s revenues varying from 2-9% depending on the club, Rollers again is the only club making profit from this front.
But to further underscore the issue of lack of business sense in the elite league, it comes to the fore that there is low fan attendance per home game and this is the major cause of low ticketing revenue.
Gunners however top the table, averaging a total of 5000 supporters per game. Gunners is followed by Rollers at 4000 followers while Miscellaneous comes third with 1700 fans per home game. On average, it shows that 75% of clubs have a fan base while the remaining 25% have absolute nothing.
The report further indicates that many of Botswana’s elite clubs are experiencing financial difficulties because of the model of ownership. “Clubs legal entity form is not homogenous and 25% of them are owned by the government,” the report shows.
The report therefore recommends that clubs should standardized ownership models as this will lose dependency on government.“Furthermore, legal conditions will be the same for all clubs and transparency of the BPL will be enhanced,” the report curtailed.
However, BFA says it knows nothing about the report but one member of the executive committee says the association is addressing all problems bedevilling Botswana’s game.
The member is adamant that all administrative loopholes of the game will be resolved and it is why FIFA project time for change is still on going at regional level.
8 – Numbers of clubs that make financial losses 4 – Clubs do not depend on gate takings 1 – club is self-sustaining
Nikola Kavazovic, Township Rollers’ pragmatic Head Coach, is said to have scuppered a move that was to see Botswana international Magokolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele joining the club in this football calendar.
Instead, the player proceeded to join Limpopo province based outfit, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila F.C. carrying a long face.
It is reported that Shah, the club’s investor, had wanted to sign the left footed midfielder to bolster an attacking front but Kavazovic flatly refused to sanction the move, adding that his squad is solid and strong even without Tsotso Ngele.
According to reports, Ngele was to be offered a contract with a salary scale of P 40 000. Shah believed, and still holds the same view, that Ngele’s name is a powerhouse that was to further market the team and increase its brand awareness in Botswana’s business community.
However, Kavazovic is said to have told some members of the technical team that it is always difficult to coach and manage players who are favoured by Shah.
Ngele is reported to be nostalgic and would want to play for a home team in the stature of Rollers. As things stand, he is not enjoying his stay at Thohoyandou and it explains why his appearances at the club are an oddity.
Ngele had a successful season with Roller in 2012 where he won the Mascom Top 8 Cup under Mike Sithole. He was expected to be guided by Kavazovic to help mount a serious challenge for this year’s silver ware.
Rollers on its own have reshuffled their attacking options over a period of time, losing darling striker Joel Mogorosi to Gaborone United while another robust striker Teenage Orebonye was poached by clubs abroad.
Before the arrival of Kavazovic, Rollers’ technical team bitterly complained last season about the lack of productivity from their attackers but they hoped that the ever-consistent Edwin Moalosi and Ngele, aided perhaps by Segolame who remains in the books, can fire an upturn.
All the while, it is said Ngele will still force his move to Popa and there is hope that his personality and experience will eventually serve to inspire the rest of the attacking options, most notably the younger players like Kago Monyake.
Rollers have always sought to have leaders in their squad, players who have won big games and can bolster the collective belief. Their signing of Mogorosi few seasons ago was rooted, in part, by what he could bring away from the field.
Rollers still wish that Ngele could cut his stay and further negotiate with Kavazovic to sign the player and bring a country wide spread inspiration and determination he possessed after carrying the club to its inaugural top 8 edition in 2012.
That year he won the golden boot playing as a second striker. When he left Rollers, we went straight to command a starting line up with Platinum Stars. A year later, he won the Telkom knockout player of the tournament.
Some members within Rollers fold argue that Shah knew right from the start that he was not going to be able to control Kavazovic and his wishes of signing Tsotso might as well disappear on the furthest horizon.
Remnant of the historic Africa Cup of Nations squad of 2012, Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele and Botswana’s first-choice goal keeper, Kabelo Dambe, will never embody the future of the Zebras as long as Adel Amrouche is at the helm, WeekendSport has established.
The duo made this confession in the squad secret WhatsApp group seen by this publication, expressing concern and antipathy about playing for the squad heavily polarised by the coach.
It turns out that the coach has players he favours and prefers, many of who appear in the starting line-up as a long lasting promise to be signed under his stable. The aim is to ultimately recruit them to far flung clubs and earn a commission.
Ngele who remains the only player to have scored the Zebras goal (in open play) at the 2012 edition has endured a rocky affair with the coach.
Not much has been established as to why the affair is in tatters but sources claim that it stretched to a point where Amrouche confronted Ngele’s former coaches at Black Leopards to discuss possible options of side-lining him. The idea was to frustrate the player and kill his confidence as the only player Zebras looked up to.
Ngele, under former coach Peter Butler, was named the squad captain but under Amrouche, he has played cameo roles in World Cup and AFCON qualifiers. Ngele has made three appearances and came once as a substitute in all the 10 games Amrouche managed.
Ngele was hoping for his own great leap forward in an effort to end his nightmare and play for the Zebras especially after earning playing time with his new club, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila.
Do this day, Ngele has made more than 35 appearances for the Zebras since earning his debut in 2009. Away from The Zebras stage, Ngele made significant contributions at Platinum Stars, the first team he signed his professional contract with. In 67 games, he scored 19 times.
Amrouche’s insistency and promise to make a loud impact in this year’s qualifiers did not bear fruit. Part of the blame is shoved on Township Rollers stopper, Kabelo Dambe. He is accused to have failed to stand strong for Zebras and shipped in simpler goals that cost the team to book a flight to Cameroon next year.
A goal against Algeria on home soil and a goal by Zimbabwe last month could have never gone through had he positioned himself better, critics claim.
Dambe who has more than 44 caps and played all Zebras games under Amrouche feels hard done and had hoped the coach and the nation would protect him. He feels the ambition of the country to qualify mirrors a tomorrow that could never come because of his mistakes.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) General Manager of National Teams, Monnakgotla Mojaki when pressed for interview failed to provide details about the future of the two stars.
He expressed concern that he was never hands on when the squad played the qualifiers. This according to Mojaki, was the case because the coach had barred him from mingling with the players.
“I am sorry I cannot assist you with anything, I know nothing and remember I have not spoken to anybody since I was asked not to come to camp,” he shared.
Both Dambe and Ngele are not only equally unhappy but are also equal in age; both are 30 years and have played for Platinum Stars at one point in their careers.
However, there is information to the effect that the duo made a promise to return one day, and that is when the coach has parted company with the association.