The calamity that struck Francistown football in the past two seasons has left the second city with no team in the elite league. Tafic was the first one to bite the dust in 2014, Ecco City Greens followed in the next season; however, Matjimenyenga as Tafic is known have learnt from their bungle two seasons ago and they are plotting a ferocious comeback to the premier league. Mabikani Matjimenyenga.
When Tafic gained promotion to the then super league in 2002, the ecstasy that gripped its fans was as intense as the gloom that overtook them at the end of the 2013-14 season when the team was condemned to the first division. Tafic made history by being the first team from up north to clinch the Coca Cola cup in 2002. But following their demise, the team experienced internal squabbling with Humphrey Nawa and Gilbert Makombo’s factions tearing the team apart.
In the lower division, they started their first season on a low note which saw them at some point occupying the last spot. However the team managed to find the right footing and finished the campaign on 4th position and having missed the premier league play-offs by a whisker. Now the team is gearing up for the new season targeting ‘’straight promotion to the elite league’’.
Tafic which has in the past been regarded as the pride of Francistown as it was the first team to win the FA Cup in 2002 and having produced football legends like Jomo ‘Nobody’ Mosweu, Mmoloki ‘BB’ Sechele and Mlungisi Kopi just to mention but a few intend to bring back smiles to its fans and the city at large. According to the team’s marketing manager Tebogo Toteng, they have learnt from the blunders that led to their relegation to the first division.
“For you to attract sponsorships you should have good governance and this is what we have done, and it was a lesson to our people because they are united and we are committed to one goal.’’ The team’s failure to unite has been blamed for the relegation as sponsors ditched them owing to good governance.
‘Undipe-ndi-kupe’ as the club is fondly called by its legion of fans is planning to retain most of its squad so that there will be continuation in the coming season but they won’t stand in any player’s way. To make their intentions clear, they have already started the pre-season training at Leseding grounds making them the only first division side to do so. This weekend, the team will battle it out with city rivals Ecco city greens in a one day tournament sponsored by Buy & Build in bid to put the team in right shape.
The finances have proven to be one of the factors that led to the downfall of the team and its leadership are working tirelessly to source out funds for the team. The team has started selling new replicas at P175, 00 and will host a dinner at Andasonia hotel to try to boost their wallet. In terms of sponsorship Toteng said “So far we are still running around to get something, even a little sponsorship to help in the administrative part.”
The cautious marketing manager however could not discuss the developing prospects of the return of the Francistown businessman Don Moore and other corporates who are said to be willing to help the team saying he couldn’t comment at the moment.
The Francistown leaders are also mobilising the community to rally behind the team which was formed as a social club compared to Tasc, Ecco and GNT which were institutional teams originally.
The Chairman of Francistown Football Association (FRAFA) Jonas Msomi Ikgopoleng says they have engaged the city big-wigs to help the teams to ensure their entry into the premier league next season. Ikgopoleng added that they will meet with the mayor, Grace Muzila to see how to better help the teams. Asked whether they have identified one team to push to the elite league, he said whichever one that will start the season well will be given full support by the region.
In the general assembly two weeks ago, peace and tranquillity prevailed with supporters coming with suggestions here and there. This has been welcomed by the team and regional leadership as they believe this is what the doctor has ordered for the team.
ECCO ALSO AIM TO BOUNCE BACK
However, Tafic is not the only team fighting for a comeback, city compatriots, Ecco City Greens who were relegated last season are also ploting promotion to the elite league by the end of the season. ‘Mamoja Diskie’ has signed a deal with a local designer Makungupuleswa in bid to avoid spending much with other fancied labels- this in an endeavour to be prudent when it comes to finances as it is the reason why they relegated.
The team mouthpiece, Dingalo Dickson says everything is going accordingly and their mandate is to return to the premier league. Although it is still dry in terms of sponsorships, he remained adamant that they will use everything at their disposal to ensure that they come back; Dingalo added that they don’t want to lose many players “we want to retain a third of our current contingent of players”.
Among the preparations, the team will be holding an elective assembly this weekend to appoint a committee that will steer the team to its destination.
The Francistown region has for long time dominated First Division North and the region says it wants the two teams back in the premier league; however it won’t be easy as there are other teams like Kazungula and Mahalapye Hotspurs who can spoil the party for Francistowners.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) is running without a substantive Technical Director since parting ways with South African native, Serame Letsoaka, who jumped ship midway through his contract in 2019.
This glaring revelation has left the Technical Department of the association hamstrung to fully operate by the book hence a plethora of problems protruding on the very nose of it.
This is the reason it took long for the association to take stern action against Zebras gaffer, Adel Amrouche. His departure was sanctioned at the eleventh hour when players’ patience had long wilted, threatening to leave the camp.
Pundits will therefore observe that it is the absence of a Technical Director that has caused all hell to break loose at Lekidi Football Centre.Since the departure of Letsoaka, the TD position has been more or less vacant as it has been manned by unqualified and somewhat incompetent administrators to date.
The TD position requires a CAF A-License qualification as well as a Diploma in Secondary Education as minimum qualifications. Among the specific duties of TD is; training and development of coaches, including design and updating of coaches manuals, facilitating licensing courses, developing a coaches Code of Conduct, arranging for expert and specialist coaches to deliver training clinics, education on rules of the game and creating and maintaining a library of resources including books, videos and articles for coaches to access.
The responsibility also include establishing and delivering a comprehensive and nationwide Grassroots programme at both the community level, in schools, and in the schools through clubs through strategic partnerships within the communities and with various government ministries and agencies.
TD also advices BFA on all matters related to the effective development of football in Botswana and is accountable for the development of a strategy and policy for the performance of football programmes.
Other duties include working with Youth National teams and coaches through development programmes in order to enable BFA to attain its goals within CAF and FIFA, including putting in place clear systems and processes for identifying and developing talented players.
After Letsoaka left, BFA reached out to Wire Kaelo, a Gaborone United legend currently holding the position of assistant coach at Security System FC, but eventually he was not appointed to the post.
Despite rumours to the effect that BFA had agreed terms with Kaelo to this day, the Association has not come out as to what happened to the alleged marriage.
BFA subsequently appointed one Dr Carolin Braun, on secondment from the German Olympic organisation, a move that left the association rooted in abrasive factionalism.
In particular, local coaches and the general football fanatics have always cried foul claiming that Dr Braun is not fit to hold the position of TD especially in a growing football environment like Botswana.
There is growing concern that Dr Braun does not have the pre-requisite credentials to be appointed for this plum post as she has never held any significant position within the football fraternity, not even at amateur level.
“It was a first in the history of Botswana football to see a TD doubling up as assistant coach to the senior national team and there has been no tangible coaching courses since the departure of Serame Letsoaka and this has been attributable to the vacant position of TD,” a source remarked.
BFA is currently failing to communicate CAF’s decision that the ill-fated CAF “B” and “C” courses held during Serame’s last days were not sanctioned and therefore attendants will not be certificated.
Over 50 local coaches participated in the courses and last year, most of those coaching in the Premier League had to be given waivers by the BFA Technical Committee before they could be accredited.
CAF has since indicated that the issue of waivers by national associations will not be entertained, something which might throw local games into disarray.BFA is still failing to come up with a coaching philosophy despite Serame having started groundwork before his departure.
Other countries such as Zambia have since resumed CAF coaching courses whilst in Botswana is still business as usual despite the impending challenges caused by indiscretion and lack of foresight.
Despite BFA having advertised the position of TD and subsequently holding interviews where recommendations were done by the Technical and Development Committee, the BFA NEC has refused to endorse the recommendation for reasons only best known to them.
Yet, there is a lingering fact that the NEC is clueless when it comes to technical matters. There is not even a single individual in the NEC who holds any coaching qualification including the Chairman of the member responsible for technical and development matters, Masego Ntshingane.
When asked about the position of the TD, Ntshingane said the association is well aware of the matter and will son fill the post. “Yes, it is true the association has not appointed a TD after Letsoaka’s departure, but we are working around the clock to hire capable people,” he said.
However, local coaches believe that it’s a travesty of justice to expect non-technical people to make meaningful contributions on technical matters to the extent that they can veto recommendations from a committee of renowned technical experts.
It is not business as usual in the operations manual of African football. Ever since the ascendency of Dr. Patrice Motsepe to the CAF plum post, the African football governing body is ringing changes to satisfy the demands and governance standards of the modern game.
However, it appears that what is coming out from the high offices of the game is a bitter pill to swallow for local clubs, some of which are touted to be the best in the land.
Connectedly, CAF has issued a circular to the effect that only coaches holding the CAF “A” education license will be permitted to sit on the technical dugout during the upcoming inter club competitions. This communication has been sent to all 54 CAF member associations in May 2021.
However, it seems local clubs have not been appraised on this development even though both Jwaneng Galaxy and Orapa United have shown desire to represent the country in the CAF competitions.
It comes to the fore now that the two clubs can successfully represent the country if they engage coaches with the pre-requisite qualifications which is now an insurmountable task due to the COVID-19 impact on club finances.
Both clubs have hired coaches who attended the ill-fated BFA conducted CAF “B” and “A” coaching courses which were held in Lobatse almost two years ago.
To date the coaches await the completion of the courses and certificates while CAF has made it clear that the courses were not sanctioned as they were held during the era that coaching licenses were suspended, a situation that BFA was well aware of and has since accepted the consequences.
The BFA is still at sixes and sevens on how to break the issue to the affected coaches as it is likely to cause a huge public embarrassment and backlash from the coaching fraternity.
“We all know about the problem, BFA is promising to come to the bottom of the matter as we continue to engage them,” says Botswana Football Coaches Association (BFCA) interim President, Daniel Nare.
CAF has also made it clear that this time there will be no waiver for coaches without the pre-requisite qualification because the Confederation has been too lenient in the past. During the last CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup, both Galaxy and Orapa United coaches were given a reprieve by CAF Technical Department as they did not even have the CAF “B” license.
When approached for clarity, the Spokesperson for Galaxy, Tankiso Morake said they are playing a waiting game when it comes to CAF issues especially that BFA is yet to reply to their letter. “Honestly, there is nothing concrete I can share because no one is certain about anything. We are waiting to be replied by the association so that we can finalize everything,” he said.
While United was not available for comment, it is clear that both clubs will need to hire coaches with the needed qualifications otherwise playing in this year’s edition of African football mirrors a tomorrow that may never come.
A recent study shows that Township Rollers is not only popular within the perimeters of Botswana, but has also made significant steps within the digital football platforms in Africa.
Out of the 70 African football clubs ranked on the African football digital benchmark, Township Rollers comes on the 35th position backed by a massive social media following. The club website records more than 399 000 followers and is seen as the most interactive in the local game.
This is consistent with the recent study conducted by FIFA- world football governing body- that Rollers is the only team locally that makes use of its digital platforms.
Notably, it comes out that the gap between Township Rollers and the rest of the 15 Premier League clubs is abysmal, this therefore works against creating a strong BPL brand value.
Rollers is the only club with more than 50 000 followers on Facebook, more than 20 000 followers on Twitter while its Instagram platform stands strong at 27 800 followers.
However, it is found out that much of the BPL brand value is killed by some social Facebook football fan accounts. They have stood long and have thus attracted more followers than the official accounts. Pages like Killers Pass and Botswana Football have consequently seen more than 100 000 following. Both of the accounts give 24 hour on-going updates of football’s latest news, transfers, results, video and live updates.
FIFA has therefore come to a conclusion that the two social media pages have grown interactive since they incite followers to answer and present their impressions about local football.
It comes into the open that 70 percent of domestic premier league clubs do not have official websites. This according to FIFA, kills the brand and visibility of clubs hence failure to attract lucrative sponsors by the clubs. FIFA also found out that the remaining 30 percent of clubs with websites are lacklustre and found wanting when it comes to their online presence. But in this regard, Rollers is on pole position.