Harassed Maun based premier league rookies, Sankoyo Bush Bucks are reeling from internal shock, as head coach, Philani Mabhena ditched them for suspected greener pastures.
The team has been recently surrounded with much controversy, owing to their relegation chronicles. The premier league board had declared them relegated, but the Botswana Football Federation overturned that decision earlier this month.
Mabhena tendered his resignation, effective immediately just when things were starting to normalize at the club. The club management has further revealed fears that the players too could follow the coach, in pursuit of greener pastures.
“Our head coach has made it known to us that he is leaving before the season ended. Even if we could, we cannot stop him from doing what’s best for him. We also noticed during the second round of the league that we might lose some of our players when the transfer window opens,” revealed the Club’s Manager Odirile Sibanda in an interview with Weekend Sports.
Bush Bucks management failed to secure a financial sponsor and struggled throughout the league to maintain and manage the club financially. Although Sibanda could not deny reports that Mabhena and his players sometimes would go for a month or two without being paid, he refuted claims that the resignation of the coach was as a result of failed or late payments.
According to Sibanda, the coach seemed “understanding” whenever there were late payments because they would discuss the situation with him.
However, WeekendSport has learnt that there had been a sour working relationship between the head coach and the management of the team in relation to issues of management. In an interview with this publication earlier this year, Mabhena had expressed displeasure regarding the management’s failure to play its role well. He had argued that this automatically affected the morale of his players. The Club Manager had at that time contradicted Mabhena, saying he “despised the team management”.
Nonetheless, Sibanda said that management had a good working relationship with the coach, though to some degree they did not agree on some management issues. “Mabhena was not behaving like a head coach should. He had the mentality to undermine management decisions despite the fact that we were his employers,” revealed Sibanda.
Media reports have indicated that Mabhena was some time in February given a warning letter regarding his conduct. Failure to solve the disputes between the two saw him (Mabhena) being suspended from his duties two weeks ago.
Following his suspension, Mabhena was then summoned for a disciplinary hearing by the club committee in the course to address tension between the two parties. However at the hearing Mabhena according to Sibanda refused to seat or hear from the committee. Instead he caught them by surprise and produced his resignation letter leaving the committee in wonder.
Efforts to reach Mabhena hit a snag as he is reported to have gone back home to Zimbabwe. Efforts to get a copy of his resignation letter were also futile.
Sibanda could not divulge much information about Mabhena’s reasons for resigning. He however said that Mabhena had disclosed that he was unhappy with the club management.
Mabhena signed into a two year contract with Sankoyo Bush Bucks when they finally made it to the premier league from first division last year. His contract with Ngurungu mandated him to make sure that the new premier league entrants survived relegating back to first division league. His other bonus mandate was to take the team to Top 8, which he failed to achieve.
Sibanda explained that the team was pleased with his technical performance and they had intentions to propose for another one year extension of the contract.
“We are very delighted that he had managed to save us from relegation and with these we thought there was a future with him. We are really saddened by his departure as it was not according to our wish.”
The club expressed that they were willing to take Mabhena back should he withdraw his decision to resign. Sibanda added that issues of the working relationship could be solved.
Meanwhile the club has confirmed their intention to appoint Assistant Coach Gadimang Tiiso to the head coach position. Sibanda explained that they are on the process to acquire required qualifications by BFA for Tiiso which has only been a block in his coaching career.
Tiiso is the man who upgraded Bush Bucks from first division to premier league but could not continue with the team as its head coach due to him not having proper qualifications as required by BFA.
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.