Notwane relegation story: Then and Now
In 1992, Notwane club dragged the association to court and went on to survive relegation. The same strategy was employed this year but they did not see the light of day this time round as they learnt rather the hard way that nothing lasts forever STAFF WRITER MOSIMANEGAPE TSHOSWANE looks into the team’s bittersweet road to relegation.
The dramatic story of Notwane Football Club landing into the relegation quagmire and then finding a loophole to safety is not a new one. The team, once the powerhouse of Botswana football have now turned villains in the game.
For the first time since their entry into the elite league, the Toronto Boys have bitten the dust. The Selibe Phikwe outfit FC Satmos on Wednesday this week at the Serowe Sports complex defeated the Goliath and will forever be rembered for their hand in Notswane’s downfall.
Notwane had hoped for a repeat of December 1992 to 1993 when they refused to relegate and instead dragged the association before court. An urgent application was filed ordering the association to stop the award ceremony that was to be held almost immediately. The club had been condemned to lower ranks of football by cross-rivals Township Rollers in their last game. But after identifying a loophole, they filed that Rollers was not a fully registered member of the soccer league.
“This protracted and often acrimonious litigation which came about as a result of a game of football on 22 March 1992 between P.G. Notwane Football Club, the respondent in these appeals and Township Rollers. The respondent's team lost to the Township Rollers 4-2. Notwane protested to the Botswana Football Associations League Committee contending that they should not have had to play against Township Rollers who did not belong to the Super League,” read part of the affidavits of 1993.
The case ended in their favour even though BFA refused to stop the award ceremony. The court however could not rule that Notwane be restored back into the league, but it was the association that was left to clean the mess.
However, back then, BFA and FIFA laws were not as biting as they are today. Nobody seemed to care or take the club to task for taking football matters to be adjudicated at the court rooms. As unbelievable as it was, the team never played football at the lower divisions but was only suspended from BFA activities of selling and buying of players. Put in a bold context: the team refused to relegate while a season passed. The following season, they were admitted back into the elite league.
Twenty three years on, the football fraternity is reading the same script. Although so many dynamics have evolved, the club, popularly known as ‘Sechaba’ filed an urgent application pleading with the court to stop their play-off game against FC Satmos. They wanted BFA to fully remonstrate to them what differentiates a protest from a complaint. In their own analysis of the situation, they did not embark on a spontaneous move, but they wanted the association to share a table with them regarding Sankoyo Bush Bucks, “juicy” points.
As unpalatable as it later became, the team received two immediate bullets. First the high court dismissed their urgent application with costs and secondly FC Satmos made sure to add salt to the already open wound, with an unexpected trouncing of 6-4.
Notwane, left to lick their wounds could have more to answer for as BFA could take them to task for again involving the courts on football issues, how lucky will they be this time?
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AFRICA’S RECOVERY: Sports as game changer
The year 2022 witnessed unprecedented phenomena. Several Africans- Gotytom Gebreslase, Sharon Lokedi, Victor Kiplangat, Tamarit Tola and many others- swept the World’s marathons records.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting control measures implemented in several countries, led to many high-level sports competitions being cancelled or shelved, the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games was moved to 2026.
Founder and Executive Chairman, African Sports and Creative Institute, Will Mabiakop, says the inability to hold traditional and amateur sports events have had a serious effect on public health overall, including mental health, sparking a revolution whereby athletes began to talk more openly about stress, mental overload and performance anxiety.
“Africa is home to the fastest growing economies before the crisis, no longer on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COVID-19 deepened interdependence between SDGs, making them harder to achieve, especially SDG 10 (reducing inequality) and SDG 5 (gender equality_ as the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on poorer countries, and heavier burdens (such as care work) fell to women.”
Mabiakop stresses that as policymakers contemplate actions to speed up recovery and build resilience, they must argue that sports and creative businesses should play a central feature in this effort.
“The sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africa’s sports and creative industries can offer policymakers innovative solutions. Especially, as regards job creation, and providing employment to the 15 million people entering the job market annually.”
HOW CAN THE INDUSTRY DO THIS?
By leveraging the two-for-one concept: past studies shown that a 1% growth in the economy delivers a 2% job increment in this sector (these ratios are calculated using data from 48 African countries and adjusted to the reality of the sports economy in Africa by the authors). There are between 30 and 50 job types, in sports and creative industries, respectively. These jobs do not fade away with the first major shock.
Mabiakop indicated that policymakers can use these industries to tackle multiple crises- jobs, poverty, and climate risks. Sports diplomacy- defined as communication, representation and negotiation in or through the prism of sports- has proven effective in building inclusive and cohesive societies. Moreover, sports and the creative industry can support better mental health and well-being, both important for productivity.
“Policymakers can also be true to the game by leveraging culture and tradition to celebrate identity and reap commercial value in sports, textiles and jewelry. Creative sectors allow deeper connection with culture, are not easily copied and provide great economic potential.”
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. “Fortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.”
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. “First avoid build it and they will come policies with infrastructures denuded from the rest of the ecosystem. Like the many sports stadiums left largely unused.”
“Policymakers must remain mindful of how these sectors move the needle in human capital development. Also, align the requisite public policies needed for progress from grassroots participation to professional sports, and even to international sporting events. They should also support investment instruments to render these sectors performant.”