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Is it poor sport marketing or unattractive league?


Botswana football has experienced transformation in the last few years with the league being able to attract significant sponsorship deals. Despite the league attracting lucrative sponsorship deals, the same cannot be said about the clubs, as they continue to face severe financial difficulties season after another. Staff Writer ALFRED MASOKOLA offers insights on how Botswana football fraternity can make a huge leap in creating new sources of revenues.


Botswana’s economy is classified as middle upper economy and has performed significantly well since the country gained independence. Between 1980 and 1990 Botswana had one of the fastest growing economies in the world with growth averaging over 10 percent per year.

Today, Botswana still has a stable economy, but surprisingly some neighbouring countries with inferior economy have managed to attract sponsors from the corporate world to pour money into their football fraternity, which has helped to surge the standard football and players’ welfare.


TV rights deal
The world over, TV rights have taken centre stage as one of the largest source of revenue in football and other sporting activities. In today’s world no matter the good attendance, gate takings cannot cover the cost associated with running football clubs.

There was an attempt to construct a meaningful TV deal with both Botswana Television (Btv) and Super Sport but ultimately, the deal brought nothing substantive forward.  Btv is a television owned by state, which should be an easier partner to convince to splash money on local football.

Currently Btv pays BPL P6 million as television rights to broadcast the league games. Since 2008, government has spent over P100million in constituency football, a handsome amount but hardly with visible gains on the ground.

Assuming that such amount was spent on professional football since 2008,  huge progress would have been observed. Botswana Premier League can astutely convince government through Btv to purchase TV rights at a lucrative price, say, P40 million per season.

Like in the English Premier League, the amount will then be distributed in a strategic manner; P20 million being shared equally by the 16 clubs, while the other P20 million is divided based on merit, thus each team’s position on the log in the preceding season.

This will not only improve the standard of the league, or benefit the football players alone-it will also be a plus for the government since it will create new jobs in clubs’ office administrations. The BPL will then have to introduce mandatory development leagues for all 16 league teams.    


Sponsorship
 The biggest sponsorship in local league history was a P15 million deal with network giant beMobile in 2008. The deal was later extended on improved terms in 2011, and 2014 with the sponsor splashing P24 million and P30 million respectively. So far, the beMobile deal has a worth of P69 million over a period of 9 years.

This is a good development for the league, however the same cannot be said about individual clubs. Very few have managed to secure sponsorship, and most of the time the deals are not lucrative. Township Rollers has secured a deal with Capital Bank for an undisclosed fee, similarly with Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Vega while Gaborone United has had a deal with Old Mutual since 2013. 

While other teams have struggled to secure sponsorship deals from local companies, the big three; Rollers, Chiefs and GU are backed by the ownership arrangement as they have signed with wealthy individuals in the past few years, an olive branch which has eluded most of the teams in the league.


Improved league standard
The problem might be how our football fraternity conducts its sport marketing since it is not a matter of an entirely unattractive league. Botswana’s football standard has improved in the last decades and local players have gone to look for greener pastures outside and performed well. 

Home grown players like Mogogi Gabonamong, Joel Mogorosi, Modiri Marumo, Tsotso Ngele to mention but a few have had impressive stints in the neighbouring South Africa Premier Soccer Leauge (PSL), a sure sign that our league is competitive enough. Other foreign players like Terrence Mandanza, and Tendai Ndoro, who had stints in BPL before looking else are also a reference to the quality of the league.


Opportunities
Why is it that the league teams are being eluded by lucrative local deals? There are many companies operating in Botswana which are multinational and are known to be associated with football or sport sponsorship in other countries. Barclays Bank has the most lucrative deal in the world with English Premier League worth £120 million (P1.8 billion) in three seasons. They were previous reports that Barclays will take over as the new BPL sponsor last season, but nothing has materialised. 

Standard Charted, one of the first foreign banks in Botswana sponsors Premier League giants Liverpool which was initially launched in 2010 and has since been extended with a further three years. In 2010 the agreement was worth £60 million (p915million) over three seasons.

Other corporate giants operating in Botswana with sports or football deals in other countries include Hollard (not main sponsor) which sponsors Kaizer Chiefs, AON, which sponsored Manchester United previous seasons. Others include Engine, SAMSUNG, and Nokia just to mention a few. In Botswana this corporate entities have been reluctant to sponsor football, despite their still being dominant players in the market.


Government policy intervention
In other countries, governments offer tax incentives to corporate entities that significantly support sport with lucrative deals. Botswana should do the same. The football fraternity should influence government policies in such a way that it would greatly improve football in Botswana, especially in monetary terms. For instance, companies like Barclays, FNB e.t.c that pay taxes of over P300 million annually, may be enticed with introduction of tax incentives for sponsoring sporting activities in Botswana.

For instance, a sponsorship worth P10 million per year may be set up as a minimum threshold to qualify for government tax incentives. This would change the fortunes of football in Botswana and lead to transformations that will greatly inspire growth in the sporting fraternity, including creation of jobs for the benefit of the government.

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Sport

Two of a kind emerge

1st March 2021
Letsile Tebogo and Maungo Matlhaku

Events that recently unfolded in the athletics world locally point only to possibility – Letsile Tebogo and Maungo Matlhaku are well groomed to receive the baton from Isaac Makwala and Lydia Jele respectively.

The two athletes sprinted to new local track records, smashing those set by their seniors.

As it is the norm in athletics, the biggest mistake these two athletes could make is to drop the baton. The two youngsters must not look back, they must steeplechase – clear all the hurdles so they may surpass the feet achieved by their seniors.

Letsile Tebogo announced his arrival in scintillating fashion recently. Barely two years after smashing Thebe’s 200m national record of 21:25 during Gaborone Games in 2019, this past weekend the young lad obliterated yet another 100m national record of 10.20 seconds. For a long time the record was held by the country’s iconic athlete Isaac Makwala.

Tebogo set a new record, completing the race in 10.14 seconds. Tebogo, who is currently under Lefika Athletics Club, came into the meet, organised by Sports View Runners Club, with a personal best of 10.49 seconds.

However, the new national record was not good enough for Tebogo to qualify for the Olympic Games as he needed to clock 10.05 seconds; which is the Olympic qualifying entry under the 100meters category. For his efforts, he received P1 000 cash and a trophy.

Under the women’s category, Leungo Matlhaku also stole the show after clocking 11.24 seconds to replace Lydia Jele’s national record of 11.39 seconds which she set in May 2019.

When speaking to local media after the race, Matlhaku assured the nation to expect the best performance at the upcoming events as she aims to qualifying for Tokyo Olympics and World Championships.

The sensational 100m sprinter said: “Even though after almost nine months without training, performance was testimony of the fact that the best was yet to come.”

Matlhaku noted that setting new national records was an indication that athletes were at their peak performance and that the upcoming national meets would be appetizing with the positive performance.

This week WeekendSport caught up with Tebogo, who expressed his gratitude to the national team athletes as the pillar behind his strength since they encouraged him to work hard. He agrees that he needs to habituate himself to hard work.

He said Saturday’s performance helped him realise his dream of qualifying for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics which was postponed last year due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

“For me to qualify for the upcoming Olympics under 100 meters category, I will have to clock 10.05 seconds which is qualification entry while under 200meter is 20.24 seconds,” he shared.

When quizzed how Covid-19 has affected his preparation he said: “It has affected us badly as preparation training for the competition was halted, but the lockdown imposed was however useful as I used the period to work out on my strength which are necessary for a sprinter.”

Tebogo started seriously taking part in athletics in 2016 when he was still at primary school. At the time he was under the guidance of former national team coach, Mogomotsi Otsetswe.

In 2016 during Botswana Primary School Sports Association (BOPSSA) competitions, he won three gold medals in 100m, 200m and 4x100m relays.

Despite not winning anything the previous year, 2018 saw him come back well prepared and went on to win two gold medals under the 200m category and 4X100m relays. He also won a silver medal after a sterling performance in the 100m race during the Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA) national finals.

Tebogo went on to win the gold medal after clocking an impressive time of 21:12, qualifying for under 20 World Athletics Championships which was to be held in Kenya last year but was postponed yet again due to corona virus.

Over the last 10 years, Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) has been famed for its consistency when it comes to producing the country’s top athletes, who are dominating and widening the competition gap with other sporting codes.

The code success expresses itself in elite talents the likes of Baboloki Thebe, Nigel Amos, Amantle Montsho and Karabo Sibanda to mention but a few.

These top talents made sure athletics remain at the top in this country.

 

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Sport

P120m BFA Academy dream shattered

1st March 2021
Jim James Ratcliffe - Ineos Group Ltd

Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership is devastated after Ineos Group Ltd, a British multinational chemicals company, somersaulted on their initial promise to build a multi-million Pula football academy and instead travelled up north to pitch camp in Ivory Coast.

This publication has learnt that Ineos Group which had signed contracts with the association was at a very advanced stage to erect a P120 million state-of-the-art academy in a plot located behind the national stadium in Gaborone.

According to close sources, Ineos however grew frustrated by Botswana’s lengthy and haphazard processes and procedures that led them nowhere and only served to waste more time. Ineos were reportedly irked by the delay and dumped BFA before the end of last year.

Things took a nasty twist in April of 2018 when Botswana leadership reshuffled the cabinet. Ministry of Sport faces therefore changed as Thapelo Olopeng was replaced by Tshekedi Khama.

It is said that under Olopeng, processes were fast tracked as the cabinet was briefed, and endorsed the development. Things started moving at a snail’s space after Khama took office. It emerges that the then Minister had to freeze every move after reports came thick and fast that some National Executive Committee members were almost secret shareholders of the academy.

The matter was so volatile that it reached the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) offices for further investigations.

While that seemingly turned off Ineos group, the straw that would broke the camel’s back was the realisation that some appointed architects had dragged the association to court for failing to adhere to agreed terms.

However, one high ranking BFA official said that indeed Ineos group has abandoned talks and have up and left.

“I do not want to dwell much on the story of corona virus effects, but what I can tell you is that there was a lot of petty talks surrounding this academy, and this was never going to take us anywhere. We were dealing with professionals and they are gone,” the NEC member said.

It was indicated that BFA was at a stage of re- engaging the British chemical engineer turned financier and industrialist, Sir James Ratcliffe to start pumping money into the project that was to run for a period of two years.

Ratcliffe had frequented the country on three occasions, precisely at Lekidi Football Centre, since MacLean Letshwiti assumed the BFA power seat in 2016.

The main reason for the visits, WeekendSport had learnt was to discuss setting up the academy as well as to assess the possible piece of land where the academy would be set up.

The state-of-the-art facility, according to the site layout included-among others-accommodation for up to 80 people; indoor training facility; fully equipped gym; Restaurant for both academy and public meals. High tech media conference centre that can seat 80, 3 x full size top of range FIFA approved turf fields, artificial turf 5-a-side fields, boardroom and office space and on site medical services (doctor and physiotherapists).

In addition, the project will help upgrade the netball facilities as well as install a multi-sport zone for public use.The facility was not only to be used for football but was to be a commercial structure which would be used to generate money to run itself.

BFA said the objectives of the academy was to provide young footballers from Botswana an opportunity to transform into better footballers at a world class facility in their home country.

Furthermore, it was to allow the best players to travel to Lausanne, Switzerland- a country that also houses the FIFA headquarters- to complete a further two years of academy training and education that will eventually avail them the opportunity to become professional footballers in Europe and elsewhere.

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Sport

Nijel to sell Olympic medal

1st March 2021
NIJEL AMOS

Botswana Olympic medallist, Nijel Amos has written to the Botswana National Sport Commission requesting permission to sell the silver medal he won at London 2012 Olympics.

BNSC is currently seized with the request and contemplating the best solution. According to sources at BNSC, the sports organisation is unwilling to give in to Amos’ demands of selling the medal as they believe it is a national treasure.

It is the first medal the country won at the Olympics- a major sports competition.”They have turned him down and are planning to find ways of assisting him as he said in the letter that he is selling the medal to raise money for his charity and also to raise money for himself,” said a source.

“They have been in contact with him to see how they can assist him in that regard and should he turn them down they plan to buy the medal from him and put it either at the museum or somewhere where people can come and see the medal just like in other countries.”

The 27 year-old 800 meter athlete clinched Botswana’s first ever and only Olympic medal at the Summer Olympics in 2012 held in London, United Kingdom.

Amos confirmed to this publication that he has written to BNSC but he is yet to receive feedback from them. “I have to get permission before selling it. I am now waiting for them to give me feedback. I cannot tell you why I want to sell the medal out of respect because the matter is still being discussed,” said Amos.

Acting BNSC Chief Executive Officer, Tuelo Serufho confirmed that they have received the letter and are still finding possible ways of dealing with the issue since it is the first of its kind.

“We have not yet finalised on how to best deal with the issue as you are aware it is a very delicate matter and needs serious attention. We will find the best way to solve it and we hope to soon meet with the athlete and engage him on how to deal with it,” said Serufho.

Botswana made her Olympic debut in 1980, Moscow, Russia and only managed to get a silver medal in 2012 through Marobela born Amos who was a teenager at the time.

Amos clocked 1:41:73 seconds, behind Kenya’s David Rudish. The time turned out to be a set-up of some fierce competition between the two athletes since then till to now.

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