The Botswana National Sports Council’s (BNSC) desperate endeavor to raise money has coerced them not to think twice when the mobile network giant, Mascom, tabled an offer to buy space at the National Stadium’s eastern stands popularly known as ‘Pandamatenga’. This however, has sparked a branding brawl war among the three mobile competitors.
BNSC which has been given landlordship of the stadium by the government through the Ministry of Infrastructure Science and Technology (MIST) agreed within a blink of an eye with Mascom, to mount the mobile operator’s banners at the stadium, something which has not been welcomed by many within the sporting fraternity.
WeekendSport understands that the development was aimed at earning revenues for the sports body to meet the cost demands of daily activities at the stadiums such as maintenance, security since the government no longer assists in those cost areas.
The accelerated agreement has attracted a lot of negative criticism from various sports commentators as they feel it was ‘ill-informed and rushed, without looking at the pros and cons of the agreement’. They posit that will for the time being disadvantage the Botswana Premier League (BPL) and their stakeholders. The elite league which is sponsored by the direct business rival to Mascom, Be mobile, means that the Premier league games could not be staged at the stadium ‘because it would give their competitors mileage they envisage through their (be mobile) product’.
This has been corroborated by the recent category A games that had to be moved to Molepolole, which were initially scheduled to be played at the 22,000 seater National Stadium. Most of the teams have the bulk of their supporters in Gaborone and playing the games outside the capital city has proven to be liability to them as they still survive by among other things, gate-takings. This is said to have rubbed the league sponsor the wrong way as they feel they are used as sacrificial lambs, more especially after the lengthy negotiations which at the end forced them to release the whopping P30 million to the league, they contend that they should be taken serious.
The impasse also means that the senior national football team could not use the facility as they are also supported by another mobile network giant Orange. This publication is aware that the company has shared their grievances to BFA after the Zebras AFCON qualifiers tie against Egypt where the Mascom banners where in full display. Currently the poles of the floodlights are also branded by another Zebras sponsors; Banc ABC, the question is what is going to happen should another bank show interest in the local football?
However, the former BNSC CEO Kitso Kemoen, is of the view that the Sports Council could have communicated with all the stakeholders involved. ‘’We all know that they should sustain themselves and advertising is one of the method they could use to source out funds, but they could have dialoged with other stakeholders and find a common ground.’’ WeekendSport is reliably informed that the two parties, BPL and BNSC, will soon get into the boardroom to discuss the issue and try to come up with an amicable solution which ultimately, is expected to benefit the game.
Some observers however, are asking why this hullaballoo now because in the past various companies were sold spaces in the stadium? ‘’ Nowadays, things have changed; it is not like in the past, people must remember we were once in the same situation during the Castle Cup and we managed to iron it out; the remedy is communication,’’ advised Kemoen.
The national stadium was closed in 2008 for refurbishment for teams that would want to use the facility as a training ground ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South-Africa but unfortunately, it only was re-opened last year. Efforts to speak to the BNSC Chairman Solly Reikeletseng and CEO Thato Kgosimore were futile as they were out of the country at a time of going to print.
Gaborone United was this week crowned 2021/2022 Botswana Premier League (BPL) champions following their 1-0 win over the holders, Jwaneng Galaxy. Thero Setsile’s 13th minute’s goal was enough to seal the league championship, ending 13 years of drought from the Old Naledi outfit.
With two games to go before the top-flight season wraps up, Gaborone United opened a seven points gap to second placed Township Rollers having accumulated 63 points from twenty eight games. The Money machine were the first team to open a new chapter in the history books of Botswana football, when they were crowned the inaugural 2008/09 be Mobile Premiership champions, that came up with P1 million as prize money. Thereafter the club has been on the league drought as it could only manage winning Coca Cola FA Cup in 2012, Mascom top 8 twice in 2013 and 2015. They also won the Orange FA cup last season.
The return of Zackhem as the club financier signaled a new era with a number of galactic signings for the 2021/2022 season. The team brought into their fold big names in local football; Kekaetswe Moloi, Lesego Galenamotlhale and Joel Mogorosi. The arrival of enterprising left wing back Mothusi Johnson, dribbling wizard Mpho Kgaswane and hard tackling midfielder, Lebogang Ditsele made the job easier for the coaches.
Attacker Onkabetse Makgantai also joined the marauding attackers in Thatayaone Kgamanyane and Thero Setsile to make their front line combination the deadliest in the league. Both Kgamanyane and Setsile have netted 34 goals this season with the goal minder Goitseone Phoko keeping 20 clean sheets thus far while conceding just 10 goals. GU is still on the Orange FA Cup race and football commentators believe that they are the favorites looking at the quality of their squad.
As it stands should the Money Machine win all their remaining games, they stand a chance to equal the highest championship winning points record of 76 points which set by Mochudi Center chiefs during the 2007-2008 football season. That record stood for 14 years and Gaborone United could equal that feat should they win their remaining games against Sua Flamingos and struggling Notwane. The Money Machine made the bold statement begging of the 2021/2020 football season when they won 11 games straight games without even conceding a goal.
The Reds, who are under the guidance of Innocent Morapedi, a seasoned coach and his assistant Pontsho Moloi, has been consistent in the title race. In the process, the Old Naledi side has scored 59 goals while conceding the least goals (10 goals) and has a superior goal difference of 49 goals. Gaborone United success breaks Township Rollers and Mochudi Center Chiefs dominance as the only teams to have won the league title more than any other club in the last 13 seasons. GU’s proximity to money and talent were key this season.
Domestically since GU last won the league title, Mochudi Center Chiefs have won it three times; whilst the most decorated football club with 16 titles, Rollers has been dominating the league, winning five titles on the spin in five seasons from 2013-14 to 2018-19. Last season, Jwaneng Galaxy was crowned champions for the very first time due to being at the top of the table when the novel coronavirus pandemic forced the season to be prematurely halted with ten games to play.
After two years of no action across various sports codes including softball, Botswana Softball Association (BSA) is going back to the grounds to resuscitate the sport.
This weekend all roads lead to Selibe Phikwe for the top eight ladies championship. The eight ladies teams comprise the top four ladies teams from the south and north regions. They will then come together and form eight teams and battle it out this weekend at the Phikwe Softball Grounds and Area 2 Mowana Ball Park. The competing ladies teams are Titans, Police, Vikings, UB Giants, Rail giants, Scramblers, Carats and Ghetto Yankees. The champions will be crowned thereafter.
Softball Association Public relations officer, Boingotlo Marope explained that this tournament is not only for ladies, she said men’s championship will be held at Gaborone on the 28th May 2022. She said they have noticed that everything is confined to Gaborone as their headquarters in the southern region. As a result they have decided to take other activities to the northern region as well. “We are trying to grow softball, we don’t want everything to surround Gaborone only which is why the ladies tournament will be held at Selebi Phikwe in the northern region to bring equality.”
However, she explained that the reason they were missing in action is because of Covid 19. “We saw government cautionary trying to protect everyone by putting certain restrictions as spots had to stop for 12 months, we welcomed 12 months to protect Batswana. As a results that lead to the closure as there were no games”.
In addition Marope said they currently don’t have sponsors however private sector has always come through. Bofinet has to cut the sponsorship but that is not due to Covid 19 crisis. “Bofinet has showed commitment, they promised that as soon as they are settled they will come to our door knocking again,” she added.
Marope further said as a results they rely on their tight budget. Few of players has been sponsored, some has to dig from their own pockets, some parents cannot sent their children as some had to quit. “We have worked with our tight budget to assist teams and hoping that in the coming season we can have somebody to assist”.
The Botswana national boxing team recently returned from the zone 4 championship held in Mozambique. The team was led by head coach Thebe Setlalekgosi, two assistant coaches, Gibson Rauwe and Pearl Mooketsi. Two referees and judges, Gaseitsewe Ponatshego and Linda Mooketsi.
In the women’s category, Lethabo Modukanele was representing Botswana in the 48 kg division, while Phekie Bele and Sadie Kenosi were competing in the 57 kg and 60 kg categories, respectively. In the men’s category, Kobamelo Molatlhegi was representing the country in the 52 kg division, while Rajab Mahomed was competing in the under 51 kg category.George Molwantwa was competing for under 57 kg category and Treasure Moremi was competing for under 60kg category.
The boxers came home with seven medals, Modukanele came home with a gold medal, Kenosi, Rajab, Molatlhegi all came home with silver medals. While Moremi, Molwantwa and Phekie Bele all came home with bronze medals.
According to Moitshepi Nkabiti, the public relations officer of the Botswana Boxing Association, the team performed well and that they were hoping that Rajab would also bring home a gold medal. However, due to an eye injury, he could not participate in the finals.
He stated that, “though some people might think that how our team performed is not an achievement it is a big achievement to us. Other countries came with 19 boxers while we only came with our seven boxers, and they all came back with medals. That is something that we have to be proud of I really commend them for their performance. Having 5 players making it to the finals is really a blessing and we should not take it for granted.”
According to Nkabiti, Botswana was ranked fourth in the zone 4 championship, which was held in Mozambique. Other countries that participated in the tournament included South Africa, Zambia, Eswatini, and Seychelles. They all had a total of 19 boxers. Lesotho also had eight boxers.