BFA tech director wins reprieve
Benny Kgomela is expected to resume duty immediately
There is delight and delirium sweeping in equal measure across BFA’s Lekidi Football Centre following the association’s accelerated decision to suspend their technical director and pardon him within a week.
WeekendSport has established that their trouble-torn technical director was pardoned on Wednesday evening this week by an independent body appointed by the association following allegations of abuse of office and unprofessionalism.
Benny Kgomela was accused of having his “fingers all over the till”as head of delegation when the senior national team, the Zebras embarked on a trip to play a friendly game against Angola.
Before the Zebras left, there was commotion and confusion as the team threatened to boycott the trip because the association was reportedly arranging for the squad to travel by roadbecause the BFA did not have adequate funds for the encounter.
Reports,which are believed to be from sympathisers of the technical director, say that it was his timely master plan that was initiated in the nick of time to secure a deal for players to board a plane to Luanda, the Angolan capital. Butupon the Zebras’ return, reports of missing funds emerged and – by virtue of him being the head of delegation – he (Kgomela) was immediately fingered.
To make matters worse, the technical director was accused of interfering in matters that did not directly concern him. At a time when the association battled an intense dilemma of appointing a national Under-23 coach, Kgomela was seen to be a major stumbling block in the way of those who wanted Pio Paul, the senior national assistant coach, to be the man for the post.
Their differences with Paul were believed to be crude, and when they lost their cool at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks (SSKB) Stadium, Kgomela was seen to be out of his way.
Instruction is believed to have been crafted from BFA top brass to suspend him immediately for he was seen to be meddling inthe BFA-mooted reform process. The BFA CEO Keith Masters was requested to write a letter suspending the then ailing director, but the CEO went on leave before the letter could reach Kgomela’s desk.
Upon Maters return from leave in Britain, Kgomela was slapped with the suspension. This publication learns that there were two major issues (maladministration and unprofessionalism) that pinned the director against the wall.
According to those close to the developments, the independent committee comprising Suzie Montsho (as an additional member of BFA), Samuel Keitireng (regional chairman) and Gaborone United chairman Professor Nkomazama found Kgomela guilty but was warned and told to return to work.
The verdict, in essence, means that should he repeat the same mistakes he will be expelled largely for bringing the name of the game into disrepute.
The development came as good news to those who believed there had been a plot to frustrate him from BFA radar. Such, until now, had been linked with reports that Kgomela was hired through back door dealings as, according to the fallen Vice President (technical) Ernest Nthobelang, the man was never short-listed during recruitment process.
However, Kgomela’s reprievehas left his detractors fuming.
Contacted for comment from BFA offices, Kgomela declined to share details with this publication. He however validated that he came for disciplinary hearing on Wednesday but all answers are with President Tebogo Sebego and Keith Masters.
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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.”