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The neglect of women’s football


When the women’s football league was introduced some years back, football die-hards were optimistic that it marked the beginning of better things to come especially that organisers were able to rope in sponsors. But things have gotten out of hand and the league is in inexorable decline. Where did we miss the plot?


Just this past month, the whole of the African continent witnessed the Women African Championships; unfortunately this nation was not represented. The national senior women’s team failed to go past the preliminary round as they were reduced to minced meat by their neighbours Banyana Banyana of South Africa via an embarrassing 10-0 score-line.

If anything this served to confirm that women’s football is not taken seriously especially by the mother-body, the Botswana Football Association (BFA), as the team’s failure in the prefatory stages had the coach publicly declaring that they never prepared for the games.

It is highly unlikely the men’s team preparing for any important tournament would travel without having had a camp. Even in the face of financial constraints the BFA would always try by all means to source funds to at least play against Lesotho or Swaziland, for example. Why is the same not happening with the ladies?


As it stands the women’s league is played with nothing at stake for the winners. Ever-since founding sponsor AT & T Monnakgotla Travel& Tours pulled out two seasons ago, the poor ladies have been struggling to secure a deal. Playing for nothing in the league could lead to poor showing by the national team especially when they face their opponents from countries with better organised women’s leagues.

In fact there is no competition in our league, hence the sub-standard performance by our girls. Who knows maybe they don’t even train midweek; they just meet on match-day. This is not good enough. The country will not benefit anything from the league apart from producing mediocre players who will bring back our old tag of the ‘Weeping girls of Africa’.


When the campaigns for the BFA committee elections were reaching the crescendo in July, the then Chairperson for the league Senki Sesinyi, who was eyeing one of the National Executive Committee (NEC) posts, when engaged by this publication about the future of the women’s league, called for calm saying he had found sponsorship that was to be launched soon. But until now we are still waiting for that momentous thing to happen, or was it just the traditional way of gaining undeserved political mileage: making promises you cannot keep?


Efforts to get hold of Sesinyi for an update on how far he has gone with the sponsorship promise, failed this week as his mobile number was off.


However, it is no secret that playing in ‘’cashless’ league has proven in the past that it is a heavy load on the shoulders of the clubs; teams have de-registered from the league as it was a financial drain on them.


With women’s football in catch 22 situations one would have thought that around $US700,000 grants that were released by FIFA as the bonus after the World Cup would help avert the situation, but that is not the case. BFA President Tebogo Sebego made it clear at the general meeting in July that women’s football would not get a percentage from those monies as the cake was already divided.


When this publication engaged him on Wednesday this week, he said they were concerned, as the over-seers, about the state of the league, adding that they were in negotiations with some potential investors to partner with in the league. Should Batswana expect something or he is just playing games like Sesinyi did some months ago?


The teams have made their plea to the public that they are traversing a rocky terrain in their bid to bring women’s football at par with the men’s premier league but it appears that it is a ‘foetal ambition’. Teams like Township Rollers, who are financially well off compared to other teams, are likely to survive the challenges.

Double Action, who used to be Queens of the Jungle when there was a sponsorship, are now struggling. Rollers are currently at the summit of the log, a clear sign that the problem is money at the league.


During the reign of Monnakgotla, as the headline sponsor, the league had the charm as the teams were organised during match-days – but that is history now.  Teams came on time for the games and it was rare to hear that a team did not show up for the games.

Players were also exported to countries like Zimbabwe.  Star player Bonang ‘Bebeto’ Otlhagile is a case in point, and this was made possible because scouts used to come to Botswana to look for players, which was a good thing for the growth of women’s football.


However, with Sebego’s statement that “women should expect something” better as they are still cooking something in the oven, all is not lost. Hopefully his promise will not remain a promise for eternity.
 

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Sport

Rakgare addresses BFA presidential candidates

21st September 2020
Minister Tumiso Rakgare

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.

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Sport

Virtual meet for BFA elections

21st September 2020
Malesu

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.
BFA President: Letshwiti
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.

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Sport

Talks to merge BNOC, BNSC resurface

14th September 2020
BNOC,BNSC merge

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.

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