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.
The case involving the improper registration of Township Rollers left back, Onkarabile Ratanang which has been dragging for a long time since the beginning of this year was finally put to bed this week after Botswana Football League (BFL) Disciplinary Committee (DC) found Mapalastina guilty.
In what shocked many football fanatics this week, Popa Popa as they are affectionately known by their legion of fans were fined P15 000 for using a defaulter in some of their league matches. It must be noted that no team officially filed a formal protest against Rollers. In April this year, Botswana Football Association (BFA) Secretariat conducted investigations into registration of Ratanang and discovered that the player was registered outside the transfer registration period.
According to a statement from secretariat, it revealed that BFA registration period was from 13th July 2021 to the 30th September 2021 but Ratanang was registered on the 28th of October 2021 and this was done contrary to the rules and statutes of the BFA. After the investigations were conducted, two officials from Rollers and a former BFA employee Setete Phuthego who are alleged to have been implicated in the registration of Ratanang were suspended from all footballing activities.
The two Rollers officials were, General Manager Sydney Magagane and Team Manager Motshegetsi Mafa. However Mafa’s suspension was withdrawn on June 27 though there was no disciplinary hearing conducted. Rollers was represented by Bennett Mamelodi who is the CEO of the club together with Kgosietsile Ngaakagae and Martin Dingake in the Ratanang case. The Botswana Premier League (BFL) Prosecution team was led by Chalengwa Manyepedza, Bojosi and three other members.
When delivering the long awaited judgement on Thursday, Manyepedza who is the chairman of BFL Prosecution team said there were two mitigating factors in favour of Rollers with the most important aggravating factor being the seriousness of the offence. “To their benefit and it has not been violently contested to suggest otherwise, Rollers approached the BFA office for help (in their words) and curiously the BFA office that ought to be custodians of the system allowed the request and thereafter kept quiet about the matter,” reads part of the judgement.
“It is a matter of record that Township Rollers have maintained that the situation central to the case was facilitated and somewhat sanctioned by the named BFA officer who received the application albeit out of time as it has been established but still proceeded to procure the registration and clearance of the player and thereafter kept quiet about the matter.”
Furthermore Manyepedza indicated that there is a problem in the BFA office in terms of governance and adherence to controls judging from what allegedly happened. He further said whilst the BFA junior officer claimed that they were directed by a superior officer to assist the accused, “there has been nothing more placed before us to support the argument that Rollers were the only party with dirt on their hands in his case.”
He went on to emphasize that the committee finds that the appropriate sanction should also pronounce that the respective office of the BFA that facilitated the transgression was also remiss and complicit in their discharge of their functions. “As stated in the main judgement the player was a defaulter and the issue of his status did not arise from the protest or complaint or in any way as contemplated in the BFL Disciplinary code. It must be emphasized that the case would been different if all the issues had an aggrieved party or if any would have followed the set procedure in the BFL code,” he said.
Manyepedza said after taking all relevant factors into account including the demands of justice, the committee finds it fitting that the possible punishment in the matter to be prescribed above at clause 6.3 to be a fine of P15 000 and that the fine should be paid within 3 days of the judgement. In conclusion, he cautioned Rollers to refrain from any further acts of being negligent or clumsy in discharging their office functions to end up seeking favours from officials. Manyepedza also advised Rollers that they have 10 days to appeal the judgement.
Youthful coach Wame Mokoke has come out with guns blazing to the Extension Gunners official who he said recruited him back to the club after he dumped them for greener pastures at Jwaneng Galaxy but failed to deliver on their promises.
Pepe Zino, as he is otherwise known, then joined Galaxy on a 2 year deal to deputise head coach Morena Ramorebodi but 2 weeks later retraced his steps back to Mapantsula, a move he highly regrets. “That guy (name withheld as the issue is now before the courts of law) counteroffered what Galaxy had offered, promised to timely pay my salary from his company on behalf of Gunners and also promised me a 4 hectare piece of land at Dikgonnye, that is what really lured me back but he failed to deliver, ” Mokoke said in an interview with this publication.
After rejoining Gunners much to the allured charm that was dangled in front of him, Mokoke timely received his first month salary back in January but nothing thereafter as the unending stories began. “I could be far by now as Galaxy offered me an opportunity of a lifetime. They even promised to further my coaching badges but look at where I am now, “Mokoke disappointedly explained.
However, Mokoke said he has approached the labour courts for his defaulted payments and as for the piece of land, he registered the case with the High Court of Botswana and they are set to appear for a hearing on the 6th of August. He further added that he has proof of all the documents the official allegedly signed before his own laywers to authorise the land giveaway and the promise of monthly salary payments and furnished the judges with them.
A week ago Mokoke went back home as he was unveiled as the new First Division side Mahalapye Highlanders head coach on a 2 year deal and said he is excited about the new challenge that lies ahead of him as the management gave him attainable goals. “They simply asked me come and help them get promoted back to the premier league by building my own team and promised to avail the resources. I have also been given the authority over the establishment of our junior teams.
To try and achieve all these in a space of 2 years is a fair requirement,” he added. One of the projects Mokoke envisions is to try and unite the people of Mahalapye in terms of trying to get fully behind Highlanders including the supporters and the players in and around the Mahalapye area.
For starters, Mokoke said he wants to alter the tradition that has ingrained at Highlanders as majority of the players there were not from the team’s area of abode and he wants to give Mahalapye players a chance in order for them to don the blue and white of Highlanders with pride and sense of belonging and to steer the ship.
Furthermore, Mokoke is equally peturbed by the trend among the football fraternity of local coaches being undermined while their foreign counterparts enjoy prestigious welfare albeit being equally qualified as them. “Let us change the welfare of our local coaches who have oftentimes showed that they are equally qualified and capable like foreign coaches. Let us invest in our own and also empower them,” said Mokoke in a parting shot.
Botswana shall be sending a team of 34 athletes to represent the country at the biggest games of the 2022 calendar year, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, officially known as the XXII Commonwealth Games.
The Games are slated to take place between the 28th July and 8th August 2022 in Birmingham, England. According to BNSOC, Botswana has been accorded thirty-five (35) slots at the upcoming games and has been able to qualify outright one athlete from the Botswana Weightlifting Federation making the total team size thirty-six (34), the largest team to be fielded by less population country thus far.
In celebrating and lauding this feat by team Botswana, , the British High Commissioner to Botswana, Her Excellency Sian Price recently hosted an intimate reception for the team, at her residence. “Consider this little bit of the UK in Botswana the first stage on your journey to Birmingham. It’s not just me that is excited to have you here, the city of Birmingham is very excited to welcome you, and they are welcoming you and all other family members from across the commonwealth because we are a family of nations, and we enjoy these celebrations that introduce the coming together of family to play together, to celebrate together and to strive together for excellence,” said Price.
Price said this will be the most inclusive Commonwealth Games ever, with more para sports than ever before and for the first time in history this makes me excited; there will be more medal events for women than for men. When addressing the athletes, BNOC CEO Botho Bayendi reveals to ‘unveil’ the concept that is believed to be mastered seed that will grow and bear fruit as they go to Birmingham from today up to the day of departure in 2024.
“As BNOC we have partnered with BITC, and BNSC to conceive a concept called the first, the best and the number one. In this concept, we are trying to persuade the mindset of the people to say that sports is for sports for live, sports generate joy to us all and sports unite,” she said. Bayendi further explained that this is a concept where they will be approaching individuals and companies who in their line of business have been classified as the best of the best or the number one.
“We intend to leverage the national unity behind sports in relation to the ultimate sports excellence. We are saying that we want to create an atmosphere where everybody, every national of Botswana will relate positively with the sports excellence and will be contributing that excellence,” she said. “The Olympic Games are guided by the values of excellence, friendship, and respect. Therefore, we want to be selling these values and allowing everybody, the company, individual to relate with these values.”
For his part chairman of Botswana Olympic Association France Mabiletsa, a former Olympian, said athletes should dream big so that those who come after them will enjoy and benefit from their dreams. He advised them to just enjoy their sport. “Don’t take drugs, don’t dodge from the camps because the moment you start dodging, or you don’t come back you will be punished severely,” he said. Standard charted bank CEO Mpho Masupe said it is important that as athletes they look in the long term and see where they can excel so that they know whether they could make a good coach, teacher, or instructor, saying they should not limit themselves.