This past Friday (yesterday) Batswana endorsed the new Government to lead the nation until 2019 when the next general election will be held. But for the past five years how has Botswana fared in terms of sport? Has the Government done enough to develop the sports industry? KETUMILE RAMATITI looks at how the Government dealt with some thorny issues in the field of sport and the way forward.
With the population of less than two million, Botswana is one of the least populated countries in Africa, which has performed fairly well in sport especially in international competitions where our athletes have been able to paint a good picture of this semi-arid country to the outside world. However, there have been shortcomings here and there as far as the Government is concerned in terms of its initiatives, which tend to backfire due to administration lapses.
DEVELOPMENT STRUCTURES From time immemorial one of the issues of concern to the sport industry locally has been development; both athlete-based and administrative but thus far it appears we are still using old-fashioned methods of doing things. All Government development initiatives have been brilliant ideas but execution has been a letdown to those noble initiatives.
The Reba Bona Ha programme, which is the oldest development programme, has failed to nurture the talent that it could, this is so because kids only get to train on weekends for about three hours but then do nothing midweek. To get the best out of this the Government could have made it in such a way that kids train daily so that they get to master what they practise and end up producing high breeds.
Another government idea that has backfired is the centres of sport excellence, which have also proven to be a liability. These centres have ordinary teachers acting as mentors, something which leads to the production of premature athletes because they are not moulded accordingly by ‘still-growing’ teacher-coaches.
Like they say, nothing comes cheap; the Government authorities should dig deeper into their pockets and give those teachers the necessary skills so that we produce mature well-rounded athletes who can represent this nation well on the global stage. All the centres of excellence have not been dominating in their respective codes, so the state has failed to come up with strategies to get the best out of this project.
If the leadership of this country could have provided necessary personnel and relevant structures be put in place then will see those centres produce the desired outcome. The controversial Constituency Tournaments, which nearly landed this country in hot soup with FIFA, cannot be glossed over. The tournaments don’t have age restrictions which means very old people play in the competitions.
This could have been better if the tournaments were designed to develop young ones who, as a nation, will reap something out of them in future like Segolame Boy rather than old and tired people being developed. How are they going to benefit the country?
The tournaments are also a hindrance to mainstream sport as athletes opt for them instead of professional leagues because of financial gain; so the government must take this as a lesson and try to harness resources to get the best out of these tournaments. The next Government that will be taking charge of this nation should also look at these loopholes and try to patch them up where necessary.
LEADERSHIP Another letdown for Botswana sport is administration deficiency from all levels even at the mother-body; Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC). The Government, which is the overseer and financier of the BNSC, should make sure that a sports body like BNSC is fully fledged. For a long time the CEOs have been coming and going at the BNSC, something which the Government could have rectified by getting down to the root cause of the exodus.
It is worrying that even now the sports council still has an acting CEO, yet an organisation like a sports council needs a permanent CEO. There have been allegations that the relations between BNSC and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) are frosty too. This has a lot of people calling for both organisations to merge as they normally ‘fight’ to take the shine from each other especially when it comes to international showpieces.
Some people have been going to the extent that various codes must take responsibility to elect the Chairperson of BNSC – rather than the Government appointing its preferred candidate – so they can caucus and present their ideal leader than a Minister who at times may be clueless about sports dynamics.
Lack of leadership has caused the country dearly as certain sport codes, including women’s football, and basketball league are played without sponsorship, which does not bode well for Botswana, when it comes to international competitions.
Recently we saw the national women’s team being thrashed by South Africa 10-0, confirming Honourable Shaw Kgathi’s words that ‘’we should never send ill-prepared teams to competitions”. However, during the reign of Kgathi as the minister of youth sport and culture, there were sports of pitso meetings where different stakeholders would share ideas on how to improve sport in the country, something which should continue for the next five years.
FACILITIES Another cause for concern to the sporting community is the availability of sports facilities. This came to the fore recently when we dreamt of bidding for 2017 AFCON as one of the pre-requisites was a 40 000 capacity stadium, which unfortunately Botswana does not have even though there were issues of consultation between BFA and BNSC.
Since the opening of the new Lobatse Stadium in 2009 nothing in terms of a new facility has been done. The Francistown Stadium is now a white elephant though millions of Pula were invested into its development.
As a developing country we should try by all means to have proper facilities, at least one international stadium like what Zambia did by constructing the Levy Mwanawasa stadium because our National Stadium is no longer ideal as it has been overtaken by events.
Athletics, which has been putting this country on a world map, is yet to have any facility that will complement the athletes’ hard work. In this era where the likes of Amantle Montsho are hanging up their running spikes, we should have a palace where enterprising athletes will nurture their talent rather than sending athletes abroad to facilities where they can train well.
Recently, the Botswana Amateur Athletics Association (BAA) announced that it was planning to erect a high performance centre, which needs around P400 million but sadly the BNSC says it cannot afford.
Again it means the dream of having those facilities is still far-fetched this has left the BAA top brass keeping their finger crossed that the next Government will listen to their pleas. However, we have seen attempts by Government to provide sports facilities, which have benefited codes like volleyball as they now play their games indoors via availability of IHS facilities.
This has been a welcome development. The impending opening of the sports centre at the University of Botswana (UB) is also expected to reduce congestion at the few available ones. The state of the art facility will cater for various indoor codes including boxing and table tennis, among others. In terms of facilities, the Government cannot be commended because it could have done better.
HOSTING EVENTS Late in their term the Government helped in hosting a number of events with the latest being the legendary Africa Youth Games (AYG). Botswana hosted the COSAFA Under-20 competitions in 2010 and 2011, which has been a good development from the government side. A variety of sports codes have also joined the bandwagon; rugby hosted the World Cup qualifiers and netball followed in their footsteps.
It demonstrated what this nation can do by hosting successful games despite the short notice. This past government can be given pat on back too for taking sport seriously, especially in terms of hosting huge continental and global and events.
It is through this regime that Botswana saw our representative teams doing well in international event. Montsho in 2010 made history as she got a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2011 the senior national football team, the Zebras qualified for the first time to AFCON finals. In the year 2012 Botswana also notched the first Olympic medal courtesy of Nigel Amos who is now going up the success ladder.
Players are also being exported to professional leagues; volleyball has Tracy Chaba who plied her trade in Algeria before coming back home and basketball is also on the verge of sending their star, Baros Churchill, to Angola where the sport is played on a professional basis while netball has also sent Hildah Binang to Singapore for a season. But the success of these players can be attributed to their own brilliance.
This past Government has played its part and the next Government should improve upon what is already there so that at the end of the day Botswana sport is the winner.
Township Rollers Head Coach, Nikola Kavazovic, has left a note on management’s table addressing the futures of Galabgwe Moyana and Lemponye Tshireletso. The duo had their stay at the club in the spotlight as debate over refreshing the squad raged on.
It is reported that Kavazovic had scheduled talks with the attacking midfielders as he seeks to convince them to stay for one more season at the club. The gaffer wants to turn the club’s pot of gold into silverware one more time.
Moyana had already offered himself to premier league rookies, Masitaoka Football Club.However, Rollers has other experienced players and the expectation is that many titles will still be won.
However, the club has made it known that it wants to traverse a torrid passage of CAF champion’s league, reaching group stages, at the very least.It is in this regard that Kavazovic will wants Moyana and Tshireletso to stay.
He hopes their injury nightmares will be arrested hence they could take leading roles to stir the Rollers ship to victory again.More often than not during the last season, their absence left Rollers struggling.But they too, could struggle to return to full fitness missing the opportunity to drive Rollers back to glory days, alongside the rest of Roller veterans in skipper Maano Ditshupo and Ofentse Nato.
But the team’s insistence and promise to make a loud impact in the coming season is still awaiting confirmation. The duo in particular will have to stand strong otherwise the ambition mirrors a tomorrow that will never come.
Engendered into the multi-million project of Jagdish Shah, the players were recruited to embody the present and future of the club and true to that testament, both have played a pivotal role for Rollers to win more silverware.
The talent of the duo, after reuniting with Kavazovic, should make the case for Rollers to once again make headline impact, particularly in the CAF competition starting next year January. Kavazovic agrees that as a unit they could find an edge as clubs are preparing for a return to the field.
Away from the Rollers stage, both players have won many titles with Mochudi Centre Chiefs and are still loved by their followers.When reached for comment, Rollers media liaison officer, Phempheretlhe Pheto, said there are in fact four players who were supposed to leave the club.
He said all will be decided after talks are completed as each player will face the management about the way forward.“It is not only the two guys, they are about four players whose contracts have expired but each one of them is expected to negotiate with management. Their future will be determined by the outcome of the talks,” he said.
The other two players are Kaone van der Westhuizen who is playing as a left back as well as Bogosi Nfila who was signed to bring goals.
Botswana international defender, Lesenya Ramoraka’s situation at TS Galaxy has been explained by his agent Tumi Gabonamong.
The 26 year old defender found himself in a tight situation after his club; Highlands Park’s status was bought by renowned football agent Tim Sukazi of TS Galaxy.
The sudden changes meant that some players were to be released by the team to accommodate new recruitments and changes at the club. As the club status was acquired, Ramoraka’s contract at Highlands was left with a year and the club opted to keep him despite spending much time on the side-lines due to injuries.
According to Gabonamong the lanky left back is part of the new TS Galaxy team although he was not included in the team list for this season. As per information gathered, Ramoroka will only be registered with the team in the next transfer window slated for January.
“He is very much still part of the team. He is currently nursing an injury he sustained during the bubble games. He will of course start training end of November or beginning of December. They’ll only register him in the next transfer period, he’s part of the team,” said Gabonamong.
Ramoraka has proven himself since joining the team in 2018 from Orapa United. Lee as Ramoraka is known in football circles has so far played 29 games for the team, netting only once.
“Ramoraka is one of the players that survived the changes at the team, remember the team doesn’t have many left backs and he is a quality player having so far cemented a place in the starting line-up. I believe after his injury he will fight for a place as usual.
That is why the team kept him therefore people shouldn’t worry that he is not registered this season.There is no need to register a player when you know he will be out for some time. It is only advisable for you to offer him more playing time more especially that he is a foreigner this side.
Again, his injury is healing and he will come back sooner than later. The aim is to keep him this side even when he might not renew his contract but chances are he will be with the team for some time because they have shown much value on him,” explained the wife of former Zebras midfielder, Mogogi Gabonamong
RECONCILED? Former Zebras Coach tshosane and former BFA President Sebego
In the build up to the Botswana Football Association (BFA) National Executive Committee elections, former Senior National Team Coach, Stanley Tshosane had threatened to sue presidential aspirant, Tebogo Sebego, after the latter made suggestions on national radio that the performance of the national team was appalling during the former’s tenure.
Tshosane, who claimed reputational damage, said a number allegations made by Sebego were baseless and unfounded. Sources say Tshosane was livid that Sebego tarnished his reputation and integrity when he deposited averments on national broadcasters to the effect that the national team performance had reached its lowest ebb before the appointment of Brighton Peter Butler.
The Englishman came to supplant Tshosane just a year after The Zebras returned from their maiden African Cup of Nations edition of 2012.Tshosane was therefore ready to draw first blood and demanded retraction, further threatening a legal route in the event Sebego did not act as prescribed.
According to sources close the developments, Sebego however demonstrated leadership qualities and apologized, letting bygones be bygones. Sources say the former BFA administrators have smoked a peace pipe especially that Sebego’s ambition of becoming president disappeared a fortnight ago when he lost again to MacLean Letshwiti in a tightly contested election.
The animosity between Tshosane and Sebego first played out in 2013 when Sebego’s administration sacked the former coach, giving one simple explanation that he was failing to inspire the collective belief within the national squad.
It is said that Tshosane never forgave the past administration for firing him especially that he was on sick leave at the time the letter was delivered to him by the then Chief Executive Officer, Keith Masters. Tshosane was fresh from penning a new deal when he was terminated. At the time he sought legal redress claiming prejudice.
It is not yet clear if Tshosane and the BFA administration have ironed out their differences. When his situation grew precarious in 2013, he felt he was sabotaged by the people he trusted.But sources say the Jackalas number 1 born coach now enjoys a healthy relationship with the association and that is why there is talk suggesting his possible return.
Tshosane was not available for comment as his phone rang unanswered while Sebego refused altogether to share details saying; “I cannot respond to allegations, I mean we need to be respected, this is just senseless.”
Stan, who is now over 60 years, was first appointed to the position of Botswana Senior National Team Coach in 2008, following a short spell as caretaker coach. In 2012, he led the Zebras to their first appearance in AFCON 2012 co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
A year later, in October, after BFA new leadership assumed power and he was sacked for failing to re-write his 2012 success football story. Critics then suggested he was only offered the job because the football association could not afford to hire a better reputable “name’’.
Stan had previously been assistant to the Serbian mentor, Veselin Jelušić, as well as English manager, Colwyn Rowe, for the national team.
Whilst working as an assistant for the national team, he had also been manager of the Botswana Defence Force XI (BDF XI) for a lengthy spell. Stan had also played for BDF XI in his glory days as a football player.