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.
A study conducted by the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA), has revealed that a turnaround strategy is needed to make an elite league body, Botswana Premier League (BPL), a profitable entity.
The study piloted in June and completed in December of last year, depicts a picture of possible improvement where a total of 16 premier league clubs were examined and studied on how they conduct their football related businesses.
It comes out that 54% of premier league club revenue streams are from general sponsorship while a paltry 2% is generated from gate takings. A further 11% of profit is from broadcasting rights and that remains abnormal in a game that should be well known to be propelled by rich television agreement worldwide.
Moreover, BDF XI, Gilport Lions, Extension Gunners, Miscellaneous, Morupule Wanderers , BR Highlanders, Police XI and Prisons XI have all demonstrated a heavy reliance and dependence on sponsors, prices and monthly grants, while the quartet of Jwaneng Galaxy, Orapa United, Township Rollers and Gaborone United have all managed to source revenue streams outside the common and well known sponsor outlets.
Of all the 16 premier league clubs, Jwaneng Galaxy emerges as the top club that is able to attract moneyed sponsors. The study shows that the Jwaneng outfit rakes about P 5 million in sponsorship revenues, followed by their ‘rival brothers’ Orapa United who receive an approximation of P 3 million per football season.
The two clubs are at the fore front because of the footsteps and presence of Debswana in their leadership radar.Coming third is Security Systems whose purse get around P 2.5M from the parent company, GU is on fourth spot at around P 1.5M. Township Rollers is on a distant fifth position with about P 1M per season of individual sponsorship.
The rest of the clubs receive services in kind such as accommodation, playing kits, training kits, fuel and water and soft drinks. This further underlines the struggle to make profit as footballing team in the elite league, the study highlights.
However, from the report, it emerges that only Township Rollers has the capacity to make profit from a good football season. Much of the club revenues are from the sale of its replica jerseys. The club as powered by Jagdish Shah sells about 3000 replicas at a value of P 350 000.It is the only club that sells merchandise from sport chain stores (Studio 88) and according to the report, it is a reliable indicator that shows fans engagement level with the club.
While it emerges from this study that ticketing revenue has a low weight on club’s revenues varying from 2-9% depending on the club, Rollers again is the only club making profit from this front.
But to further underscore the issue of lack of business sense in the elite league, it comes to the fore that there is low fan attendance per home game and this is the major cause of low ticketing revenue.
Gunners however top the table, averaging a total of 5000 supporters per game. Gunners is followed by Rollers at 4000 followers while Miscellaneous comes third with 1700 fans per home game. On average, it shows that 75% of clubs have a fan base while the remaining 25% have absolute nothing.
The report further indicates that many of Botswana’s elite clubs are experiencing financial difficulties because of the model of ownership. “Clubs legal entity form is not homogenous and 25% of them are owned by the government,” the report shows.
The report therefore recommends that clubs should standardized ownership models as this will lose dependency on government.“Furthermore, legal conditions will be the same for all clubs and transparency of the BPL will be enhanced,” the report curtailed.
However, BFA says it knows nothing about the report but one member of the executive committee says the association is addressing all problems bedevilling Botswana’s game.
The member is adamant that all administrative loopholes of the game will be resolved and it is why FIFA project time for change is still on going at regional level.
8 – Numbers of clubs that make financial losses 4 – Clubs do not depend on gate takings 1 – club is self-sustaining
Nikola Kavazovic, Township Rollers’ pragmatic Head Coach, is said to have scuppered a move that was to see Botswana international Magokolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele joining the club in this football calendar.
Instead, the player proceeded to join Limpopo province based outfit, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila F.C. carrying a long face.
It is reported that Shah, the club’s investor, had wanted to sign the left footed midfielder to bolster an attacking front but Kavazovic flatly refused to sanction the move, adding that his squad is solid and strong even without Tsotso Ngele.
According to reports, Ngele was to be offered a contract with a salary scale of P 40 000. Shah believed, and still holds the same view, that Ngele’s name is a powerhouse that was to further market the team and increase its brand awareness in Botswana’s business community.
However, Kavazovic is said to have told some members of the technical team that it is always difficult to coach and manage players who are favoured by Shah.
Ngele is reported to be nostalgic and would want to play for a home team in the stature of Rollers. As things stand, he is not enjoying his stay at Thohoyandou and it explains why his appearances at the club are an oddity.
Ngele had a successful season with Roller in 2012 where he won the Mascom Top 8 Cup under Mike Sithole. He was expected to be guided by Kavazovic to help mount a serious challenge for this year’s silver ware.
Rollers on its own have reshuffled their attacking options over a period of time, losing darling striker Joel Mogorosi to Gaborone United while another robust striker Teenage Orebonye was poached by clubs abroad.
Before the arrival of Kavazovic, Rollers’ technical team bitterly complained last season about the lack of productivity from their attackers but they hoped that the ever-consistent Edwin Moalosi and Ngele, aided perhaps by Segolame who remains in the books, can fire an upturn.
All the while, it is said Ngele will still force his move to Popa and there is hope that his personality and experience will eventually serve to inspire the rest of the attacking options, most notably the younger players like Kago Monyake.
Rollers have always sought to have leaders in their squad, players who have won big games and can bolster the collective belief. Their signing of Mogorosi few seasons ago was rooted, in part, by what he could bring away from the field.
Rollers still wish that Ngele could cut his stay and further negotiate with Kavazovic to sign the player and bring a country wide spread inspiration and determination he possessed after carrying the club to its inaugural top 8 edition in 2012.
That year he won the golden boot playing as a second striker. When he left Rollers, we went straight to command a starting line up with Platinum Stars. A year later, he won the Telkom knockout player of the tournament.
Some members within Rollers fold argue that Shah knew right from the start that he was not going to be able to control Kavazovic and his wishes of signing Tsotso might as well disappear on the furthest horizon.
Remnant of the historic Africa Cup of Nations squad of 2012, Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele and Botswana’s first-choice goal keeper, Kabelo Dambe, will never embody the future of the Zebras as long as Adel Amrouche is at the helm, WeekendSport has established.
The duo made this confession in the squad secret WhatsApp group seen by this publication, expressing concern and antipathy about playing for the squad heavily polarised by the coach.
It turns out that the coach has players he favours and prefers, many of who appear in the starting line-up as a long lasting promise to be signed under his stable. The aim is to ultimately recruit them to far flung clubs and earn a commission.
Ngele who remains the only player to have scored the Zebras goal (in open play) at the 2012 edition has endured a rocky affair with the coach.
Not much has been established as to why the affair is in tatters but sources claim that it stretched to a point where Amrouche confronted Ngele’s former coaches at Black Leopards to discuss possible options of side-lining him. The idea was to frustrate the player and kill his confidence as the only player Zebras looked up to.
Ngele, under former coach Peter Butler, was named the squad captain but under Amrouche, he has played cameo roles in World Cup and AFCON qualifiers. Ngele has made three appearances and came once as a substitute in all the 10 games Amrouche managed.
Ngele was hoping for his own great leap forward in an effort to end his nightmare and play for the Zebras especially after earning playing time with his new club, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila.
Do this day, Ngele has made more than 35 appearances for the Zebras since earning his debut in 2009. Away from The Zebras stage, Ngele made significant contributions at Platinum Stars, the first team he signed his professional contract with. In 67 games, he scored 19 times.
Amrouche’s insistency and promise to make a loud impact in this year’s qualifiers did not bear fruit. Part of the blame is shoved on Township Rollers stopper, Kabelo Dambe. He is accused to have failed to stand strong for Zebras and shipped in simpler goals that cost the team to book a flight to Cameroon next year.
A goal against Algeria on home soil and a goal by Zimbabwe last month could have never gone through had he positioned himself better, critics claim.
Dambe who has more than 44 caps and played all Zebras games under Amrouche feels hard done and had hoped the coach and the nation would protect him. He feels the ambition of the country to qualify mirrors a tomorrow that could never come because of his mistakes.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) General Manager of National Teams, Monnakgotla Mojaki when pressed for interview failed to provide details about the future of the two stars.
He expressed concern that he was never hands on when the squad played the qualifiers. This according to Mojaki, was the case because the coach had barred him from mingling with the players.
“I am sorry I cannot assist you with anything, I know nothing and remember I have not spoken to anybody since I was asked not to come to camp,” he shared.
Both Dambe and Ngele are not only equally unhappy but are also equal in age; both are 30 years and have played for Platinum Stars at one point in their careers.
However, there is information to the effect that the duo made a promise to return one day, and that is when the coach has parted company with the association.