No sooner has the final announcement of candidates vying for the Botswana Football Association (BFA) posts declared, than a delicate problem and dilemma to resolve regarding the administrators who should stand for the third most influential position of the Vice President arose.
It seems that MacLean Letshwiti, the BFA President, endures longer nights whenever the realization strikes him that two of his trusted heavy weights will contest against each other in the coming National Executive Committee elections slated for July. This publication has been reliably informed that Masego Ntshingane and Maokaneng Bontshetse have made bold statements that they are eager for the Vice Presidency post and if push comes to shove, they will definitely draw battle lines for the right candidate to win.
However, Letshwiti is asked to arrange a tete-a-tete with the two administrators. He is requested to break a deal for whoever is willing to retreat.This post of the of the second Vice President is currently within the hands of Ntshingane after the football federation decided to sack one Segolame Ramotlhwa, on grounds that he failed to preserve the decaying the image of the National Executive Committee a year ago.Ntshingane’s rise to BFA stardom was accelerated during the 2016 election campaign.
He won the additional member seat with Tebogo Sebego as the leader of the team. It is now believed that he recently found a healthy nourishment under Letshwiti and has consequently dumped the former BFA boss. However, not everybody believes this ‘theory’ and it is why Maokaneng does not want to budge. On the other hand, Ntshingane is said to be thrilled by the prospect of becoming a VP and it would seem his candidature is set to be a two-pronged assault on Tebogo Sebego’s team orchestrated by the ‘godfathers’ of football.
Certain football soldiers under Letshwiti’s leadership are believed to be ensuring that he groups high profile names to solidify his candidacy in running for the post.All the while, it is maintained that Ntshingane does not mind stepping down for Botshetse, but all that is still guess work and nobody knows what will happen thereafter.Should Ntshingane continue with his conscious, there will be no doubt that these coming elections are going to be a straight fight between two factions of the association. Bontshetse will be prepared to face seemingly insurmountable odds.
However, the former parliamentary candidate arguably could win a public vote for the Vice Presidency, having obtained countrywide popularity for his exploits on the field particularly at the Francistown region.Bontshetse’s early entry into the race was expected to remove the threat of virtual coronation for Letshwiti, who does not want to declare whether he wants Bontshetse or Ntshingane.
When asked about his ambition late last year, Bontshetse said, “Well I have received so many calls to stand for one of the VP posts, and I can tell you I’m still considering it. I am also looking at the reputation of BFA right now and I do not like it because people are factionalists but I think football deserves better. In recent years, I have seen the image of BFA fluctuating and as I speak to many people in football-players and coaches-so many of those people have told me something has to be done.”
The platform afforded by a tilt at the executive committee might help his cause or it could backfire if Ramotlhwa, who has backed many football administrators from either side, campaigns against him on that front.
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AFRICAâ€™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 Worldâ€™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.
â€śAfrica 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.â€ť
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.
â€śThe sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africaâ€™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.â€ť
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.
â€śPolicymakers 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.â€ť
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. â€śFortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.â€ť
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. â€śFirst 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.â€ť
â€śPolicymakers 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.â€ť