In a country battling the spread of corona virus from all angles, the football fraternity in Botswana is however, nearing cross roads. Indications are that the popular sport might not return anytime soon given the high standards of health guidelines the game has to satisfy.
Since the beginning of last week, health officials, Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Footballer’s Union of Botswana are engaging in protracted deliberations of kick- starting the football leagues around the country.
The game has gone into lockdown since early March as the country went into curfew to curb the spread of the pandemic. However, this week administrators of the game have needed to outline their plans for the future, and its proven easier said than done.
Conditions in Botswana and by extension Africa are peculiar. Teams, prior to the spread of the virus, were struggling to make ends meet and given the expectations facing them, it is highly unlikely that the game will return soon.
Sources highlight that, as part of the preparatory guidelines, clubs are anticipated to conduct tests for their players, a task too difficult to execute.
Public health authorities world-wide have been concerned that given the players’ direct contact with each other and the close interactions with the general public, in addition to their regular travels, they have been super accelerators of the virus.
In the eyes of health authorities, part of the impetus for testing players is that they are quick spreaders who unknowingly spread to people.
However, BFA and other state holders are mindful of the scarcity of corona virus testing equipment in the country. They believe that this will need government buy-in as priority is given to those who came from highly infected areas and those showing symptoms.
Clubs are also expected to use two sets of similar kits for the entire 90 minutes of the game. One kit for the first half and the other in the second stanza. As things stand, no team in the elite league can manage the situation. As if it is not enough, players are expected to stay in one place until the league comes to an end.
Botswana clubs have failed dismally to cater for players who are in camp and the looming expectation from health specialists is too much to bear. Before lockdown, there were 10 games left to play. The Union’s Secretary General, Kgosana Masaseng says their input is dependent on the advice of health professionals.
“We are in the process of sharing notes with the association and health authorities, but bear in mind that our contribution will also be guided by what health authorities want,” he shared. It is said that BFA is looking at three options currently on its table. Each decision is informed by facts and scenarios and one is independent on the other.
The first option, BFA says is to stop the league where it is and crown the team that occupies the first place, which is Jwaneng Galaxy. Furthermore, three teams lying in the bottom of the table will be relegated and teams on pole positions from Debswana First Division north and south will be promoted.
By all accounts, the association feels it is a controversial option to undertake but also equitable for the sake of progress. The second available possibility is to stretch the season and consequently change the football calendar.
“There has been a shelved proposal that recommends the change of our season from the usual August-May calendar to February- November because of health reasons,” BFA President MacLean Letshwiti said.
This therefore means that football might have to wait until the end of state of emergency and later be stretched to the February-November calendar. This football season was considered also because of adverse hot conditions unfavourable to the playing conditions in Botswana.
As things stand, a country like Zambia has kept CAF posted that they are likely to return to this football calendar after the virus subsides.
The last possibility is to nullify all the leagues. This was – and continues to be – the last resort. Across all the global leagues, the domestic campaign has only 10 matches left, which could, in theory, be completed in a space of five weeks.
Given that backdrop, why would anyone – ulterior motives accepted – want to get rid of the work put in over the previous seven months and pretend it never happened? It is a question BFA should ask themselves as they ponder on the future.
Newly formed Botswana Football League (BFL) has shortlisted Olebile Sikwane and Solomon Ramochotlhwane for the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) post, with the duo having been interviewed this week and now awaiting their fate.
Information passed to WeekendSport indicates that BFL has engaged a certain Human Resource firm to screen the best possible candidate.
It is further mentioned that there was a third candidate, Harry Koata, who had to withdraw primarily on issues bordering on principle and conflict of interest.
Koata is an employee of Masitaoka FC of Molepolole, occupying the post of General Manager (GM) and his boss Aryl Ralobala has been elevated as the Chairman of the board where Masitaoka are bonafide members.
However, sources say the two administrators showed great command of corporate language and managed to put together a compelling football argument.
It is further stated that the football league board will have a hard time in choosing the right candidate given the stiffness of the competition between the two.
With a number of blunders and past failures at the hands of the CEOs at Lekidi, the panel is said to have made a tremendous recruitment exercises and thorough screening.
With that said, adjudicators argued that they did not want to start trying out old combinations and a decision to recommend two names is seen to be in the interest of dousing flames from the eyes of the public around how BFA and its structures manage its affairs.
However, a careful perusal of Ramochotlhwane‘s credentials speak about a football administrator who is well versed on either side of the game. While it is quick to remember that the newly voted Green Lovers Chairman, a Serowe based outfit, is a relatively higher influencer on the political landscape of Botswana football, Ramochotlhwane is said to be commanding respect wherever he goes without ever demanding it.
He stands as an administrator with acumen of coaching and a CEO Guru. His technical and administrative version of the game springs out, and if chosen, he will, not disappoint.
Many are believed to retain admiration for him largely because he is not corrupted by the football politics. He stood for BFA elections last year for the post of Vice Presidency. He however was not successful at the poll.
While this is a plus for him, the other advantage in choosing Ramochotlhwane- who also holds Masters in finance- is that he has vast experience in leadership and has a proven record of giving a push to a new company.
Often times, the CEO of the league faces a stubborn board of governors when making crucial decisions. Can he manage? The question lingers on.
Solly however holds the same vision with that of the President of the association, Mac Lean Letswiti, in turning football into a business. Should premier league genuinely buy the idea, there are no misgivings nor any denials that the man will not disappoint.
Over a period of 12 years (2007-2019), Solly attended courses under the association and he arose best as both a technical and administrative expert. He will need minimum supervision.
On the other hand, Olebile Sikwane is also seen as a corporate leader in financial industry with vast experience in media and sports. Sikwane has applied for the job and is hoping to get the position to implement the board vision.
“I have ambitions, I am young and competent. I have most of the attributes but let’s respect the process. I have faith in the process and the people doing the recruitment,” he said.
Sikwane has worked for several international media houses and leading sports firms in South Africa. He is a well-known Agent and publisher. Upon return to Botswana, he briefly worked as General Manager at Gaborone United and turned around the fortunes of the club.
Last year, he won the position of the Vice Chairman position at Mochudi Centre Chiefs. He is therefore part of the crew tasked with transforming the once popular club bringing it back to its glory days.
Whether he will be chosen as the best candidate is open for debate, but his proficiency remains crucial as BFL is faced with a taxing and tricky situation of re-negotiating with sponsors to re-start the league post corona scare.
A long-winded case between the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and one branding and marketing company, Fresh Brands, has finally come to a crushing end with the former winning a legal battle following the court’s pronouncement that there was glaring lack of proof and evidence from the company involved.
Fresh Brands had sought legal redress, claiming that they played a crucial role in negotiating with Orange in 2018, on behalf of BFA, for the network giants to sponsor the famous FA Cup at a value P 12 000 000.
This is the action in which the company claimed an amount of P 1 200 000 from BFA, who are the apex body responsible for administering local football. Fresh Brands, from the court papers, argued that they are entitled to 10% commission. However, it came to the fore that the claim was based on an oral agreement between the two parties and nothing more.
In arguing their case, Fresh Brands called two witnesses, one a former employee of Orange Botswana and the other being their former employee. Moreover, Fresh Brands, had intended on calling two other firm witnesses being the Chief Executive Officer of Orange and another person who seemed to be involved in football affairs but not formally employed by any of the parties.
All the while, the court found out that on June 6th, 2017, both BFA and Fresh Brands entered into a written agreement where the company was to provide certain services to the association. Amongst the services expected was Brand Development, Management Services, Marketing Communications, Event Management, Public Relations Management, Sponsorship and Corporate Social Responsibility programs.
In terms of the agreement, Fresh Brands were to be paid a monthly retainer fee of P 20 000 including VAT. Furthermore, the complainant was to be paid 8-10% commission on the self-initiated sponsorship deals that have been approved by the association.
For all purposes of record keeping, the contract was to run for a period of 36 months. It has also come to the fore that in terms of schedule thereto, the commencement date was 23rd of February 2017 and the expiry date being the 23rd of February 2020. This is despite the fact that the agreement itself was signed on the 6th of June 2017.
However, the court established that during the course of the agreement, Fresh Brands became engaged in soliciting sponsorship for the association. Of particular importance was the sponsorship for the FA Cup which was being negotiated from Orange Botswana. The court records that certain meetings pursuant to the same sponsorship as well as presentations were held between Fresh Brands and Orange Botswana.
Later, it would appear that there was a back and forth between Orange Botswana and Fresh Brands and when a certain official of Orange by the name of Sandra Moreau left for her home country France, the whole sponsorship process was stalled. Court records that Moreau was the main driver of the entire process, representing Orange Botswana.
However, it turns out that the association sent a communiqué to Fresh Brands in August of 2017, giving them a 30 day notice to terminate the agreement aforesaid. The association argued that the termination was on account of financial constraint.
Moreover, the association promised to engage with Fresh Brands on need-be basis and details of such agreement were to be further discussed. BFA further bind themselves that they will settle the outstanding payment due to Fresh Brands. Of paramount importance, the court found out that at the time of termination, the Orange Sponsorship negotiations were not concluded but stalled.
It also does not appear anywhere that payments from the association to Fresh Brands were made regarding the efforts made in respect of securing the sponsorship. However, the company was paid all that was due to it, including the retainer fee of P 20 000 per month.
The company had argued that they were rather stunned by the turn of events when BFA and Orange entered into a sponsorship agreement and whose massive launch was conducted and announced in 2018. The companies cried foul that they were cheated along the way and strongly argued that they entered into oral agreement with the association after the termination was done.
In determining the case, the court had to rely on the fact of the existence of an oral agreement as alleged by Fresh Brands. It came to one conclusion; Fresh Brands failed to provide enough proof with regards to the oral agreement.
What in fact happened is that Fresh Brands felt entitled that they did a lot of work towards securing sponsorship before the termination of the contract was done.
The court states that Fresh Brands should have found a way within the terminated agreement of getting rewarded in respect of the work done to pursue the Orange sponsorship, but the company chose to allege an oral agreement.
Furthermore, the court said that the company failed to pursue the attendance of Orange CEO Dr. Benon and one Fobby Radipotsane who could corroborate his allegation of an oral agreement. The court said that was flimsy on the side of Fresh Brands in view of the fact that the same witnesses had been subpoenaed.
Fresh Brands was therefore forced to agree that without its witnesses, the case automatically falls off and consequently dismissed with costs.
Spot checks conducted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) authorities have altogether dismissed Botswana Football Association (BFA) club licensing regulatory frame work after striking awareness that demands and obligations carried were much higher than the standards and expectations of the Botswana game.
The decision by CAF effectively means that the local federation is compelled to invalidate the licenses given to elite clubs and start again from square one.
Coming at the invitation of the association two weeks ago, WeekendSport learned that CAF authorities have raised eyebrows over the position paper BFA possessed about its licensing structure.
The CAF officials were first surprised by the composition and make-up of the two bodies assembled to run and administer the terms of the license. The licensor- which is BFA- was requested to establish two bodies which were to aid in speeding and simplifying the processes of club licensing.
The first group is known as First Instance Body (FIB), specifically established to take binding decision and produce score cards in relation to the performance of the club. The second structure is called Appeals Board where clubs are expected to query their marks as given by the FIB. The two bodies were however encouraged to work independent from each other to produce uncompromised and optimum results.
However, CAF officials recommended that the two Botswana bodies be dissolved and a new establishment built on the premise of relevant qualifications. It said that CAF frowned upon the qualities of the people who made the composition of the bodies.
Moreover, CAF advised that clubs must be engaged when the association drafts club licensing regulations. The authorities explained that the expectation must meet the reality of the Botswana game and not over pass it and run the risk of raising the bar like it is the case now.
It comes to pass that some clubs were heavily red marked for failing to identify stadia as their property. This cannot be allowed to pass as all Botswana clubs do not own stadiums.
Moreover, some clubs were disqualified on the grounds that their coaches lacked required qualification to coach at the elite league. CAF argued that this needs to be re-looked into after it was realized that some of the coaching courses that were conducted in Botswana were not valid.
Newly appointed Chairperson of the Botswana Football League (BFL), Aryl Ralobala of Masitaoka FC confirms that the completed licensing requirement be invalidated and it should be restarted. He says their decision springs to life after careful consideration brought by the CAF body.
“Indeed the club licensing requirement must start afresh, some things were not done properly and it is only fair to work fairly with the clubs,” he said.
It therefore means that the Botswana processes were done and executed in bad faith and hence observers express misgivings about BFA’s blatant disregard of laid down procedures.
Clubs aspiring to play football at the highest level must fulfil aspects in 5 areas; legal, sporting, financial, infrastructure and administration.The global objectives of the Club Licensing Procedure were defined by FIFA, the world football governing body, during its Congress which was held in Munich in 2006.
The FIFA Executive Committee adopted the FIFA Club Licensing Regulations on the 29th October 2007 and it came into force on the 1st of January 2008.However, the CAF Club Licensing Regulations were approved on 19th January 2012, and came into force effective 1st March 2012.
A period of introduction and soft implementation started immediately after the CAF Club Licensing regulations came into force and the Club Licensing Procedure entered into full implementation phase for the first time during the 2017 CAF Inter-clubs Competitions Season. The implementation of the Club Licensing Procedure must be respected by all CAF Member Associations, CAF has advised.
BFA started to implement some of the regulations late in 2017-18 but some decisions began to attract media and public backlash. Some clubs like Notwane, Sharps Shooting Stars and Extension Gunners were docked points as a form of soft punishment.