Botswana Football Association (BFA) National Executive Committee (NEC) last week took an affirmative resolution to conclude the 2019 /2020 football season, ultimately crowning Jwaneng Galaxy as BTC Champions.
Masitaoka and Sua Flamingos were subsequently promoted to the elite league after they were declared Debswana First Division South and North Champions respectively. Meanwhile Molepolole City Stars, Miscellaneous and TAFIC are relegated to the lower division.
The move by the BFA to declare the 2019/2020 season followed a recommendation from BFA Medical committee, which had been mandated to prepare the report regarding the possibility of return of action for 2019/2020 football season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Medical Committee is made up of 12 members under the stewardship of Lone Bogwasi as the Chairperson, Mpho Bogopa as the Vice Chairperson, Kaelo Kgosiyang as the Secretary, the current BFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mfolo Mfolo, Tsoletso Magang representing BFA NEC (also a medical committee overseer) and Boago Gabontshiwe from Women Football League amongst the others.
According to the BFA Medical Committee report, the most ideal time to return is when a vaccine has been discovered or proven effective treatment, however the Medical Committee is quite aware of the fact that return to football may not be possible to achieve anytime soon as it may take several months or years to achieve.
However according to the report returning may be possible with a series of tests. “Without these, a safe return can be possible with a series COVID -19 testing hence we advise that we exercise patience in observing the disease evolution and in dealing with the matter bearing in mind that we have limited testing capacity nationally to allow a compulsory regular pre-match COVID-19 testing for all teams,” reads the report.
The medical committee recommended that upon the resumption of the football activity, each team should have a trained medical person (should always be present at team trainings/games) thus, the said personnel should be a doctor or physiotherapist who is understanding of the country’s limitations, the ideal person should have a basic first aid certificate and have undertook the proposed BFA COVID-19 infection control training.
The report further suggests that serial COVID-19 testing done weekly is mandatory to aid the daily screening in ensuring a safe participation of the athletes.
“If the testing is not financially feasible and BFA NEC rules to resume activity; based on the low local transmission rate of COVID-19 Pre Competition Medical Assessment (PCMA) and rely on daily screening which is only 60 percent effective,” the committee recommends.
Upon the compliance of the teams during the training sessions, each team in the initial two weeks shall divide training seasons into groups of two or more which will train in different sessions to minimize contact and ensure social distancing.
“Daily screening of players before training. Screening should be done by the medic responsible for the team who undergone the BFA COVID-19 infection control training and the person designated to conduct the screening should wear protective clothing (face mask, plastic apron/ coat and gloves),” indicates the BFA medical report.
According to some of the recommendations by the committee, during pre-match the use of dressing rooms were to be prohibited hence a case by case basis scenario will be employed for the use of ablutions inside the dressing room.
The report further indicate that teams will use designated stands as an alternative to dressing rooms. During match day, the committee suggested that the games be played behind closed doors without supporters until further notice.
“Disinfection of the stadium is to be done on corridors, rails, stands that will be used by teams and attendants, team benches, goal post and any area that might be in near contact with match attendants. This should be done 3-4 hours prior to and after every match while fumigation is to be done after facility has been in contact with a COVID -19 infected individual,” notes the report.
Meanwhile the report further indicate that, failure to comply, no team shall be allowed to participate in the league. In addition, the committee recommended that league games be played in tournament style, with a maximum of two matches in one stadium per match and there should be at least 2-3 hours in between to allow for disinfection before other teams can use the facility.
The negotiations involving Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) over elite league sponsorship have suffered a setback as the local brewer this week took what it termed a ‘difficult’ decision to shut down operations.
This effectively means that football sponsorship is back in its dark corner as all efforts to go back to the field take another nasty twist in the midst of ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is regrettable that this latest total ban on alcohol sales has resulted in the suspension of KBL operations, which will remain in place for as long as the alcohol ban persists. KBL continues its efforts to engage government on this critical issue, which is having an enormous impact on the industry and its extensive value chain,” the company explained.
Although not proudly maintained at Lekidi Football Centre, the company is said to have abandoned talks on explanations revolving around ‘lack of funds.’In the initial agreement, sources say that it was settled that KBL would sponsor the Botswana Football League at a tune of P30million for a period of three years.
It is maintained that the deal was to be relooked and redefined to fit the sponsorship modalities of today’s game.Highly placed sources speaking with this publication however state that BFA is assisting BFL to cajole other companies to come on board as football is about to return to the field.
Top of the list is ABSA Bank who have remained afloat despite the impacts of the virus. The bank is said to be committed to football but sources say it will take a considerable amount of persuasion to see the bank increasing sponsorship.
KBL, in the first phase, were willing to commit without much difficulties but after the storm of COVID-19, the company was to take a back seat and played a waiting game. They reasoned that the continuous lockdown the country has gone under has left them with little income than expected.
But according to sources, KBL is still expressing pleasure to engage with the association again and will further illustrate their willingness to come on board as soon as the corona virus situation subsides.It is said KBL has requested further information regarding sponsorship value from the association and once satisfied, negotiations will resume.
However, some administrators within the National Executive Committee believe KBL’s parting message does not inspire confidence. “KBL‘s phase is over, they gave us hope but it is difficult to keep track of them, COVID-19 has affected every plan,” one member shared.
At the close last season, way before the corona virus impacted the country negatively; BFA revealed that it had long compiled its situation analysis of sponsorship value for the local game. It was understood that the property that is the Premier League could be purchased at a value P 15 million over 43 premier league games.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) President, Maclean Letshwiti.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) is engaged in protracted talks to stage a mini-league as lee-way to ascend into a proper football season by August this year.
The idea is to keep players fit and all football structures functioning as time pressure mounts.Informants say the idea is discussed at the competition office and will soon be forwarded to the National Executive Committee (NEC) for further deliberations.
This therefore means that all leagues across the country will be played for only one round until August where a new full football season will resume. Football has never returned to the field for almost 10 months now due to the corona virus.
The situation on the ground looks gloomy as COVID-19 cases continue to rise with each passing day. Football clubs are also feeling the pinch with Sua Flamingos becoming the latest victims. The club has been forced to suspend operations as players and members of the technical team test positive for the deadly virus.
While playing a mini-league is a last resort, it is mentioned that no team will be promoted or relegated after the completion of the games.Sources say it is better than folding arms when teams are continuing to pay players without kicking the ball.
The idea of the mini-league therefore means that there will be no prize money but teams will likely survive with grants from identifiable sponsors. Already, the Botswana Football League (BFL) has secured a P 5 million television deal for over three years.
The BFL think tanks contemplate to augment the television deal with sponsorship grants from ABSA bank. According to information, this will keep the league and its secretariat running until everything gets back to normalcy.
“It is true we are thinking to stage a mini league looking at what we have but this is still an infant idea, we are discussing and we will engage NEC going forward,” a member of the association shared.BFA leadership finds itself stuck between a rock and a hard place as the motion to kick start the league in February was shot down by the assembly in October of last year.
The movers of the motion argued that high temperatures usually recorded in the South of Sahara desert negatively affects player performance and their overall health conditions. However, there were intentions to commence the league at the earliest possible time but the task force together with the Ministry of Sport wanted players to be tested and football fields be fumigated regularly to avoid spreading the virus.
Early this week, the BFL leadership engaged the Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) to give an update on how football will return. However, this publication cannot adequately establish the detailed plan of the league.
Boteti based side, Orapa United were quick to snatch back Zebras left-back, Lesenya Ramoraka, tying him with a two-year deal after he was released this week by TS Galaxy.
The 26 year-old defender left The Ostriches in 2018 to join Highlands Park who later sold their status last year to renowned football agent Tim Sukazi of TS Galaxy. Ramoraka’s contract was to end this year July.
At the time of the sale, the team then opted not to register him for another season hoping to register him in the January transfer but his injury kept him out for longer than anticipated, forcing TS Galaxy to release him as he was free to start to negotiate with any team that may be interested in him.
“We have signed Ramoraka after assessing his injury and he is in Orapa as we speak doing his rehab.The injury is not bad and we expect him to resume light training anytime from mid- February,” said Kabo William, the club spokesperson.
Ramoraka left an impressive mark at Highlands Park where he played 29 games in all competitions and netting only once. Lee, as he is known in football circles, is one of the most trusted left backs in the country and has been a vital part of the Zebras with his absence felt at the national team.
“The team had wanted to keep him but they were just concerned that his injury was taking long to heal and they opted to release him as you cannot have a player out for too long more especially who is a foreigner,” said a source.
“He had survived the changes at the team and you have to also note that the coach who brought him, Owen Da Gama also just joined TS Galaxy and he is one of the players that he trusted and used so it is not a matter of performance but they couldn’t afford to have him on the side-lines for too long.”
Orapa United have also announced the signing of other players that include; Thabiso Boti formerly with Notwane, Kutlo Kolagano from City Eagles, Galagwe Moyana who was released by Township Rollers, Kagisano Mungu from TAFIC and the team promoted Phemelo Pushudi from their development side.
The Ostriches have released goalkeeper Bophelo Kealeboga who has signed a 2 year deal with Sua Flamingos, Mothusi Johnson who retraced his steps back to Gaborone United, Baboloki Makhura and Abdullah Hamisi.