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Friday, 19 April 2024

P120m BFA Academy dream shattered

Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership is devastated after Ineos Group Ltd, a British multinational chemicals company, somersaulted on their initial promise to build a multi-million Pula football academy and instead travelled up north to pitch camp in Ivory Coast.

This publication has learnt that Ineos Group which had signed contracts with the association was at a very advanced stage to erect a P120 million state-of-the-art academy in a plot located behind the national stadium in Gaborone.

According to close sources, Ineos however grew frustrated by Botswana’s lengthy and haphazard processes and procedures that led them nowhere and only served to waste more time. Ineos were reportedly irked by the delay and dumped BFA before the end of last year.

Things took a nasty twist in April of 2018 when Botswana leadership reshuffled the cabinet. Ministry of Sport faces therefore changed as Thapelo Olopeng was replaced by Tshekedi Khama.

It is said that under Olopeng, processes were fast tracked as the cabinet was briefed, and endorsed the development. Things started moving at a snail’s space after Khama took office. It emerges that the then Minister had to freeze every move after reports came thick and fast that some National Executive Committee members were almost secret shareholders of the academy.

The matter was so volatile that it reached the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) offices for further investigations.

While that seemingly turned off Ineos group, the straw that would broke the camel’s back was the realisation that some appointed architects had dragged the association to court for failing to adhere to agreed terms.

However, one high ranking BFA official said that indeed Ineos group has abandoned talks and have up and left.

“I do not want to dwell much on the story of corona virus effects, but what I can tell you is that there was a lot of petty talks surrounding this academy, and this was never going to take us anywhere. We were dealing with professionals and they are gone,” the NEC member said.

It was indicated that BFA was at a stage of re- engaging the British chemical engineer turned financier and industrialist, Sir James Ratcliffe to start pumping money into the project that was to run for a period of two years.

Ratcliffe had frequented the country on three occasions, precisely at Lekidi Football Centre, since MacLean Letshwiti assumed the BFA power seat in 2016.

The main reason for the visits, WeekendSport had learnt was to discuss setting up the academy as well as to assess the possible piece of land where the academy would be set up.

The state-of-the-art facility, according to the site layout included-among others-accommodation for up to 80 people; indoor training facility; fully equipped gym; Restaurant for both academy and public meals. High tech media conference centre that can seat 80, 3 x full size top of range FIFA approved turf fields, artificial turf 5-a-side fields, boardroom and office space and on site medical services (doctor and physiotherapists).

In addition, the project will help upgrade the netball facilities as well as install a multi-sport zone for public use.The facility was not only to be used for football but was to be a commercial structure which would be used to generate money to run itself.

BFA said the objectives of the academy was to provide young footballers from Botswana an opportunity to transform into better footballers at a world class facility in their home country.

Furthermore, it was to allow the best players to travel to Lausanne, Switzerland- a country that also houses the FIFA headquarters- to complete a further two years of academy training and education that will eventually avail them the opportunity to become professional footballers in Europe and elsewhere.

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Sport

Gloves off as Minister Rakgare blasts Zakhem, Jagdish

9th April 2024

Minister Tumiso Rakgare, the Youth, Gender, Sport, and Culture Minister, has declared war on Botswana Football League (BFL) Chairman Nicolas Zakhem and league treasurer Jagdish Shah, accusing them of disrupting the local football scene. He proclaimed, “We must confront these individuals who are wreaking havoc on football.” He further stated that the local football governing body is seemingly shielding these individuals.

In December 2023, the Botswana Premier League found itself embroiled in a controversy that sparked outrage among the clubs. This controversy was ignited by the league board’s autocratic decision to reduce the number of teams from 16 to 12 for the 2023/2024 season. The clubs were so incensed that they threatened to boycott league games.

Zakhem and Shah, in response to the shareholders’ move, took BFL shareholders to court, challenging their removal from the BFL board.

At the launch of Ashford Mamelodi’s book, ‘PROTECTING THE GAME’, Rakgare expressed his views, stating, “When we say protecting the game, we must indeed protect it. We must confront those who have disrupted our football by taking football matters to court ‘head on’, if we fail to do this, we are doing injustice to our football.”

He further lamented, “I am losing faith in the leadership of local football and I am saying this without fear or favour because we have individuals who seem to be protected by our local football governing body. Those people recently dragged football matters to court but are still recognized as football leaders. How can this be possible?”

Rakgare also pointed out that there are people who have been relentless in their pursuit of some of the clubs, even to the point of stripping them of their resources. This has left players relying on club equipment to play football and support their families struggling to meet their obligations.

“They have dreams of playing abroad to earn more money, but issues like these set them back. We have individuals like Tumisang Orebonye who are currently raising the country’s flag high and we have individuals such as Maano Ditshupo who have used their football skills to build a clinic in their home village. Imagine such a person being denied the opportunity to play football,” he noted.

Rakgare, expressing his determination, stated, “I am saying this with an open mind, I know some of them in the past threatened to support my political opponents at Mogoditshane, I don’t care, I will take them head on because I am ready as it is about Botswana,” he emphasized.

Zakhem, in response to Rakgare’s ‘persistent interference’ in football matters, pointed out that it poses a significant obstacle to the advancement of local football. He disclosed an instance where Rakgare publicly aired views on football matters on national television, insinuating that foreigners were dominating local football.

“He said live on national television that foreigners are the ones running local football, he was talking about me and Jagdish Shah. How can you go live on TV and say that? I am sorry to say that we are citizens of this country,” Zakhem retorted.

On the other hand, Rakgare noted that he has lost count of the number of esteemed sport administrators, politicians, and other leaders who, at the end of their careers, have threatened to author and publish books but have yet to follow through.

“In my world, Mr. Mamelodi, you join a very prestigious league of Batswana men and women such as the late former President Sir Quett Ketumile Masire (may his good soul rest in peace), Mr David Magang and Dr. Margaret Nasha, who through their books have ensured that many future generations of Batswana can benefit from their experiences and wisdom,” Rakgare concluded.

According to Rakgare, Bra Ash has spent more years in football administration than he has lived on planet earth. “Throughout his four decades of football administration, Bro Ash has worked with tens, if not hundreds of leaders that not only shaped football in Botswana, the region and the continent, but some whom have gone on to hold very important positions such as those of political leaders. In addition, I am talking of the likes of legislators Ray Matlapeng Molomo (may his soul rest in peace) and Philip Makgalemele; both from Botswana as well as Bomber Mthethwa from Eswatini, to name but a few,” he praised.

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Sport

Zebras’ goal drought cause for concern

9th April 2024

The Zebras have found themselves in a goal-scoring rut, drawing blanks in their recent international friendly tournament against Burundi and Rwanda in Madagascar. This lacklustre performance has raised concerns about the team’s readiness for the impending 2026 World Cup Qualifiers.

In the world of football, the number of goals a team scores often dictates the game’s outcome. The ability to successfully navigate the opposing team’s defence and find the back of the net significantly boosts a team’s chances of victory.

However, the Zebras’ upcoming matches against Uganda and Somalia in June promise to be pivotal for their World Cup qualification bid. Therefore, it’s crucial for the team to start scoring if they aim to advance.

The Zebras’ head coach, Didier Da Rosa, has already demonstrated his mettle in his tenure, despite a rocky start. His first assignment was a 3-2 loss to Mozambique in the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers opener in November 2023. Despite the defeat, Da Rosa saw potential in the team’s performance.

A week later, the Zebras bounced back with a commendable 1-0 victory over continental powerhouse, Guinea. This win at Obed Chilume Stadium signalled the Zebras’ readiness to compete at an international level.

With the World Cup qualifiers looming, observers believe Da Rosa needs to step up the team’s preparations. The upcoming matches against Somalia and Uganda are expected to be intense, and the Zebras cannot afford to be complacent.

The Zebras’ captain, Thatayaone Ditlhokwe, is currently recovering from a shoulder injury, which could be a significant setback. However, his return to the team could provide a much-needed morale boost.

In addition, the inclusion of midfielder Brandon Wilson could be a game-changer, provided his citizenship documentation is finalised in time. Da Rosa has praised Wilson’s skills, stating, “Wilson’s mastery of the field, his spatial awareness, and ball reception mark him as a midfield marvel. His strategic positioning is a lesson in discipline, a skill set our team can greatly benefit from.”

Upon his return from Madagascar, Da Rosa expressed his satisfaction with the team’s performance, stating, “We picked up a lot of positives from the tournament. We managed to evaluate a few individuals. It was a very tactical tournament, we didn’t concede any goal but we didn’t score any goal, which is a worrying factor. I need to find solutions in that department as it is the most key aspect of the game as goals win you matches.”

Da Rosa also acknowledged the physicality of the matches, particularly the encounter with Rwanda. “I am positive about how we played but I feel we still need to play more matches so that we get up to the standard. We are anticipating the return of Ditlhokwe, Gape Mohutsiwa and Mpho Kgaswane who could play a vital role in our quest to cause an upset when we face Uganda and Somalia in June,” he said.

The Zebras’ 2026 World Cup Qualifiers Group is a tough one, with formidable opponents like Algeria, Somalia, Guinea, and Uganda. These teams are packed with players based in Europe, and each player will need to bring their best performance to secure a place in these crucial matches.

The Zebras’ journey to the World Cup will be a challenging one, but with the right preparation and mindset, they have the potential to make their mark on the international stage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sport

Cycling for the TKC starts 15 April 2024

3rd April 2024

Preparations for the ‘Cycling for the TKC event’ are at advanced stages as 30 cyclists from Botswana, Namibia and South Africa prepare themselves to endure the 1900km ride from Pretoria to the Walvis Bay via Lobatse in Botswana. The cycling challenge will start on April 15 to April 28, 2024. As one of the activities identified to commemorate 20 years since the Trans Kalahari Corridor (TKC) member states signed an agreement to coordinate and manage TKC, the cycling event is expected to bring awareness of the corridor thereby marketing the corridor within the member states and beyond. The event will be conducted under the theme ‘Transforming the TKC into an economic corridor.’ Commenting on the theme,

The Executive Director of the Trans Corridor Secretariat Mr. Leslie Mlungisi Mpofu stated that the corridor transverses through some of the low-income communities and therefore the corridor is expected to inject economic impetus on these communities thereby creating much needed jobs, be it informal or formal employment. The objectives of the event are to promote spatial development initiatives on the Trans Kalahari Corridor and to create an increased awareness and usage of the TKC for both trade and tourism thereby increasing the volumes on the TKC. ‘ It is important to promote sustainable tourism and events like this are key in promoting tourism, economic growth, the environment as well as conservation. By showcasing the scenic beauty and cultural richness of the corridor, the event will foster deeper appreciation of the unique regions the corridor passes through’. Said Mr. Mpofu. Other objectives of the event include obtaining Member State commitment to the economic development through spatial development initiatives along the TKC, to promote road safety on the TKC in line with the UN Second Decade of Action for Road Safety as well as the African Union Road Safety Charter as well as to create a hype for the commemoration of the 20 years anniversary.

A Pledge to be signed by the ministers responsible for transport on behalf of their citizens to promote spatial development iniatitves, and committing to the development of the TKC will be handed over to the ministers for signature by the cyclists at Pretoria, Lobatse and Walvis Bay respectively. The cyclists will stop at several towns and villages along the corridor to engage with the community. Safety measures and protocols will be implemented to ensure the well-being and safety of all participants and these will include but not limited to police escort, medical support, route supervision and support. Measures have also been taken to ensure that the ride is memorable and enjoyable to all participants. Cycling clubs along the corridors members of the public who are interested are also encouraged to cycles with the key riders either to meet them before they arrive in settlement / town or to ride with them as the leave a settlement/town for a distance they so wish. Organizations, companies and public entities are also invited to participate through sponsorships.

The Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat (TKCS) is a secretariat of the Trans Kalahari Corridor Management Committee (TKCMC), a corridor management institution (CMI) that was established through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. The TKCS coordinates the implementation of the TKCMC trade and transport facilitation work programme. The CMI also is mandated to promote the Trans Kalahari Corridor which stretches about 1900 km from Gauteng, South Africa, across Botswana and ends at the Walvis Bay, Namibia.

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