BFA set to cancel 2020-21 season
For the second football season running, Botswana Football Association (BFA) finds itself battling a familiar war. A long complicated fight against coronavirus and football — one that continues to linger on and whose consequences have left the game on its knees.
The association together with the newly registered football company known as Botswana Football league (BFL) — born to steward the domestic game — now appear to be losing the fight.
More than five boardroom meetings have previously taken place in an effort to resuscitate the game from the ashes, with the outcome of the latest meeting depressing to football fanatics longing for the return of the beautiful game.
Information gleaned from sources at Lekidi Football Centre paint a sordid picture that the 2020-21 football season is about to be declared null and void. It appears this was, and continues to be the last BFA resort. Across all Southern Africa’s elite leagues, the domestic campaigns are underway only in Zambia and South Africa. The two leagues are seeing off the last games of the 2020/21 season.
Given that backdrop, why would anyone – ulterior motives accepted – want to get rid of the work put in over the previous five months and pretend that teams never prepared to start? It is a question BFA should ask themselves as they ponder on the future.
Public health authorities country wide, have been concerned that, given the players’ direct contact with each other and close interactions with the general public, and in addition to their regular travels, they have been super accelerators of the virus. To start the leagues now, clubs have to be confined to a single Covid-19 zone and foot the bill, including testing players at least twice a week.
BFA does not want to publicly admit the inability of the clubs to test players after every game. Even after rapid testing tools are introduced, it still looks expensive for clubs to carry the tests. In an instance where a club plays 4 games per month, it takes P800 to conduct a COVID-19 test for one player. A premier league team consists of about 40 members which translate to P32 000 for every player to be tested every month.
And in the eyes of the health authorities, part of the impetus for testing players is that they are quick spreaders who unknowingly spread to other people. However, BFA and other stake holders are mindful of the scarcity of coronavirus 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.
To this date, it is safe to believe, although BFA is not maintaining it, hope rests on the availability of the vaccine. Government announced roll out of the vaccine will begin end of March. Chairperson of BFL, Jagdish Shah was quoted saying, “we are still confused about what to do, and everybody says what they want. There is no correlation within stakeholders but it is our wish to resume the league,” he said.
Indications however point to a bleak future.
Big Guns for Botswana Grand Prix
The National Stadium will be lit up with fireworks on April 29, 2023, as some of the best international athletes will participate in the maiden Botswana Grand prix.
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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
BFA to pay Taylor P330 000
Botswana Football Association (BFA) has been ordered to pay its former Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Goabaone Taylor over P330 000 as a compensation for her unfair dismissal last year February.
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