The name of Bennett Mamelodi has made headline impacts within the corridors and boardrooms of Lekidi Football Centre throughout this week.
Some football administrators get exasperated at the mention of his name while others rejoice at the thought of his presence within the football corner.
But above everything else, this is a man whose administrative prowess and blunders have long divided football opinion. Ever since his plans to build a Premier League ‘monster’ in 2016 unravelled, he fell down the football terrain after a new regime took over.
But five years on, possibility that Mamelodi might be re-appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the newly registered elite football body called, Botswana Football League (BFL) lingers.
The carefully laid plans to elevate Mamelodi into BFL radar is said to be orchestrated by Chairman Jagdish Shah. It is believed that the Township Rollers man has requested for the re-advertisement of the post so that Mamelodi’s football resume can be assessed and processed.
The first phase of the advertisement was completed last year November and it turns out that the blood brother to Ashford Mamelodi did not throw in his curriculum vitae for reasons best known to him. The football conspiracy between Mamelodi and Jagdish comes afar but their love and hate relationship is credited for catapulting the premier league to greater heights.
During years gone by, Mamelodi is believed to have brought the premier league to a stature worth millions of Pulas. Bringing and nurturing Botswana Telecommunications (BTC), the former and long standing partners of elite football is one thing he is still remembered for.
But his recklessness and his inability to operate by the book has painted his otherwise industrious football knowledge with a black brush.While it is clear that BFL has ran out of options in pursuit of a competent CEO, it is also a devil‘s job to appoint a man whose affair with BFA never experienced a happy ending. Football is a game of emotions, so the adage goes.
They were certainly high when Mamelodi was expelled in 2016 and immediately took his brief case to court for legal redress. Have they let bygones be bygones? This question stands still amid allegations that his way back into Lekidi football offices is carefully crafted.
In Mamelodi, some say the league will profit immensely especially at a time when the struggle to build the baseline amid ravaging corona virus circumstances.
But others fear that this is a man who can manoeuvre the football terrain; a schemer who can overthrow the football regime if not closely monitored.
This is the same strategy that was master-minded by former premier league Chairperson Mike Molefe, and it took off immediately when Mamelodi was first given a six months contract to negotiate more sponsors for the league in April of 2012.
At the time, his salary did not exceed P25 000. In August of the same year, as Mamelodi stamped his authority on the ground, he fired one Setete Phuthego after local auditor, Marzas Company, found out that the former General Manager had abused office and crippled league coffers.
Although, high and file cadre of Botswana Football are not proudly maintaining it, it crops out that there is an under boiling battle to put together a succession plan especially at the premier league.
This surface war of succession, unbeknownst to many, is bringing into open the contradictory faces of the league house: the robust force of grass roots social equality within themselves, versus the tight control by the Chairman and his preferred mates to capture the soul of the elite league.
Mamelodi surfaced on the football spectrum at the turn of the millennium after his brother, Ashford, connected him with the then FIFA representative, Ian Riley. The two would later form a company called Pula Sports Marketing that negotiated sponsor (BTC) on behalf of the league. The company has since liquidated.
Mamelodi is still an employee of premier league champions Jwaneng Galaxy and was not available to give clarity on rumours linking him with the BFL post. As of going to print, Shah has not answered questions as to why the league has re advertised the CEO post but those close to him suggest that the adjudicating committee had not found a fitting administrator hence calling for fresh applications.
Last year, only two names had shown interest. The name of one Harry Koata from Masitaoka together with Olebile Sikwane were shortlisted.
The Botswana national boxing team recently returned from the zone 4 championship held in Mozambique. The team was led by head coach Thebe Setlalekgosi, two assistant coaches, Gibson Rauwe and Pearl Mooketsi. Two referees and judges, Gaseitsewe Ponatshego and Linda Mooketsi.
In the women’s category, Lethabo Modukanele was representing Botswana in the 48 kg division, while Phekie Bele and Sadie Kenosi were competing in the 57 kg and 60 kg categories, respectively. In the men’s category, Kobamelo Molatlhegi was representing the country in the 52 kg division, while Rajab Mahomed was competing in the under 51 kg category.George Molwantwa was competing for under 57 kg category and Treasure Moremi was competing for under 60kg category.
The boxers came home with seven medals, Modukanele came home with a gold medal, Kenosi, Rajab, Molatlhegi all came home with silver medals. While Moremi, Molwantwa and Phekie Bele all came home with bronze medals.
According to Moitshepi Nkabiti, the public relations officer of the Botswana Boxing Association, the team performed well and that they were hoping that Rajab would also bring home a gold medal. However, due to an eye injury, he could not participate in the finals.
He stated that, “though some people might think that how our team performed is not an achievement it is a big achievement to us. Other countries came with 19 boxers while we only came with our seven boxers, and they all came back with medals. That is something that we have to be proud of I really commend them for their performance. Having 5 players making it to the finals is really a blessing and we should not take it for granted.”
According to Nkabiti, Botswana was ranked fourth in the zone 4 championship, which was held in Mozambique. Other countries that participated in the tournament included South Africa, Zambia, Eswatini, and Seychelles. They all had a total of 19 boxers. Lesotho also had eight boxers.
The first Mascom Charity Cup spectacular has come and gone. The football event played at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium saw four football clubs playing one-day tourney with various charity centres being beneficiaries of the gate takings.
While the attendance was not at the expected level, it is said that the sponsor has made a killing with close to P500 000 made from voting lines. Football followers were asked to vote for teams of their choice, and top four clubs were eligible to play. A single sms voting line cost P 1.50.
Gaborone United became the most voted team with 62 984 votes followed by Security Systems with 51 027. On the third spot was BDF XI with 48 596 votes while Orapa United came forth with 44 401. Shockingly, Township Rollers did not make it after gathering a total of 30 637 votes, with BR Highlanders ahead of them having seen 44 204 votes to their name.
It is said, however that, the initiative live to expectation as clubs together with the sponsor have managed to assist charities of their choices. Mascom is believed to be happy for identifying beneficiaries and getting value for their money.
The mobile network company is still the longest standing partners of local football, having first tasted waters in 2005. The company now powers the Top 8 competition and said to have renewed the dame sponsorship at a value not exceeding 18 million. The Mascom Charity Cup was not the first to be hosted by a mobile network company.
In 2018, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) hosted a similar event in which followers had to vote. The four participating teams were Mochudi Center Chiefs, Gaborone United, Orapa United and Township Rollers. GU were the eventual winners.
It is however not clear if the tournament will continue in the next football calendar, but what goes down into the history books is that Teenage Mpote and Orapa United were the first to win it. In previous years, there have been an off season tournament whose aim was meant for charity purposes. The tourney was called Kabelano Charity Cup and was usually played by four big teams (Rollers, Notwane, GU and Chiefs) without taking the voting routes. It was last hosted in 2015 and had Barclays as the sponsors.
Yet another thrilling showdown is expected between the country’s hottest strikers, Thabang Sesinyi of Jwaneng Galaxy and Thataoyaone Kgamanyane of Gaborone United, as the duo are eyeing for the 2021/2022 Golden boot.
With only four Botswana Premier League (BPL) games left, the race for the honours is rolling towards a thrilling climax, but for two individuals there is a race for an accolade of their own taking place that could easily go down to the final minutes of the season. Leading the pack with 19 goals is Jwaneng Galaxy talisman, Sesinyi who is one goal apart from Kgamanyane who has netted 18 goals thus far.
Both players have their eye on the golden boot, hoping that their respective teams have fixtures to put them in with a realistic chance of catching up, or leaving the other behind. The Money Machine is currently at the summit of the BPL log with 61 points while the mining giant, Galaxy are trailing on the third place with 49 points, having played 24 games thus far.
Both teams (GU and Galaxy) are expected to face each other towards the end of the season, as the initial fixture was postponed due to Galaxy’s involvement in CAF championship group stages. With 19 goals chalked up for the season so far, Sesinyi is just one goal away from Kgamanyane who led the race for the better part of the campaign. Sesinyi who is on freakish scoring form has scored four goals in his last two games; a hat trick against Prisons XI and a goal against Sua Flamingoes in the midweek fixture.
But there is no doubt that Sesinyi is no longer playing to carry his team, Galaxy, as realistically there is a slim chance for them to clinch the 2021/2022 season, but he is eyeing the Golden Boot Award when the league falls off.
Kgamanyane has begun the season in tremendous form; scoring every time he is given a chance, while Sesinyi, on the other hand, reached the peak of his form in the second round of the season; scoring both in the domestic league and also on the CAF Champions’ league group stage. He featured on team of the week on February.
Furthermore, the Money Machine attacker showed some growth as his conversion rate has been on a rising graph in the games he has so far played. Although Kgamanyane’s goal scoring prowess has been there for everyone to see, the player has been hampered by injuries. It promises to be a fascinating battle between the duo.
Meanwhile, BPL this week announced that they will hold the 2021/2022 awards. The league has since added seven new categories to take the total number of categories to 16. Among some new categories are the Defender of the Season and Midfielder of the Season awards. There are also two more awards for the administrators, as the league has included Team Manager of the Season and the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Season awards.
The best performing players in this campaign will be included in the Premier League Best XI. Nevertheless, match day officials have also been recognised with the introduction of two more categories in the young Referee of the Season and the Female Referee of the Season. Furthermore, BFL CEO Solomon Ramochotlhwane indicated that the awards will be held on the 25 June 2022, just after the 2021-2022 season comes to an end.