Penalty against Gunners
For Extension Gunners, it is never a case of once beaten twice shy. Even at the hour of the celebration of the newly elected committee led by the indispensable Okaile Rapula, the Peleng side is battling a familiar war of identity crisis. Gunners are a team bleeding profusely from administrative blunders emanating from blatant disregard of laid down procedures.
As early as last month, the club was forced to again stare down the barrel of the gun as former coach Stanley Mwaanga wrote to the Botswana Football Association (BFA), complaining about the ill-treatment he receives from the club.
Mwaanga’s complaint follows the default judgement delivered in March 2021 that Gunners should be ready to compensate Mwaanga for unfair dismissal.
The Zambian gaffer had dragged the struggling Lobatse outfit to Industrial Court after parting company when the relationship fractured beyond repair. At the time, Gunners management said the coach failed to conjure a winning combination for the club, bringing unsatisfactory results.
After considering all documents provided by the coach, the court delivered a default judgement in favour of Mwaanga. Gunners are to pay him the sum of P 149 43.00.
The court argued that Gunners failed to appear to defend the case and ordered the amount be paid in full and free of deductions by not later than March 31st, 2021.
However, it appears that the coach is not entirely pleased by Gunners’ wayward behaviour to refuse to obey the court order. The coach’s latest letter to the association seeks to block or withhold Gunners’ playing license for the 2021-22 season until the team fully clears the debt.
It is a pre-requisite to clear all outstanding debts with former employees/ entities for a club to partially or fully satisfy club licensing requirements.
“I have a court order against Extension Gunners from the Industrial Court of Botswana.
In a lettCourtted May 7th, 2021, Extension Gunners acknowledged the debt and pleaded with me not to garnishee the whole amount but only to retain P 50 000, reasoning that they are battling financial crisis,” the coach wrote.
Although livid, the coach acknowledges that Gunners has partially satisfied the promise of paying him the P 50 000. Gunners managed to peel off the debt with the FIFA credited funds for relief during the turbulent times of coronavirus.
“On the May 11th, 2021, The P 50 000 was paid to me by BFA under the instructions Extension Gunners, leaving the outstanding balance of P 99 453.00,” the coach assured.
Gunners, to their credit, are, however, not a difficult nut to crack. They have shown a paper trail of evidence and promises made between themselves and the coach. Former interim Secretary-General of the club, Edwin Mabapa, acknowledged the debt before the association.
“We acknowledge the debt. Resultant from financial constraints to pay the amount wholly, and as a sign of good faith, we now ask you to retain P 50 000 from our relief funds and remit it to Mr. Mwaanga to treat the debt we will duly meet the coach and draw a payment plan for the outstanding balance,” part of the letter Gunners letter reads.
But as things stand, the two parties are yet to iron out their differences, and Mwaanga wants the matter to be resolved quickly.
Gunners are fully aware that they are on the brink of collapse and may face devastating consequences. They traveled the familiar road when former coaches like Pio Paul, Chico Nare, and Tumie Duicker demanded their compensations after partying ways.
However, the new committee is wary of all these and has instantly hit the ground running. Word coming from Lobatse is that they are doing all they can to clear the debts and rebrand the club’s image, arguably one of the most extensive teams in the country. Indications are that once all is dealt with, the financial accounts of the team will be under the custodian of an accounting firm with a high reputation.
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AFRICA’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 World’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.
“Africa 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.”
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.
“The sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africa’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.”
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.
“Policymakers 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.”
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. “Fortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.”
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. “First 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.”
“Policymakers 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.”