The new BFA Chief Executive, Kitso Kemoeng, is a veteran sports administrator that rarely chickens out of a challenge. The office he now occupies has seen many failing to finish their contracts. We wait to see how he will fare. Below is his inaugural press conference speech
Let me start by thanking the Botswana Football Association, through its President Mr. Tebogo Sebego, for having found in me a suitable candidate for the position of BFA Chief Executive Officer. Mr. President, Sir, in your invitation for applications for the position for which I have just been appointed, you listed several attributes that the ideal candidate should carry.
Overall Leadership, Stewardship and Vision to the BFA
You wanted to appoint a competent CEO, who is able to provide overall leadership, stewardship and vision to the BFA. I believe you have found one. I have all the attributes that you listed in the advert, having served in a similar position at the Botswana National Sports Council for nine years. I have also developed an external experience as a consultant. Although it is not going to be all about me, I will through my team generate a lot of ideas for yourselves as our principals that should take Botswana football to the next level.
Overall Leadership to the implementation of the Association’s Strategic and operational plans
You wanted somebody who will provide overall leadership to the implementation of the BFA strategic and operational plans. Although I have not been able to access a copy of the BFA strategy, I have been assured that it exists. I will therefore facilitate the review of it, its communication and source its buy-in thereof. Parallel to all these, I will facilitate the successful implementation of the strategy together with its antecedent projects and programmes and such others; proposing reviews where necessary to match the new challenges and the available resources. Botswana will have a conveyor belt for generating future quality football stars.
I have developed many a policy for the BNSC. I don’t know what new policies have been developed in that institution since 2012, but I claim a very substantial role in more than 50% of them; being very modest. I have also developed policies as a consultant for the BNSC, AUSC Region V, BAYGOC and the IWG. I am obviously going to conduct an audit of what is available in the BFA and how effective it is, before embarking on a review of those already in place and initiating those that are not in place, but are necessary. This will just be to ensure that proper systems are in place to launch a new era.
Management of BFA stakeholders to achieve the Association’s mandate
The BFA has expressed desire to have somebody who will facilitate the management of their stakeholders to achieve the Association’s mandate. Success of my stay at the BNSC was premised on a strong stakeholder engagement and communication policies; where our stakeholders were always in the picture about our activities. The BFA is going to be no different. I am going to facilitate the development of a stakeholder engagement plan and communications policy on which stakeholder engagement and communications would be facilitated. Resources permitting, I would facilitate relevant workshops for my staff, initially on an annual basis until I am satisfied that they all know what is required of them, after which the workshop will be held every two years or as and when necessary.
Driving the Association’s cultural change
I am expected to drive the Association’s cultural change and ensure that all policies, regulations and code of ethics are cascaded and adhered to throughout the organisation. The secret of any buy-in is effective communication. I believe I am a good communicator, who always strives to take his people along. Once everybody is in the picture, they are most likely to toe the line. They are most likely to support you in your efforts. The other important aspect is to involve them in the crafting and/or review of instruments. Ownership usually leads to support and urge to see projects and programmes succeed.
Execution of decisions and resolutions of the General Assembly and the NEC
I am also expected to facilitate the execution of decisions and resolutions of the General Assembly and the National Executive Committee. I have executed decisions and resolutions of general assemblies and the Board for almost all my professional working life, with improved success as I went up the ladder. For the nine years I was BNSC CEO, my job entailed initiating policy proposals and implementing decisions, resolutions and programmes and projects as coming from my principals at whatever level. This should not be a problem with me at the BFA.
Overseeing the Financial Wellbeing of the Association
I was part of the team that pressured government to increase the BNSC grant from a paltry P300 000.00 to over P20 million pula in a space of about 10 years. I was part of the team that removed a nagging qualification from the BNSC financial statements. I was part of the team that convinced government to release the BNSC grant in one tranche for effective planning and operations. I was part of the team that developed financial policies that improved allocation and control of funds. With the right team in the management, especially the finance department, this should not be a problem. I have not been trained at a higher level in finances, but I have received adequate training and exposure to see me succeeding in managing the organisation’s finances.
Leading the Commercialisation of the game of football in Botswana
Although this may not be my strength, football is such a product that is always an envy of the corporate sector that is ambitious about its commercial value. My conviction is that if you rid football of all the bad publicity and inefficiency, and it projects itself positively, the corporate sector would want to be associated with it. The corporate sector needs a platform to project itself and its product(s) and, throughout the world, football has always been a dream platform, for as long as it has projected itself positively. This is the one sport in Botswana that has attracted live spectatorship of over 20 000 and unmatched television appeal. Besides these, I believe that through prudent financial management, I can save the association a lot of money that could contribute to the association’s financial health. By mounting successful programmes, as I believe I am capable of, the association should not find it difficult to attract commercial partners in some of its activities. While I remain optimistic about improved commercial partnerships, I need to caution that the participation of the private sector in our activities is
as good as our participation in their activities. I’ll be quick to admit that I am not an economist. I however believe that the capacity of the private sector to participate in our activities is as good as the profits they make or stand to make from us.
Maintaining good relations with stakeholders
I am further expected to establish and ensure that relations between international and local organisations to which the Association is affiliated, or has an interest, are maintained. The answer here continues to lie on the stakeholder engagement plan and the communications policy. It also lies in work plans and programmes, with routine checklists and reviews, and effective and efficient allocation of duties. Stakeholders should at all times know their contact persons within the organisation, with minimal communication blockages. Parallel to this, the Association needs deliberate and defined memoranda of agreement with identified stakeholders; be they local or international.
Coordinating activities of all organs of the Association
I will also be expected to coordinate activities of all organs of the BFA. This is what I did for the better part of my stay at the BNSC. Coordinating the activities of all organs of the Association shouldn’t be much of a problem. One of the very obvious things I am going to do is to identify officers at the organisation for every organ, obviously within available resources, and to have a defined plan of operation.
Acting as a spokesperson for the organisation
As the BNSC CEO, I was the spokesperson of the organisation. It should not be a problem for me, especially if the organisation defines communication parameters.
Skills and Knowledge
I believe I am a qualified and highly experienced sports practitioner. I have also received training in a variety of areas including but not limited to leadership and management, public relations, finance and industrial relations. I am an experienced leader and manager at both national and international level, and a good communicator with excellent writing skills. I am also an experienced workshop facilitator and a trained teacher; which should benefit BFA development endeavours.
Relationship to Football
I was born into football. I was of the tiny species at primary and secondary school. So, I never played any formal school football. Instead, I played in the development structures of Maletamotse Sporting Club, then I played for a non-league team called Mathata Sweepers in Lobatse, before I moved to Woodhall Stars, then UB Kicks, Mokgosi Fighters, Peleng United Brothers, Peleng Kicks and then Nadia’s United; all from Lobatse except UB Kicks and Mokgosi Fighters. Before joining Mokgosi Fighters, I failed trials at Notwane. I then went into coaching. I coached at all levels of Botswana football. I have also served in a range of Botswana football structures at local, regional and national levels; and in the process of resigning from the position of Member of the BPL Disciplinary Committee.
Why I applied for this job?
I applied for this job because I have passion, and because of my eagerness to contribute. For me it is first about serving football, than it is about a job. All I need is a conducive environment, starting with a united, committed and understanding Board. I have been assured of this. I also need support of the media, and their strong commitment to the growth and development of Botswana football. Just in case I had doubts about applying for this position, I was pressured by one Kgosi Michael Spokes Gaborone, who would not back off for anything. He even threatened me with corporal punishment, should I drag my feet on this matter of national importance.
What is in my Agenda?
• Improved rating of the Zebras. This will not be achieved in one day. It is going to take meaningful and well-resourced programmes to generate a future generation of star players who would catapult the standards of our national teams.
• Improved relationships with stakeholders: FIFA, CAF, COSAFA, Government, BNSC, BNOC, Sponsors and other Partners, Regions, Clubs, Other Football Associations, Media and Members of the Public.
• Upping development initiatives: This should actually be our emphasis. For a successful national team, there should be deliberate and well executed development structures adequate to support the national team and sustain its performance. We need to look closely at how we could adequately benefit from such structures as Re Ba Bona Ha. We need to revive holiday football camps as we used to effectively hold in Jwaneng. We need to revamp or resuscitate the Chappies Little League project and other such programmes with a potential to lay a solid foundation for our football. Founded on all these, we need national youth or junior leagues to close gaps in our competition structures. We can’t compete at a high level without solid support structures. We need a deep introspection in this area. This is going to be my area of focus, well mindful of the fact that some of the decisions might call for a change of policy, for which we would depend on our football politicians. I appeal to them in advance to do what is good for Botswana football in the long term. Focusing resources at the top, when the supporting structures are non-existent is tantamount to waste.
• Others: Improving access to football facilities; Initiating capital development concepts; Making a case for a Football Academy; Improved staff welfare; Improved player welfare; Improved management of the BFA assets; Increased value of the Association; and Improved image of Botswana football.
Notwithstanding this agenda, my attention has been drawn to urgent activities that have to be embarked upon even before I familiarise myself with the staff, systems if there are any, and such other important things that one needs before he assumes full control. I will obviously spend time on these urgent activities in the first month, and can only adjust to full interrogation of issues after the Annual General Assembly. This is not going to be easy, but has to be done. Your expectations as the media in the first half, may therefore, not be fully met as my attention and focus would be elsewhere. The full extent of my first 100 days will be shared with my principals.
As I conclude, I ask for everybody’s support. My principals have assured me of their support, within their limited resources. I now appeal to you in the media, and through you, to the public out there to support our course. This is a national agenda. It is not just a Kemoeng agenda. Support this big national programme. As you all know, football is big, not just in Botswana, but across Africa and the rest of the world. Last week I read a column in the Botswana Gazette by one Collen Lesole, through his Rose Coloured Glasses, where he described Soccer as: Romance first and a sport second. He was spot on. Bill Shanky, a Liverpool Manager of yesteryears, is known to have said: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that”. I hear of a story of a derby in the DRC, then Zaire, where supporters of one of the teams playing torched the house of the match referee during that very same match. Those of us who have been around would recall how Cameroun made a case for Africa by reaching the quarter finals of the Italia 90, then featuring a 38 year old Roger Milla who had been personally called from retirement by the State President Paul Biya. As Steve Bloomfield put it: “Biya understood the power of football. He knew that the Indomitable Lions’ success would be his success”. There are many such stories that illustrate the power of football. This is a big sport that needs more attention and concerted effort. Please support me in my new challenge of turning the fortunes of Botswana football around. It will not be easy, and it will not take a short time. With a clear road map, resources and support, we can make it. Our football has the potential to be up there with the best in the continent. But, first, we have to get our systems right, conquer the region, before we rightfully take our position against the best in Africa. Then we can dream beyond that.