It is common knowledge that some teams in Botswana are transforming from amateur to semi-professional and professional levels. This transition requires different models of governance and operation. The development is most welcome as it has great potential to contribute positively to the commercialization of the sport of football thereby creating a viable industry capable of generating employment for many talented youngsters just like in other lucrative leagues around the world. It should be appreciated that as a country and its people we have to be part of the global changes and graduate from the days where football and indeed other sport were played as part of leisure activities. As change takes place owing to new trends and ways of doing business, it brings with it expectations and challenges which require management. As a matter of fact, change is a process that is at times painful to go through, however, it is inevitable.
One thing I can assure you is that those of you gathered here are motivated by one thing, your love for Township Rollers. This is the common denominator that has brought all of you under one roof. Having deemed it necessary to have gathered here, I implore you to approach matters that you have determined critical to discuss in a civilised and sober manner. It is undisputable that your team is a viable brand which deserves to be managed with care and protected with a view to ensure that it remains attractive and relevant to the supporters and sponsors. As a team, you need to have a common vision of where you want to take this great institution. By so doing, you will create a point of convergence for diverse interests and opinions. It is worth noting that you do not necessarily have to like each other to work together, however, you must all be committed to do what is in the best interest of the club. A way forward will have to be found sooner rather than later. Agreeing on the way forward would require a high degree of flexibility, compromise and trade off. At the end of the meeting, a solution would have to be found, whose solution will help take the team forward. That is how great institutions operate. A reputable brand such as Township Rollers cannot and should not be run through court orders.
As you are aware the infighting is not only counter-productive, it is a monumental waste of resources which could be put to good use in transforming the club. You will agree with me that what happened to the team a few days back in Molepolole was shameful. Not only did the team perform badly against a lowly placed club, supporters fought between and among themselves. As Township Rollers supporters, fans, players and sponsors, you need to come together in the interest of developing the club. I would like to take this opportunity to appreciate the sterling efforts made by the President of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) in trying to broker peace among the various stakeholders of this great club. This is a hallmark of a great leader as he did not wait for things to deteriorate within the most successful club in the country. Today, I am here to add to the wise counsel that I am positive he has provided to the leaders of Township Rollers. With the pieces of advice rendered thus far, I am confident that you will undertake a process of normalising the governance of this great club.
As developments all over the world take place, you have to ensure that you are not left behind. Your club has to meet the Constitutional, licensing and other regulatory requirements of the BFA, CAF and FIFA. Given its success over the years, the club should be a model of how other clubs in Botswana can transform from an amateur to semi-professional and professional status. As I said earlier, change is never easy. However, it should not be so controversial to the extent that it brings the club into disrepute. The infighting that is evidently taking place will make it difficult for would be sponsors to associate with you or any other football club anytime soon. The process of transforming and developing football clubs is both simple and complex. All clubs need to generate revenue with a view to pay players and officials. This is a paradox in the sense that finances are required but they are not the only prerequisite to development. Leadership is one of the critical requirements, in this connection. Township Rollers need to keep its house in order with a view to compete against the best clubs regionally and continentally. Good governance and sound policies are central to both your success and resolution of the current impasse.
I wish to quote from the former President of the African Development Bank (ADB) Dr Donald Kaberuka, who said, “It is not money that delivers development. It is the policies that bring good return to that investment in addition to that delivery capacity”. In order for Township Rollers to compete effectively and meaningfully locally and continentally, the club must be run professionally. The days of having meaningless cliques and factions in club and Association management are long gone. There is need for result-oriented approach to management and corporate governance of all sport entities, your club included. Therefore, as you elect people into positions of leadership please ensure that you look for selfless leaders who do not waste time in factional wars. The current controversies and internal wrangling within Township Rollers have taken a toll on the performance of the club as witnessed by its current poor showing in league games and in terms of management have taken it many years backwards.
Instead of becoming a growing and learning organisation with solid plans and a bright future you have degenerated into an organisation that washes its dirty linen in public to your detriment. In the recent past, news from your team have been making headlines for wrong reasons. It is time you discuss issues in a candid manner, behind closed doors with a view to emerge as a united, solid and mature leadership. The tendency by whoever claims to know the truth feels justified to issue press statements or conduct interviews should come to an end. There should be a dedicated source that is responsible for disseminating correct and consistent information for quality assurance purposes. I would like to assure you that the Botswana National Sport Commission in collaboration with the Botswana Football Association will always avail itself to advice and guide all sport entities that need help such as yourselves. This is the time of the year when you should be focusing on preparations for the next stage of Mascom Top 8, CAF competitions and consolidating your position at the top of the log. Instead, you have elected to spend precious time in bickering that will never yield positive results. When players at club level perform very well, that is very good for National teams as coaches have little time to teach players basic skills.
I wish to implore you to bury the hatchet as the Popa e a Ipopa community. I urge you to turn your swords into ploughs so as to cultivate a bright future for the club. The destiny of this great club remains in your responsible and collective hands. With your collective decisions you can either build or destroy, however, I implore you to build a formidable club to the delight of your supporters so as to bring back the glory days. As responsible adults, it will be shameful to dictate to you what you can and cannot do. I derive consolation from the fact that the great minds that founded this club together with those that sustained it over the years will be instrumental in helping you find a lasting solution to your challenges.
I wish to remind you that there are so many people out there who have made emotional investment into the team and that the current challenges do hurt them badly. In this connection, the leadership of the club owes its existence to the multitudes of fans who follow the team wherever and whenever it plays. Without your fans and supporters, there is no Township Rollers to talk about. As it is often said, “Respect is earned. Honesty is appreciated. Trust is gained. Loyalty is returned.” I therefore urge you not to take the loyal supporters of Township Rollers for granted. They are free to find a different home if do not make your brand attractive and relevant. With total commitment and will power you can over-come adversity and allow sanity to prevail to the delight of your supporters and other stakeholders.
*This is part of Reikeletseng’s (the Botswana National Sports Commission Chairperson) keynote address at the Township Rollers AGM on January 30, 2016.