Local football fraternity is currently divided into three camps – one for Maclean Letshwiti, another for Solomon Mantswe and the other for the current football leader Tebogo Sebego. The two challengers claim to have the magical touch to heal local football of all its ills. OTHUSITSE TLHOBOGANG reports on the nail-biting race for the supreme office of the world’s most loved sport.
Botswana Football Association’s (BFA) elective congress is closing in fast yet some fundamentals are yet to be finalised. The association leadership is currently racing against time to set up an electoral board following FIFA’s instruction to go on with elections. The world football governing body this week instructed BFA to hold the election as per their constitution without failure after some had felt the elections should be postponed to next year.
The FIFA instruction has piled pressure on the Tebogo Sebego-led National Executive Committee (NEC) to make sure the elections are held in accordance with the constitution. This means the NEC has just over two weeks to set up the electoral board which they have long been tasked to do by the general assembly. The board is expected to oversee this year’s elections scheduled for July 30, 2016. Incumbent BFA president Tebogo Sebego was quoted in the media this week saying they have written to the University of Botswana Democracy project and Independent Electoral Commission inviting them to play the watchdog role during the elections. This is a difficult time for Sebego who is seeking re-election as he is trying to be cautious that people may not think he has appointed his own people to the electoral board.
Sebego has not had a so good end of term at the helm of BFA. It is during his tenure that the association experienced massive mayhem than any other. The ordeal that recently occurred at BFA had seriously threatened the future of local football. The question now remains, what needs to be done to make things right and avoid the reoccurrence. Even though many speak on condition of anonymity they feel that the current Sebego regime needs to be ousted to bring in a totally new leadership. It is an open secret that even some of the members of the executive committee have lost hope in him. Failed attempts have been made by some NEC members to get rid of Sebego even before the elections. Some have even been spotted in his opposing campaign teams for the July elections. Despite all that has happened recently, sport analyst Jimmy George says local football in general is not totally in a bad state as some are saying. George says the state of football should not be judged by the unfortunate circumstances that happened at Botswana Premier League.
He is of a view that a lot still needs to be done as currently the leadership seems not to have tangible system they want to follow in developing football locally.
“The problem is we seem not to know what we want to do to develop football. There is currently no model that we have adopted to say this is what we want to achieve or produce as BFA. There should be a model we follow,” says George. He explains that BFA should adopt a model to be identified with whether it is developing talented players or top quality officials such as coaches. According to him, at the moment things are just done for the sake of doing things with no defined structures. George hits hard at the BFA, saying it should focus more on developing talent and setting up clearly defined development structures going forward. On the other hand another analyst and former national team player States Segopolo says a lot has to be done to improve local football and it will not always be easy. Segopolo says all the envied countries with top class football passed through the stage local football is right now. “Football in Botswana used to be for recreation but now we want to take it professional, hence a lot of problems that we see today. It is not something we can skip as we are on a learning curve. All these other countries we see today enjoying beautiful football went through this as well,” he maintains.
To take local football forward Segopolo says there should be balanced development of both the players and the administrators. “To have a good football set up there should be a parallel growth of the players and administrators. If the administration is neglected there is always going to be bad decisions taken that will in the end affect players,” says Segopolo. He further says this is not a duty for one man as all personnel should do their part. Currently some people are calling for Sebego to be ousted, saying he has failed to deliver on his mandate and improve local football. Even though Segopolo acknowledges that the responsibility lies with the leader he points out that for the leader to be able to deliver all people must be performing as well. He says from the regions to the top, everyone must do their part to make sure that football grows and not put the blame of anyone. He calls on the footballing fraternity to start appointing competent people at the regions so that work can be done there as well. The regions are the feeders of the higher leagues in Botswana and are deemed important. As a result Segopolo says, “If at the bottom there is nothing that is being done then obviously there will be no good end product.” The two analysts (George & Segopolo) concur that clear developmental structures need to be put in place for local football to grow.
Mantswe, Letshwiti take on Sebego
Most people are of a view that for this to take place the current NEC-led by Sebego must be taken out to bring in a new administration with different objectives. Campaigns are currently on-going for different camps in a quest to lure voters to them. Maclean Letshwiti and Solomon Mantswe are gearing up to oust Sebego from the BFA presidential seat. When announcing his candidature Mantswe emphasised that their strategy will be based mainly on introducing progressive governance and administrative reforms at BFA. He said people should accept that the world has changed, so is football together with methods of modern governance. He, therefore, said they want to come and improve as well as do things differently according to modern methods. He, however, pointed out that they will be coming to improve on what has been done by those came before them. One the other hand Letshwiti said key to his strategy will be an increased focus on regional football to ensure production of quality players. He insists there is need to capacitate regional blocks that will drive development of partnerships for better execution and development of football across the country.
Sebego judged for BPL chaos
Only those who are legible to vote know who they are going to vote at this time. However, George warns they must be aware that what people who solicit for vote say is always total different from what they do after being elected. Looking at the three candidates he says only what matters will be whether they implement or not. He says Mantswe has an advantage because he is noble, has the strength and works well with people. The question is after election will he implement what he promised. As for Letshwiti, George says though he has been on the background for so long his support for football is not questionable. The only thing that he has is a question – why come to the fore now? On Sebego, the analyst says, he has done reasonably well and must not be judged by the unfortunate developments that happened under his watch. He, however, says Sebego has been lukewarm during his tenure and was too trusting and never wanted to intervene in time. The race for presidency looks set to go to the wire. The three campaign teams all are confident of a victory and are currently leaving no stone unturned in soliciting for votes.