The win by Township Rollers against Police XI on Monday night, to secure a spot in the semi final of the Mascom Top 8, has prevented the tournament exclusively between institutional teams going forward. The possibility, has rekindled a long standing debate on whether institutional teams have unfair advantage over non-institutional teams, which leads to their dominance. This comes at the wake of institutional team dominating this season’s Mascom Top 8 semi-finals. Three institutional teams BDF XI, Orapa United and Jwaneng Galaxy qualified for next round with only Township Rollers being a non-institutional team. Four institutional teams had made it into the Mascom Top 8 competition this season and only one being Police XI suffered a defeat at the hands of Rollers and was eliminated.
Public opinion remains divided in the debate of whether institutional teams have an unfair advantage over the non-institutional ones in terms of resource, hence their continued dominance. Those who hold that view say the institutional teams have all resources like training grounds, equipment and financial muscle at their deposal. They argue that this gives the institutional teams an unfair advantage over the other teams. This to some extent could make sense however even sports analysts are divided on the matter. Some say since BDF XI is under the care of Botswana Defence Force and the other two teams (Galaxy & Orapa) enjoying the support of Debswana they are advantaged. Benjamin Radimo said the three teams do not worry about anything as everything is taken care of by the institutions. “The teams have access to proper facilities like gyms and training grounds. Even transport is taken care of so the teams do not have to worry about anything,” said Radimo.
He argues that looking at the teams that qualified for the semi-finals they all have proper training facilities which could have helped them to reach the next round. Since the league just started Radimo pointed out that because of the stable financials they managed to get good pre-season preparations which are now working for them. “The other teams because they do not have enough resources for proper pre-season they struggled to qualify since their players get into momentum slowly,” explained Radimo. On the other hand Mmoni Segopolo begged to slightly differ with Radimo. Though Segopolo acknowledges that there might be an advantage he said it is not an unfair advantage and it also not that massive. According to him when commercialisation was introduced it was meant for teams to look out for sponsors so that they can ease the pressure they have been in in the past. “If you look on the surface you might think that there is unfair disadvantage but it is not there. If there is indeed unfair advantage these teams could be dominating the league but they are not,” said Segopolo.
The former Zebras and Rollers player continued to say teams must stand up and look for sponsors. He gave an example with Rollers saying if teams start working hard to get partnerships they will do well. With strong words Segopolo cautioned teams not to scare away sponsors but work to put their houses in order. According to him a team can have everything needs but if the house is not in order they cannot achieve anything. “Sometimes it is about how some teams are run that make them successful and nothing to do with the resources they have,” he said. Normally institutional teams are managed well as the institutions not want to be associated with badly run teams lest tarnish their name. Segopolo gave credit to the move by Jwaneng and Orapa teams for merging the teams in their town to form one. He said this has helped them to better manage the teams they formed as well as channel resources well. “Our teams should learn something from this going forward for them to start doing well. Look at how Orapa and galaxy have started doing well after they merged the teams. Before they merged some still benefited from Debswana and they never dominated,” he explained.
BDF XI officials have in the past also disproved the said unfair advantage saying they do not have any advantage over the other teams. The officials argue that the financial support they get form the army is not enough to run the club. They further explained that if there is any advantage it is for the non-institutional teams as they can find alternative sponsors from the business community.