Gloves are already off ahead of the Botswana Football Association’s (BFA) presidential race as two long term rivals, incumbent President Maclean Letshwiti and his predecessor, Tebogo Sebego this week criticised each other’s term of office.
Should health authorities permit come August 8th this year the two will once again face each other for the presidential post four years down the line after Letshwiti defeated Sebego in 2016. The duo will be joined by another contender, former BFA CEO, Ookeditse Malesu who was unreachable this past week. The three candidates who have already submitted their names before the BFA Electoral Committee Board are hopefully awaiting approval of the board which was still in a vetting process of all the 22 aspiring candidates.
Sebego of a camp popularly known as ‘friends of football’ says their manifesto is complete and they will soon unveil it. He indicated that they are still awaiting approval of their candidacy by the electoral committee board before they can start to freely talk about their plans. “We are a little bit frustrated because elections are exactly a month away and we were hoping that by now vetting process would have been completed and we would have already started to speak openly about what we have to offer,” the attorney told The Patriot Sport.
Quizzed about how he sees the growth of local football Sebego criticised that the state of football in the country after his departure has drastically dropped. “Since I left office our football has regressed its only that our current leadership is in denial,” said Sebego as he fired salvos at Letshwiti’s camp. To substantiate his point Sebego highlighted the country’s current FIFA ranking position compared to when he was still in office.
“When I left we were standing at number 86 but right now we are positioned 148 and this should prove to you that indeed we are regressing because FIFA rankings are used to determine if the country is performing well or not,” Sebego argued.
Sebego also lamented that despite FIFA having increased their annual financial support to Botswana almost four times from the time when he was in office the current leadership has still failed to seamlessly run their developmental programmes. “In the past FIFA was giving us just about P2.5 million and with that amount we were expected to run almost everything and we were still able to complete and run a couple of projects. But because today FIFA gives us over P10 million per year we should be showing four times value from where we were,” he critically compared. Sebego who promises to develop the local football fraternity criticised the current leadership of being clueless about what they are doing in office.
In response Letshwiti says it is a sign of not understanding what football is all about for those who are saying local football has not been growing. He noted that as the incumbent they had to restructure the local football from the previous manner in which it was poorly operated. According to him, they had to take a step back and look at the professional way of growing football noting that even the dropping of the country’s FIFA ranking was a deliberate move.
“They had to drop because we had to build a structure that will sustain the growth of our football and ensure that we climb ranks consistently even up to the qualifying of the World Cup,” Letshwiti defended. “What have they done with their ranking , what did they win because even before we used to go to COSAFA just to participate we couldn't even score a goal, but today our youth leagues when they go to COSAFA they compete they don’t just participate,” he also took a jab at Sebego’s camp.
Letshwiti complains that before he came into football his predecessors were only focused on the premier league and national team neglecting development of other football structures such as the youth,coaches, referees and women’s football. He argues that Botswana is currently now on the right track in terms of development noting that the bulk of their money goes to youth development not to the national team or the premier league. It is his believe that a robust youth development structure will boost performance of the national football. “This is our approach, a sustainable total football growth because if you do not have a strong foundation you cannot talk about the growth of football,” he stressed.
Letshwiti also revealed that bankruptcy and very low standards of governance were some of the major challenges he encountered when he joined the association. “We had to make sure that the association is financially viable and attractive to sponsors and also make sure that everything within BFA compliance to the FIFA statutes.”