The Football revolution

Dikarabo Ramadubu
Tuesday, 05 September 2017
The Football revolution

• BFA President Letshwiti means business

• P10m for regional development

• BFA to generate P6m by 2020

Worldwide, football is not only a unifying factor, but also a money spinning and profitable venture.

Certainly this is not the current case in Botswana. Although there is an improvement, a microscopic interrogation of strategic pointers indicates that the sport is behind in many respects.

Currently the sport is characterised by poor performances at club and national team levels, heavy debts, qualified accounts, secretariat that lacks vision and drive, conflict of interest amongst some of the national executive members and lack of funds, and resignation of Chief Executive Officers before their term ends. Surely, these and many others serve as a deterrent to local football attracting qualified personnel to occupy strategic positions. 

However, like they say with proper planning and strategy, one can overcome any challenge. But, those times seem to be over at Lekidi- the Botswana Football Association headquarters. Having realised that all stakeholders and office bearers have failed football in their first year of office, BFA president and reputable businessman Mclean Letshwiti has taken total control like a captain of a sinking ship. 

The latter depicts himself not as a ceremonial head, but a no-nonsense leader out to sweep clean and bring results as well as turnaround the sport of football as evidenced by his NEC’s strategic plan that envisages to generate an additional P6 million in revenue for Botswana Football Association by 2020. 

Having realised that his committee has not  achieved much despite having a strategic plan in place, Letshwiti bit the bullet and decided that the BFA should not invite a guest speaker at the immediate past congress because in his view, there was nothing that football could share with an outsider.

At the congress, he diverted from the tradition of giving a speech, but rather gave a concise report in the form of a lecture, challenging all and sundry to pull up their socks and serve football or else ship out.

Further, in a move that stands to make BFA creditworthy, Letshwiti took a bold step and called off the presentation of the BFA accounts to congress, citing non-compliance of the accounts with both BFA and FIFA constitutions. In years past, accounts have never complied with FIFA Manuals, but were ratified by the congress so that there is ‘progress.’ 

This time, new auditors have been engaged to normalise the situation; they are currently auditing all the organs of the BFA including the Botswana Premier League (BPL). Hopefully this will help BFA to receive FIFA funding. The latter insists on receiving audited accounts before they can release the next funding which usually is done in batches. 

Reliable sources told this publication that the employment of CEO Ookeditse Malesu who left office yesterday (Thursday August 31st) has been identified as the source of the friction between BFA NEC members.

BG News has it in good authority that although he was interviewed Malesu was rated second best by the interviewing panel. The successful candidate was Mokgethi Magapa, but the financially struggling BFA could not match his package.

Malesu unfortunately became a victim of circumstances owing to lack of support from his supervisors. Of the top three members of the executive, only Letshwiti preferred Malesu to take over as CEO considering the time lost during the absence of a CEO, whilst others wanted the post to be re-advertised. 

It is said friction between some of the top BFA executives started during the campaign for NEC positions. The rift between some NEC members and Malesu widened because the latter is not a pushover. He resisted orders and, or challenged instructions that appeared to benefit individuals instead of the game of football.

This led to the inexperienced, but equally effective Malesu finding himself in the deep end such that when he erred, there was no one to correct him. This led to the present committee failing to fully implement its strategy in the first year.

Although he did not mention anything about the existing friction within the NEC, Letshwiti told delegates that it is time for all to work together for football progress and that anybody who opposes football progress must quit.


Road to success

Letshwiti told delegates that BFA business is left behind and it is time to fully implement the Strategy which is based on his campaign for the president. In order to show they mean business, the BFA has decided to put more emphasis on development and as a start this time around 80 percent of the BFA budget for the current financial year will go to the regions.

He said his association has already secured a P3million sponsorship from DC Tours. Each regional structure will be given P50, 000 as mobilisation fee for their administration duties.

He further pledged P10 million for grassroots development at regional level which comes from FIFA funding so that football can be developed from the grassroots for both boys and girls in order to make strong national teams for the future.


Cancellation of women leagues

Although there are many women’s teams in the country, women have not been given the attention they deserve, and this leads to their poor performance at international level. The women league has been played on bad grounds, at times without match officials. At national level, the women team always loses to opponents by high margins.

Based on this, Letshwiti’s administration took an unpopular decision not to sponsor the women’s league and instead channel the money to grassroots development starting from primary schools in order to increase the number of women participating in football as well as form a string base for future national teams. The next move will be to have women’s league played at regional level between now and 2019, then establish leagues in partnership with other stakeholders such as BOPSSA and BISA.  

Just like it is done with the men, the BFA will also establish regional first division women’s leagues between 2018 and 2019 and later establish women’s premier league in 2019-20.


The strategy

The BFA 2017-2020 Strategy that stands to improve all levels of football was developed by members of the BFA National executive committee (NEC). It was developed through a consultative process which included Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Secretariat, Regional Football Associations, National Leagues, standing committees and all key stakeholders. 

It also incorporates inputs from relevant legislation, policy framework and related documents, such as the BFA constitution, Sports, and Recreation Policy, National Excellence Strategy, Ministry of Empowerment, Youth Sports and Culture strategic plan.

The strategy is aligned to the Botswana National Sports Commission 2013-2028 circle spinning from 2017 to2020.

Amongst key factors were to determine the strategy direction, describe, translate, align management to the strategy and manage performance. There were expectations and concerns raised during the development of the strategy. 

Amongst the expectations were that the strategy will develop football in Botswana in all its various structures and facets, and that there will be a change in the participants mindset. School football will also be included in the BFA Strategy.

The BFA balanced scorecard as of the end of 2016 paints a gloomy and  demoralising picture, while millions of pula have been spent in camping, meals and travel. Also there has not been any good results coming from all nation teams and local clubs that registered to compete in continental competitions.

The BFA score board for the strategy 2013-2016 indicates that its strategic objective was to improve athlete performance, with the strategic goal being to increase performance rating at zonal, continental and world levels.

Key indicators being Olympics games ranking, COSAFA Under 20 men and women, COSAFA senior men and women, CAF Championships, premier league clubs participating, CAF Under 17 boys and girls, U20 boys and girls, AFCON competition. But the results show dismal failure as in almost all the cases our teams exited the competition during the preliminary stage despite the set targets of getting gold or reaching group stages. 

The only better performance was reaching the finals of the COSAFA tournament and winning silver by the senior national team. The best performance was registered with Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) Zone 6 where Botswana got a ranking of an improved athlete performance.

Equally disturbing is that BFA failed to achieve its set objective of increased high profile event hosting, sanctioned zonal, continental and world events. BFA failed to increase the number of women participating in sports as evidenced by the key point indicator where the league was regional in Southern parts with two teams dominating. The BFA also failed to come up with national league. 

The BFA failed to increase participation of people living with disabilities playing football. Although PASSPBO proposed a friendly match with Zebras U20, the proposal was shot down because there was no team in camp.

Besides the teething problems experienced, the present administration seems focused and ready to accomplish its mission. Under the  learning and growth perspective, their aim is to train 20 grassroots coaches per region, train 60 grassroots referees per region, establish specialist coaches at grassroots level, establish 20 youth coaches, conduct administrative staff  training, establish youth policy, establish Under 19 reserve league by the end of 2017.  

The NEC also intends to consolidate all grassroots development programmes into one. Under the stewardship indicator, the BFA will register an investment arm as well as strengthen governance structures for managing relationships with sponsors.

Letshwiti looks set to achieve the BFA mission statement and provide a well-resourced and effective football delivery system that will improve the football industry and contribute to the economy of Botswana. But, good as it sounds on paper, it begs the question, how will the absence of a CEO affect the implementation of the strategy?

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