There seems to be no end in sight to the Constituency league controversy that has pitted government against National Sports Associations (NSA). Being affiliates of international governing bodies for most sports codes, NSA feel that they have the right to oversee how their respective sports codes are operated and conducted in the country. Government on the other hand has argued that NSA does not have the capacity to oversee the Constituency league.
The recent Sports Pitso held in Palapye provided the opportunity to discuss and resolve the matter. However, It seems like the deadlock between government and NSAs will prevail for now. The Constituency League remains one of president Ian Khama’s most controversial initiatives. Having been in existence for over five years the Constituency league consists of several sports codes including football, volleyball, netball and the recently introduced track and field.
Representing the NSAs at the Sports Pitso, Tsoseletso Magang said the Associations were never consulted when the Constituency League was established. “When you established the Constituency league, you did not think it was worthwhile to empower national Associations. This comes across as government not trusting us to run sport,” Magang said when addressing Sports Stakeholders. Magang said the hot potato issue has split the population, as NSAs have to go out and seek sponsorship while other sporting activities are funded directly.
In response, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Thapelo Olopeng said the Constituency League was not supposed to compete with NSAs. Olopeng said both the NSAs and the Constituency league are under the same ministry despite running parallel.
The minister said the Constituency league was meant to engage the youth and not compete with Associations. Moreover, Olopeng questioned the capacity of NSAs in taking over the Constituency league. “The structure is so informal staring from the ward, constituency and the regional level.”
In addition, Olopeng said the athletics, one of the most successful sporting codes in the country was recently introduced in the Constituency League. As government we need to review the Constituency league and that will come from your recommendations.
Meanwhile the biggest controversy caused by the constituency league involved football when FIFA demanded information on how the Presidential initiative was implemented.