The announcement that Debswana Mining Company will sponsor the National First Division League to the tune of P6 million over three years excited officials and players in the second tier structures recently. The windfall could not have come at a better time as several clubs were looking to use the money to clear debts accumulated over the running season. The teams had long been told to expect the sponsorship at anytime this season- and they borrowed money.
Now news emerging from the grounds is that the sponsorship will properly commence at the beginning of next season, and officials are seething in anger. The National First Division North has been the hardest hit as the vastness of the region means that the teams spent a lot of money on transport, accommodation and meals. Their spending was done in anticipation of the grants from the Debswana sponsorship.
In an interview with BG Sports, the Chairman of Great North Tigers (GNT), Thebeetsile Motswaeng said they were in shock after being told that grants from the sponsorship will only be availed next year. “We have accumulated debts hoping that we will receive funds from the sponsorship. Now we are hearing rumours that the money will not be availed this year,” he said. A frustrated Motswaeng said he did not attend the sponsorship launch, as teams were not officially invited. “I am currently in the dark about what is happening with the sponsorship.
Creditors are now lining up to collect money after the sponsorship was announced. Running a team is expensive, we spend a lot on camping, travelling and on food. They should have officially announced that the grants would come late and we would have tightened our belts. If this goes on teams will be liquidated by the time the grants are delivered,” he argued. Tonota FC Chairman Maokaneng Bontshetse shared the same sentiments, arguing that they have not been contacted by the Botswana Football Association (BFA) National Executive Committee on the matter. “We are confused, we do not know what is happening with the sponsorship, there has not been any changes yet,” he said.
Bontshetse said one of the teams’ creditors had taken the team’s mini bus after hearing about the sponsorship. “The thing is that we expected to be consulted about the sponsorship,” he said. Like Motswaeng, Bontshetse lamented that his team’s running costs were astronomical. Despite the confusion, TASC FC Chairman Motshereganyi Leshongwane said the sponsorship was still a welcome development, arguing however that the money would still not be enough to deal with all their expenses. He appreciated however that the loaf fraction was better than no bread at all. Ramotswa based Killer Giants’ Chairman Obed Nokane said the sponsorship launch had been expected as far back as July last year. “Launching the sponsorship late derailed us but we need to be patient. I understand the BFA and Debswana have to set up a committee that will manage the sponsorship matter,” he said.
Contacted for comment, the BFA president Tebogo Sebego said his association and Debswana were working on resolving the matter. He said however that the money was already in the BFA’s account, adding that it was difficult to distribute the grants as the season is about to end. “The sponsorship is likely to apply next season, it will be difficult to apply it now,” he said. The BFA president said the teams are likely to received part of the grant for the remaining part of this season.