While the Botswana Premier League (BPL) managers took major steps forward, there were also major steps backwards. At the end of the day, most people remember the bad rather than the good. It therefore follows that the Premier League managers should strive to eradicate the many goof-ups, lest they take the gloss off the good work they are doing.
We are in the middle of July and the Botswana football season is the only one in the world that is doing the August to May season that is still ongoing. This, however justified, is not on. I know there are so many reasons that can be advanced as having caused that, but no explanation will convince me. With better administration and better use of the available resources, the season would have long finished, at least a few weeks late, and not two months late. I know there are mitigating factors in all this, but then again, with better management and better use of the available scarce resources, the situation could not have been this bad. We know that the League had to stop because of national team participation at the AFCON finals as well as the shortage of football grounds. But I maintain that with better management, the situation could not have been so bad. Someone needs to smell the coffee and realise that things should change.
I must however commend the Premier League for a job well done in some instances. This time around, except for two or three major disappointments, there were not too many unsavoury incidents that we have become accustomed to. Except for the late finish of the League, the Molepolole stampede and the Rollers – Chiefs one field fiasco, and two other incidenst of teams absconding from games, the season went relatively well. Like I said earlier, people to tend to remember the bad, rather than the good. I must commend the Premier League for a well-rounded product that has improved immensely. The Mascom Top 8 was a breath of fresh air in our football calendar. It is something that we have long been yearning for. Now teams will strive to perform better and finish in the top eight, knowing that there is a chance of a quick buck in the subsequent tournament. However, it seems like no one had planned ahead for the increase in games, hence our season ends in July, when other leagues are about to start. I hope next season, the Top 8 is played right at the beginning of the season.
The Premier League needs to have a tightly knit calendar to ensure that this never happens again. Fair enough, there might be unexpected eventualities, but for the most part, we need to have a set calendar for the whole year that can just be tweaked here and there as we go along, rather than the current situation. The Premier League office needs to sit down with the BFA to ensure that they agree on certain things with regards to the national team commitments. I think FIFA should release its dates well in advance and we should stick to those so that we do not have unplanned for, unscheduled national team camps and games messing up the Premier League schedule. As much as we want the national team to do well, we also want good performance in the Premier League to keep its reputation. The Premier League therefore needs to stamp its authority and reign in the BFA. With better planning and a bit of give and take, the situation could be much better. The Premier League depends on the national team, as much as the national team relies on the Premier League, and they should not be seen to be stepping on each others’ toes. For next season, there needs to be a tight schedule that takes into consideration from the onset, national team engagements and all the cup games. That way, there will be less interference with the fixture list and maybe, just maybe, our league will finish on time.
All said and done, we need to have a smoother Premier League season when the competition starts. The Premier League needs to work hard on eliminating the negatives. I hope Mike Molefhe, or whoever takes over from him as chairman, together with his CEO Bennet Mamelodi, general manager Phuthego Setete and everyone at the Premier League office know that we are watching and they need to pull up their masokise. Not too bad a season, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.