The Botswana season ended this past weekend with the Final of the last Coca Cola Cup. This was the end of the season that started last year in August. Our season was scheduled to end by May but we ended two months later than that. A whole two months! In most leagues, the standard is to have a month and a half break and then a few weeks of pre-season training to gear up for the upcoming season. Not in Botswana, the season ended on August 5, and the new season will probably start beginning of September. That means there will only be about four to five weeks break. When do the players rest and when does pre-season start? Pre-season training is very crucial in modern football and is used to ease players into the new season and prepare them for the season ahead. With our mixed-up schedule, we do not have that luxury. I know we have a lot of reasons to justify this mess and abuse, but surely something should have been done to remedy the situation. Some decisions could have been taken in the best interest of the players rather than administrators. The players are what make the League exciting and we should put their interests ahead of anyone else’s interests.
The players will have no adequate rest between seasons and as supporters, we will want them to perform at their utmost best when the season starts. That is unfair, moreso that some of them are youngsters who also work or attend school. There has absolutely been no rest. Players need to stay away from football for a few weeks so they relax, recharge their batteries and have a desire to play football again. In Botswana that is alien, we will have attached seasons with no off-season. For me four weeks is not enough off-season, it is just a break. Worst of all there is a National team training camp that is on and as I write this blog, they are in camp. For these players, it is even worse, as they will have absolutely no rest. For instance a player like Noah Maposa will have to go two seasons without a break. He played week in, week out at GU the whole season, was at AFCON 2012 finals, and is now in camp ahead of the 2013 AFCON qualifier against Mali in early September, and immediately after that the season starts. Ao banna. Joel Mogorosi and Mogakolodi Tsotso Ngele have recently moved to the Professional South African League. Poor boys, they joined teams whose players were on break from end of May and had a full month’s rest. Mogorosi and Ngele on the other hand have not had a rest. Mogorosi was playing for Centre Chiefs this week in a tense Cup game and next week he is making his debut for Bloemfontein Celtics. The lack of break will eventually catch up with him and his performance will be affected adversely. It is unheard of for someone to play football, or any other sport, for two seasons non-stop, and for some reason such things only happen in Botswana.
I am pretty sure that our football administrators know that the players will suffer severe burnout but they could not care less as they have their own agendas to push. This might sound absurd or ‘unpatriotic’ but I feel it would be a blessing in disguise for some of the players if we were to fail to qualify for the 2013 AFCON finals. Atleast they will have a break. No one should wish for such a thing but as things stand, I’m sure some players would kill for a rest. If we do qualify for the AFCON Finals, we run the risk of having another marathon season that will end in August. However with better planning and management of the League activities the situation could be remedied, but our administrators do not inspire much confidence.
On the whole I see this as tantamount to abuse, moreso that our players are paid peanuts and in most cases their welfare is neglected. Imagine going through the rigors of playing in the top flight League in such a long season and most players in some teams are still owed salaries from 6 months ago. This makes the whole thing even worse, and this well orchestrated, systematic abuse needs to stop forthwith.