Mmegi Online :: A bad year for Botswana sport
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Friday 22 September 2017, 15:45 pm.
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A bad year for Botswana sport

Without taking anything away from the good job done by the likes of Ross Branch, the AUSC team and Karabo Sibanda, it was generally a bad year for sports both on and off the field, Staff Writers BOITUMELO KHUTSAFALO and CALISTUS KOLANTSHO report
By Boitumelo Khutsafalo Calistus Kolantsho Fri 23 Dec 2016, 18:00 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: A bad year for Botswana sport








 

Ofentse Nato Saga

Botswana football suffered a huge dent this year with the protests and appeals surrounding the registration of Zebras midfielder, Ofentse Nato by Township Rollers.

What started as a mere protest spiralled out of control and saw the image of Botswana football dragged into the mud. Nato, who plies his trade in the Indian League, and had previously signed with Gaborone United (GU) after the end of his season in India, tried to do the same with Rollers this year. However, Gilport Lions and Mochudi Centre Chiefs felt proper procedures were not followed when he joined Rollers following the closing of transfer window.

The issue caused a lot of confusion in the football fraternity with rulings that cancelled out each other. First, the Botswana Premier League (BPL) disciplinary committee (DC) ruled that the player was properly registered, as was a free agent at the time when he signed.

However the Botswana Football Association (BFA) DC later declared Nato a defaulter, reasons being that Rollers applied for his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) after the transfer window had closed. The other reason was that there seemed to be an irregularity in his registration since his registration was backdated although the BPL had argued that it was due to the system currently being used by the office.

The ruling opened floodgates after the BFA DC ordered the BPL to take action against Rollers. The BPL board through its chairperson, Rapula Okaile ordered the BPL secretariat to deduct 10 points from the games that Rollers used Nato, relegating them to position three on the log.

The decision saw Chiefs move to the top of the log standings and were crowned champions. Rollers did not leave it lying down and appealed to the same BPL DC over the board’s decision to deduct 10 points instead of three points.

The BFA DC then released a statement condemning the decision by the Board to deduct 10 points before other teams who filed protests could be heard before the DC. It was then that the protests for Chiefs, Miscellaneous and Police XI were referred back to BPL DC.

Police XI withdrew their protest and Rollers were handed a fine for Chiefs and Miscellaneous protests. Chiefs filed an appeal to the BFA DC which ruled that Rollers be deducted points for matches against Chiefs and Miscellaneous on top of the three points deducted for the match against Gilport Lions.

The result meant Chiefs and Rollers had to go for a play-off to determine the league winner. At the time when many had thought the decision will bring an end to the fracas, the episode was nowhere near the end.

A date for the match was set and with less than 24 hours before it could be played, the Botswana National Sport Council (BNSC) entered the fray, ordering the cancellation of the play-off to allow for players from both teams to join up others in camp for Zebras’ COSAFA preparations. When it was finally to be played, Chiefs brought seven players to the match in Francistown before the match was stopped after an injury to Chiefs midfielder, Arnold Mampori. It was finally played in Molepolole with Rollers winning 5-1 and declared champions.  However the sponsors, BTC (then beMOBILE) refused to release the prize money to the team citing the pending appeal by Rollers at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) as the reason. It was then that Rollers were requested to withdraw the matter so that the season could be closed. The association has said it will ask FIFA to assist in the matter to see if the player was indeed a defaulter or not.

The league continued to attract controversies when referees boycotted some games at the start of the season for unpaid wages. Now three months into the new season, the football fraternity is still struggling to forget the events as evidenced by the low turnout at the games.

 

National teams fail dismally

Botswana’s hopes in all major tournaments and qualifiers were dashed with all the national teams performing well below par. Except for the fact that Zebras reached the finals of the COSAFA Senior Challenge for the first time, where they lost to South Africa, it was generally a bad year for the national teams.  Zebras continued to do badly in qualifiers for the World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). Just this month, the national Under-20 side, which looked promising before its departure to South Africa for the Youth Championship, failed to win a single game at the tournament. They also failed to score a single goal, sending a reminder once again as to how critical it is for the association to look into the issue of proper development structures.

 

Endless court cases,

 suspensions  and dismissals

As if Botswana football image had not been tainted already with issues surrounding the Nato saga and the events leading to the BFA elective general assembly, football has now been frequenting the courts as boardroom battles reached new levels. At the time when the Nato saga was still in full swing, the battle for control of the BPL reached new heights with the board recalling chairperson, Walter Kgabung and his vice, Solomon Mantswe.

The board also suspended the chief executive officer, Bennett Mamelodi for alleged misuse of funds. Mamelodi took the matter to court but was later reinstated before he was suspended again following the ushering in of new BFA national executive committee (NEC).

The two parties are still fighting it out at the courts with Thabo Ntshinogang acting in his position. The arrival of the new BFA regime also saw BFA CEO, Kagiso Kemoeng being suspended before he was fired. Now the BPL finance manager, Bosenogile Mpiwa has also been suspended while the likes of Dintwe Dintwe and long serving BFA technical officer,

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Philemon Makhwengwe left the association. 

Clubs have also decided to fight their battles at the courts with Rollers, GU and Chiefs all having matters before the courts of law. Some disgruntled Rollers supporters who have been fighting for control of the club have returned to court accusing the current leadership of contempt of court. High Court judge, Leatile Dambe had previously ruled that the club be run by the Society and not the company until the club constitution was amended to suit the arrangement where a company can run the affairs of the club.

Their case is set for early next. GU are also fighting before the courts over the legitimacy of the current executive committee led by Rapula Okaile.  They are waiting for the ruling next year. Chiefs are facing the same issue and have been told to go and sort their issue outside the courts. Gilport Lions are now also faced with the same issues. The club is now returning its status to the previous committee, which ran the club as BMC.

 

Rugby

The Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) kicked off the year by ushering in a new leadership in February on a four-year term. The leadership is led by Dave Gilbert who replaced Elijah Jones. One of the main assignments for the committee was to source sponsorship for the league. The league continued without sponsorship. BDF Cheetahs won the A Division in a tightly contested league final against UB Rhinos. BRU wrapped up the season by hosting the Africa Rugby congress in Kasane.

Volleyball

The volleyball season started well with Police VI (men) and Mafolofolo (women) showing intention to run away with the championship. The two sides subsequently won the league. The league welcomed a new team from Selebi-Phikwe.

The Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) received a protest from Dynamites against the fielding of Tracy Chaba of Kutlwano. Dynamites had a good run this season, beating some of the volleyball’s giants along the way.

The youthful side finished in position five with 60 points.  Meanwhile, Police VI and Mafolofolo went all the way to become 2016 Zone VI volleyball champions.

 

Chess

The Botswana Chess Federation had a good year continuing their partnerships with major sponsors such as Debswana and Metropolitan.

The Masters chess tournament proved to be a success and for the first time it was held in two editions. Individual players shined in the region winning themselves titles and medals.

To top it all, local youngsters wrapped up the year on a high note, winning the Africa Schools Chess Championships that were held in Lusaka, Zambia recently.

 

Tennis

The Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) had a stormy year which saw the association being de-registered by thr Registar of Societies for failure to submit their annual returns for 2015/2016.

The executive committee faced stiff controversy as the general members considered them illegal because they had overstayed in office.

The election of new office bearers was expected to have been held in October.

That did not happen as the committee applied to the Registrar seeking to align their constitution with that of the Olympics. The association held an ordinary meeting last month, where a motion of no confidence was to be passed on the committee. The BNSC was called in to intervene and the meeting was postponed to 2017.

 

Athletics

The code sent the biggest team to the 2016 Rio Olympics. The team had a tough time after Baboloki Thebe sustained an injury during hits. The injury sidelined him for the rest of the competition. It was also a blow for Botswana as 800m runner Nijel Amos was eliminated in the preliminary stage of the competition.

The positive achievement was when Karabo Sibanda and the 4x400m men’s team reached the finals.  The team preparations were marred with controversy that included payment of allowances. Despite that, athletics was marred with controversy in the boardroom, leading to the suspension of Holiday Matibini. BAA vice president, Glody Dube also called it a day.

 

Boxing

Boxing failed to qualify for the Olympic Games this time around. This was met by different reactions from different stakeholders. Some commentators observed that the standard of boxing had gone down in the country and something had to be done to take the code back where it belongs. The national championships were held without a sponsor. Despite that, mining giants, Debswana continued to sponsor the annual BoBA awards.

Swimming

The code had its own share of crisis, which saw some parents complaining about the selection of the national team.

They felt that Batswana swimmers were being sidelined when the team was being selected for international competitions. The parents were not happy with the constitution that was being used to run the association. The other thorn in the flesh was that the committee had overstayed in the office. The complaints reached the office of the then Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, Registrar of Societies and the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC). Swimming finally held their annual general meeting where a new committee was elected.

 

Karate

The Botswana Karate Association had a quiet year compared to 2015. Despite some calls for a motion of no confidence against the committee in some quarters, it was not a bad season for karate. The association had set up some sub committees that were given some mandates during their meeting early this year. Some of the assignments included establishing the progress made by Re Ba Bona Ha programme.  As the year ends, none of that has happened. BOKA sent a team to the WKF championships under controversial circumstances. The team did not bring anything back home. The association wound up the year by hosting club championships where Kofukan defended the title they won last year. It remains to be seen how the current leadership will convince the general membership to keep them in office when elections are held next year.

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