Sport has largely been viewed as a lion’s den, where angels fear to tread. One’s reputation can be devoured mercilessly within a blink of an eye, while for the rest of the pride, life rumbles on. Despite the not-so-welcoming environment, where daggers are constantly drawn, sport has seen the arrival surprise visitors, writes Mmegi Sport’s MQONDISI DUBE
Out of the blue, Mochudi Centre Chiefs, this week, announced, arguably their biggest signing in the club’s history. Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) chief executive officer, Thapelo Tsheole has joined the stuttering club as president. It was the best piece of news for a club that is desperate for a lift.
Tsheole’s arrival comes hard on the heels of Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) CEO, Thabo Thamane grabbing the Botswana Softball Association’s (BSA) top post. It has been a rare four months for sports which has made a big kill, but will the ‘angels’ survive in an unforgiving environment?
Sport has traditionally been marred by incessant back-stabbing and even violent physical fights. Motions of no-confidence are the order of the day, and the ‘next meal’ is not even guaranteed as vultures hover menacingly above. Thamane can attest to the treacherous nature of sport. Only the savage are believed to have the capacity to survive. When Botswana Football Association (BFA) president, Maclean Letshwiti, a businessman of repute, ran for office in 2016, he said he was inundated with calls from people who were asking what he was doing in sport. Impeccable men and women with the desire to serve sport, have often been harrowed by the horrific tales of how some administrators have been hounded out of office. The genesis of these fights is usually nothing but petty fights over positions.
But Tsheole is not concerned about the soiled reputation of sports. “Mine is a ceremonial position. Some people wanted me to be the chairperson, but I have a lot on my plate. I acceded voluntarily as my aim is to put the club in a better position,” Tsheole told Mmegi Sport.
He said some have enquired why he joined Chiefs, wondering if he harboured political ambitions, with the 2019 general elections approaching. “Mochudi Centre Chiefs has been requesting me to join them in the last two years. I was born in Mochudi and I played football. There have been repeated requests and they even sent elders, and ordinarily I would not turn them down,” he said.
Tsheole, credited with a period
“I knew there was a lot of bickering but I am hopeful that will be resolved.”
He believes it is critical that the corporates join sport to lend their support and impart necessary leadership skills.
“I am here to provide leadership and corporate governance. That’s where leadership comes in,” he said. Tsheole said corporates can assist teams in attracting funding as well addressing internal squabbles. Chiefs have been in financial dire straits since the departure of investor, Sayed Jamali two seasons ago, with the club failing to regularly shell dues to its staff members. Ultimately, the team fell out of the top eight last season, finishing 10th, their worst position in more than a decade.
Despite his high profile, Tsheole said the Chiefs family should not expect the magic wand instantly. “I am not a messiah, but I will do the best I can to help,” he said.
Tsheole oversaw the historic listing of the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL), which transformed from a parastatal to a private company.
Despite his reputation, Tsheole said he is not interested in other leadership positions within football. “That is why I preferred a ceremonial post, but I will be able to influence change. We must have a proper structure and strategy.” He denied that the entry of Thamane into sports, influenced his decision to be on board at Magosi. While Magosi and sport will feel Tsheole will add undoubted value, the battle scarred foot soldiers might be sharpening their knives ready to test the new ‘angel’s’ resolve, as sport has never been short of its ‘Royal Rumble’ moments.
In fact, across town, Tsheole’s counterpart, Thamane, has come to terms with the rugged nature of sport, as barely three months in, and before the first inning is over, he faces a motion of no confidence. The ‘danger’ warning signing has been flashed right in Tsheole’s face, with a sink or swim option up next.