BFA cut its nose to spite its face

The Botswana Football Association’s (BFA) recent decision to take back the independence it had granted the Botswana Football League represents a setback for the local league.

The BFA had made strides by granting the Botswana Premier League autonomy, resulting in the formation of a company, the BFL. However, the autonomy came with its teething challenges, which is to be expected. Again it appeared there was smooth transition, the only challenge being rabble-rousing individuals more than in the nuts and bolts of the BFL structure. No one, even within the BFA can point to what is wrong with the BFL as an organ. All the issues point to man-made rather than structural problems. The BFL structure looked solid enough. Yes, the systems could be strengthened to address lingering governance issues or improve oversight. Individual fights or egos should not always be mistaken for dysfunctions within an organization. Otherwise this could lead to a misdiagnosis. What the BFA has done is akin to cutting its nose to spite its face, or the classic case of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

The BFL has functional structures that include the board, shareholders and an operational secretariat. What was needed was a wholesome review of the operation at the end of the season and identify areas where the organ could be strengthened. To take away autonomy is just too radical and could prove counterproductive. While the BFA would argue that this is a temporary measure meant to restore normalcy, it made more sense to repair rather than withdraw. What if, say in a season or two, the BFA decides to restore BFL’s autonomy and similar issues spring up, will they again take back the independence? It is like taking five steps forward and five steps backwards. Essentially it’s back to square one for the BFA and the Premier League. What was needed was to look at the BFL’s supreme document; the constitution, and strengthen certain provisions that will make the administration of the league watertight. Clubs can always be capacitated as an ongoing project. There was no need to bring the bus to a halt to carry out minor repair works. There is no guarantee that when this autonomy is finally handed back, all the nagging issues will have been solved.

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