In our Tuesday edition we carried a story in which the secretary of the Debswana First Division South Sidney Magagane lamented the challenges of shortage of suitable facilities.
This was in response to an incident in which an injured Broadhurst United striker, Mmoloki Lenamile lay for close to 20 minutes before he could be assisted.
The club’s medical team tried to help only to realise he needed hospital assistance. But ,without a stretcher in sight, or an ambulance, it took volunteers, who are not even trained in first aid, to carry him a distance of about 200 metres to the waiting vehicle.
Moreover, the venue, the Sharps grounds, does not have any access point for vehicles, presenting another challenge. As difficult as it is for our teams and the football governing bodies, some things cannot be compromised and we urge all the stakeholders to act immediately. The Botswana Football Association (BFA) should do all to ensure that safety of players and spectators is given priority at all levels. Most young players start their careers at lower divisions and not many parents will willingly allow their children to play for these teams when they see such incidents.
The BFA president, Maclean Letshwiti recently said nothing has been done for football in the past 51 years and seeing an injured player carried like a bag of cement in this day while there is a P6 million sponsor confirms his assertion. Now he must walk the talk and ensure that basics are provided to restore confidence in the game.
The Footballers Union of Botswana must also be proactive and not wait to issue statements after an incident has occurred. We need to see the union lobby stakeholders, including fans, to stand with their members and ensure football continues being the most followed sport in Botswana.
We also urge clubs to do all they can to lobby sponsors for basic amenities that would preserve lives. We have had cases where players died on the field of play and during training sessions. As hard as it maybe, there are things we cannot compromise on.
Teams should have medical teams at all games and practice matches. Where possible, they should also come together and have plans with emergency medical services to ensure speedy response from anywhere around the country.
The government should also not be left behind and support safety in all sports codes. We need to inject resources into sports and view it as an alternative employment. In many parts of the world, sports is a lucrative business, run professionally and a serious employer across all levels. To achieve that in Botswana, we have to get our house in order. Seeing there are some clubs across different sporting fields trying and doing good to ensure professionalism, those in charge of football at all levels should up their game.
“Safety first is safety always.”
– Charles M. Hayes