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My beef with football

KGOSIETSILE NGAKAAGAE
Botswana football is a fraternity into which millions, in taxpayer money, go annually but what does the nation get in return? International publicity? Of course no! We play countries that already know us and which are of no sporting interest to anyone.

They cannot affect our FIFA rankings because they are just as useless as we are. Besides, we are hammered all over Africa from Cape to Cairo, from the bulge to the horn. Instead of medals, we perennially bring back apologies, explanations and hopes for a better future.

Look here, I don’t underestimate the value of football. Football is potentially a big industry capable of forging national unity, boosting the economy and achieving employment creation. But that has only been a pipe dream. In this country, each time you read news on a football job it’s either about a blow job that went viral or a coach suing for his minimum wage.

Our football administrators never publish anything empirical about football’s contribution to the national economy let alone to socio economic welfare. Nor do the constituency league administrators, whatever it is. We cannot speak of return on government investment into football in spite of the fact that such investment runs into tens, if not hundreds of millions, of taxpayer money over many years.

I am and have always been of the opinion that codes should be allocated public money based on performance at the very least and on returns on investment at best. Those who get government money and bring no results should, just like the unfortunate Limkokwing student, be failed and discontinued. Football must pull up its socks or be axed from public spending.

Now, mine is an unpopular argument. But then, that’s the very point. I don’t mind if those concerned get pissed off really so long as I am telling the truth. Only then will we see positive steps being taken to ensure results. In its current state, football is nearly useless except as town or village entertainment. And who can say we are being entertained when we are being hammered all the time. If allocations were results based, a code like football would get nearly nothing for next year. Now, that would be good. Very good, I must say.

This code has been reliant on government money too long and has not been able to grow itself into an industry capable of self-sustenance. The better part of its energies have gone towards election fights and boardroom brawls.  I expect picketing outside my house later today. I expect to find my car scratched and tyres flat but we know it is true that we have not had a return on investment with football. Government must start demanding results for its money as a precondition for further financing.

The Zebras hardly ever win

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anything beyond a friendly with a fellow Southern African football nonentity. How many times, in the past 10 years, has a Zebras player stood on a podium to sing our national anthem let alone to receive a bronze medal?  How many full time jobs have been generated out of the beautiful game? How has the code used its enormous appeal to help in tackling socio economic ills like gender based violence if it cannot be of economic significance?

Make no mistake about it, I am a football fan. Township Rollers are my team. Mahalapye Hotspurs too. But I think we are wasting money on a sports code which to borrow the words of a past American president, is like a baby.  An alimentary canal with a huge appetite on one end and no sense of responsibility on the other.  Botswana football is just another Ipelegeng scheme and doesn’t look set to change anytime soon.

If I am lying, show me our 10-year graph in world rankings. Show me its contribution to the economy. If you cannot, please hold your peace.  Indeed, we must give our football administrators all the financial support we can. But we must just as well demand results.

Codes like Karate should get better funding and publicity because they do bring home medals every now and then. Athletics should get more.

Their potential has never been fully explored but is self evident. Of course they don’t have the draw that football has. But then, they bring home medals.

I am not unmindful that occasionally we have had some really good footballers who have entertained on the South African stage, even the American stage. Tribute to them.

I bow in respect. But we are still number three thousand five hundred and fifty nine in FIFA rankings and tell me it is getting better. It is time we manage football better or find a way to cut our losses.

Which reminds me of Botswana girls. Now, I like beauty pageants. They may not fit the traditional definition of sport but let us not forget that we have already won us a World Cup. We have, again, won bronze on the world stage and gold on the continental stage.

I will rather we spend the football allocation on expensive make up, swimsuits and free gym access for Botswana ladies until the boys can string six uninterrupted passes. We might just be able to grow the beauty industry and to create a few jobs with money we would otherwise have wasted shooting at the stands.



Chief On Friday

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