The Botswana Softball Association (BSA) and its umpires have reached a common ground following last weekend’s standoff, which forced the cancellation of some league matches.
The BoFiNeT Softball League games were called off last Friday after umpires downed tools over unpaid wages. On Sunday, the officials wrote a letter raising all their concerns to the BSA. The two parties met on Tuesday to iron out their differences. According to the letter, the officials were requesting that the officiating fee be increased from P50 per person per game to P100. “We request for taxi fare when games finish late. We had an incident where an official was mugged after a game. All BSA accredited umpires assigned to officiate outside their area of residence and accommodation is needed, should be paid a fee of P250 per night, meal allowance and transport should be paid upon arrival at the venue of the game,” the letter reads in part.
The officials said through the letter they should be supplied with officiating uniform. The letter revealed that officials exchange gear in succession throughout the day.
“The idea of separating officials as BISA, Police and BDF umpires should come to an end and we operate together under the umbrella of BSA accredited officials. We believe that BSA does not attend to our issues because they know they would get assistance from Police and BDF IX. We see this approach unacceptable and abusive,”
However, umpire in chief, Abel Mataboge explained to Mmegi Sport that the letter was not a demand but rather a ‘list of issues that we wish to address with them.’
BSA vice president, Batsetswe Gontlafetse said he met with the umpires on Tuesday to discuss the grievances. “These issues have been overlooked over a long period of time. We have discussed them and agreed on a way forward. If you remember, for sometime there were no allowances for umpires, they were introduced in recent years. We also agree that the P50 that they are getting is not enough so we agreed to increase it to P70. The accommodation allowance has also been looked into,” he said.
Batsetswe said the challenge that BSA is faced with is lack of sponsorship. He explained that they only have the league sponsorship being BoFiNeT and the amount is not sufficient to cater for officials.
“It is not healthy for umpires to be exchanging uniforms. Officials in the Northern zone mostly do travelling because they cover a large area. We are aware of the risks officials face when games end late hence we agreed that cab fees should be increased. The changes are to be implemented with immediate effect,” Batsetswe said.