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Desperate players await relief fund payouts

KOKETSO KGOBOGE
In limbo: Players are waiting for relief fund payments PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
PALAPYE: Desperation is setting in amongst national league players who are yet to receive their payments from the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development relief fund.

The ministry pledged to assist Premiership and First Division league players through the fund, in a bid to cushion them against the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The deadline for submission of documents for eligibility to the fund from the teams to the BFA was June 4, 2020. The teams said players have begun to ask questions owing to the delayed funds. Botswana Football Association (BFA) general manager, Monnakgotla Mojaki acknowledged the delay. He said some clubs that did not submit complete documents at the set deadline causing the delay. He said only one of the First Division North side completed its submission this week.

Mojaki said both the BFA and Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) understand the urgency and had set dedicated teams that deal specifically with the issue to speed up the processes.  He said all the clubs have received acknowledgement of receipt of documents from BNSC. “We understand the urgency, and I don’t think there should be any desperation. BNSC has sent acknowledgement letters to the teams and the processes are at the ministry. The players would be paid,” he said.

Santa Green president, Thaka Chiwita said they were amongst the first clubs to submit all required documents hoping the process would be efficient.

Chiwita said his players were stranded and had started knocking at their doors. He said they made follow-ups with relevant authorities, but have not received responses. “It has been a while since the closing date of submissions, and with the season pronounced over we are all wondering what would happen with the relief fund, especially that it has been quiet,” he said. “We are hopeful the ministry would pay the players because we cannot afford anything close to

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what was promised. We are concerned because this would become our responsibility when it doesn’t work out. Unfortunately, we are also affected and have got nothing to offer.” Francistown City Greens chairperson, Blessed Mahwa whose side is still reeling from the relegation decision, was also crying foul.

“When we make follow-ups, we get unfriendly responses. Sadly, the players look to us to get the answers even though we were left out of that decision,” Mahwa said. He added the lockdown has compounded their challenges, as they could not pay rentals and buy groceries for the players.

“I have moved almost all the players that were renting into my house, so we can at least share the little I have. That is how desperate the situation is with us. We could not afford their rentals and supplies. Supporters have deserted (us),” he said.

The team was on a revival course when coronavirus struck. Mamoja had won four out of their last six games, with two defeats at the hands of champio ns Sua Flamingoes and runner-ups Nico United.  Mahwa admitted the future of the former northern giant was uncertain. “It’s a confusion, only time will tell what would happen to our team,” Mahwa said.

Calendar Stars were optimistic the money would be credited. “We are hopeful players would receive the money. What we don’t know are details of the assessment, whether all our 25 players would receive the relief fund or some did not qualify. It is not clear,” the club’s president, Gosaitse Diboko said. All the teams were yet to receive the relief fund save for Gaborone United. Mojaki said GU was the first team to comply with requirements hence their players were paid.



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