After a two-year absence, the rugby league returns this weekend with action lined up in Gaborone and Francistown.
Hogs were the last side to win the league title after finishing ahead of BDF Cheetahs and Canon Jaguars respectively. The new season sets off amid a few changes from the executive committee structure to sponsorship.
Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) president, Sean Irish said they are relieved to get the league running, despite financial challenges.
“The start of the league is a relief for both the organisation and the players. We have been working hard to find sponsors and give the league all the necessary support and we will appreciate all the help we can get,” he said.
BRU has thus far managed to get P100,000 worth of sponsorship from BOC Insurance Brokers together with the financial assistance they get from Nashua. However, the sponsorship money will mostly be used for the national team and the Vultures training camps for upcoming international tournaments.
Due to limited funding for the league and the impact of COVID-19 on clubs, Irish said they hope to come up with ways to help clubs stay afloat. At the moment, he said, clubs survive through gate-takings and match-day activities.
The journey to resuscitate Botswana rugby is a long one but it is a challenge BRU is ready to take on, Irish said. The start of the league will give players motivation to workout with intention, get back into required diets and have a sense of a rugby routine.
BRU will also start the reserve league, the super rugby, and the Women’s 7s. Even though the resumption of the league is appreciated across the board, some of the teams have lost players due to age, injuries, and a general loss of interest due to inactivity.
BDF cheetahs manager, Modesto Madzambi said they hope the league will find a sponsor because it is not motivating for players and it is difficult for clubs financially. He said lack of finance has led to the collapse of clubs such as Maun Dogs, Taskers, Selebi-Phikwe and Metsimotlhabe.
Irish's committee, which came into office in 2020, has Farid Pandor as the vice president-administration, Elijah Kokoro, who is the vice president-technical, Tsiane Boitshoko as the secretary, and the women’s representative, Gorata Kgathi. The latter replaced Naledi Dikgomo Goulden.