The Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) president, Onalethata Tshekiso has said that pushing for players’ development programmes is top of his priority list as he seeks another term at the helm of the union.
Tshekiso said with this initiative, he wants to see more players building their careers after football. “Very soon we will be signing yet another memorandum of agreement with one of the institutions for scholarship opportunities to cater for diverse educational interests. Through this institution’s multiple centres across the country, we hope to see more of our members getting training, which will give them enough skills needed to face life even after they stop playing football,” Tshekiso said.
He added beyond this month, the union will see how best players can utilise the second part of its relationship with Botho University.
The institution gives FUB 100 slots a year on short-term training. He also said in the future they will see the long-planned business fair where their members will come into a single venue and showcase their products and services to members of the public. “We also hope to tap into the welfare fund that was long promised by the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and to finally roll out the insurance cover to our members. We are currently in preliminary talks with both the BFA and the Botswana Football League (BFL) around the renewal of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and the Recognition Agreement as this will enable us to secure more services for our members,” he said.
The welfare fund was set up in order to deal with instances where players have lost potential future earnings owing to career-ending injuries. It is also set to offer empowerment programmes to current and former players during other times of need. The CBA the FUB had with the BFA has since expired and Tshekiso revealed the two parties are in talks to renew it. He said another twist was brought by the autonomy of the BFL, meaning some of the items contained in the expired CBA will have to be taken up with the BFL. “As a matter of urgency, these two documents will have to be put to bed as soon as possible. You will note that the CBA with the BFA and the Competition Rights Agreement with BFL will set the tone on our working relationship with these two organisations,” he said.
Tshekiso also said the current situation faced by players after almost 18 months of no football is bad. He said the socio-economic damage brought by this lack of activity on the players have long-lasting consequences. He said some players have since decided to move on with their lives. “Football is about relationships. A player develops a relationship with the ball, his or her teammates, his coaches and then you get club cohesion. All these cannot survive 18 months,” he said.
Tshekiso said it is time for all stakeholders to sit down and come up with solutions. The local football leagues have been on the sidelines since March last year. Only the national teams and two representatives in CAF competitions have been able to kick the ball. Tshekiso said this does not sit well considering that Botswana might be among the few African countries that have not returned to play. “Strangely, we only play football to satisfy either CAF or FIFA and the questions we keep asking ourselves are; does the virus affect football only when dealing with the local league or that players become immune to the virus when they play for the national team and in CAF competitions?” Tshekiso urged the new BFL to look at ways in which football clubs can sustain themselves.
He said clubs should get more grants to be able to run well, thus also improving the welfare of players. He suggested players must step up and realise that the change Botswana football needs is in their hands. “They are providing a service and they need to be rewarded for that. They should stop thinking that they are done a favour when they are offered contracts. Lastly, they need to also know that theirs is a very short career with no guarantees and certainty, so they should always develop a longer career. They need to create something they can fall back on when the need arises,” he said. Efforts to get the views of another presidential candidate, Koko were futile at the time of going to press as he did not respond to the enquiry sent to him.