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BNOC elections this weekend

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The Botswana sports landscape is expected to change drastically this Saturday when the watershed, Botswana National Olympic Committee elects new leadership in Gaborone. As things stand, there is no clear favourite to succeed long time BNOC president Negroes Kgosietsile, who announced he would not be contesting for the seat this time around.

The five presidential candidates could not be more different, which makes the 2017 elections even more intriguing. Nevertheless, local sports industry observers and sports lovers at large have raised concerns over the unprecedented number of candidates standing for the BNOC executive committee elections. The eclectic candidates vying for the presidential seat include, Ookeditse Malesu. The former military man is the last candidate to enter the race. However, it did not come as a surprise after he lost to Kgosietsile in the last elections.

A no nonsense sports administrator, Malesu brings a lot of experience to his campaign. The ambitious sports administrator has worked for the Botswana Karate Association (BOKA), Botswana Swimming Sports Association (BSSA) and recently Malesu had a short spell at the Botswana Football Association. His multi sport code experience will come in handy against the tough competition.

On the other hand is Botsang Tshenyego, another military man who comes with a huge advantage. Tshenyego is an insider having served under Kgosietsile for the past few years. Tshenyego clearly has an advantage to succeed the outgoing president. He is clearly aware of the strings he needs to pull and the inner workings of the BNOC.

Another interesting candidate in the unpredictable race is Tebogo Lebotse Sebego, the current president of the Botswana Netball Association (BONA). Sebego was a rather shock addition to the race. She has also brought along a new angle to the race, as all of her compaigning team is women Sebego is a shrewd administrator and an over achiever who recently brought the 2017 Netball Youth World Cup (NYWC) to local shores. Sebego is buoyed by this great achievement going into the race.

Moreover, the shrewd sports leader who has led BONA for the better part of the past decade, knows how to pick a team that is built around her vision and goals. Former national team boxer and Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) hall of fame France Mabiletsa comes into the race with an impressive resume. In a recent interview with BG Sports, Mabiletsa outlined his plan for the BNOC and it was quite simply aligned to elite athletes with elite sports administrators.

Mabiletsa has been part of one of the most successful amateur boxing stables in the country, being UB/Tsholofelo boxing club for over a decade. Mabiletsa is also no stranger to the BNOC having been assigned as Chef de mission at one of the recent Commonwealth games. Mabiletsa believes that having been an athlete, a coach and a sports administrator gives him leverage over his competitors. Daniel Molaodi enters the race with another impeccable resume. Molaodi made his bones in the Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF). For the past decade Molaodi has held a leadership position in the BVF as the sport code went from strength to strength. The BVF ran a successful league until recently, losing their league sponsor Mascom Wireless.

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Free at last

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Gaborone United Football Club has finally handed Township Rollers the release letter of its (Rollers) Head coach, Rodolfo Zapata, Sun Sports can confirm.

Since Zapata’s appointment as Rollers head coach last month, he is yet to sit on the bench. GU has been holding tight to Zapata’s work permits that he dumped early this year for a job in Kenya. He then resurfaced last month as Rollers coach but things have been stagnant with Zapata not able to coach as he had an active work permit that needed to be cancelled.

This week, both GU Chairman Boitumelo Nsunge and Zapata confirmed that there has been an exchange of the letter. “Yes we have given him the release letter and agreed to cancel his work permit with GU,” Nsunge said.

The GU chairman however noted that they are still to discuss the alleged debt saying they have asked Zapata to furnish them with prove that indeed they owe him money over P300 000. The news will see Rollers management breath a sigh of relief as they have been trying for several weeks now, to work on the GU Zapata saga.

This publication has been reliably informed that the president of Rollers, Jagdish Shah was running out of ideas and was bound to make a decision regarding the matter some time last week. Actually speculations have been rife that Zapata would soon be replaced before he even starts official work at Rollers.

However as it stands now, anytime is teatime. Rollers is eagerly waiting on the Department of Immigration to process Zapata’s work permit with Rollers. It is not clear if the work permit will be available latest today, which will see Zapata on the bench tonight when they play Notwane Football Club, or the Argentine will have to wait for the year 2019 to start his duties.

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Olopeng’s last answer as sports minister

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Before vacating his office at the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Minister Thapelo Olopeng was confronted with one last controversial question from MP for Francistown Buti Billy last week.

The MP asked about an update on the commercialisation of sport. The issue has been a hot potato since the Botswana National Sports Commission Act was amended in order to professionalise local sports. However, the process has proven to be an uphill battle. The following is an excerpt from the Parliament Hansard in which the former sports minister responded to the question.
Buti Billy (Francistown East): Asked the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development to update this Honourable House on how he is commercialising sport and if there is any strategy in place to carry out that mandate.

Thapelo Olopeng: Thank you very much Mr Speaker. The transition from Botswana National Sport Council (BNSC) to the Commission in 2014 was the first step towards professionalisation of sport in terms of setting up structures. Sport is at different levels of commercialisation in the different sport codes depending on the level of professionalism. We have a number of teams or codes which are already at semi-professional.

In football, several clubs have their players contracted and remunerated as per signed contracts. Sport also sells broadcast rights to generate revenue. Merchandising is another way that sport has commercialised. There has been establishment of local companies that manufacture sport apparel, and these have grown in popularity over the years. We have also witnessed sport such as Boxing, Athletics, and Golf, to name but a few. We witnessed them professionalise their operations and more are expected to follow. In some of the sport codes, individual sportsmen and women play professional sport internationally.

Mr Speaker, the Botswana National Sport Commission Strategy 2028, which commenced in January 2013, is an overarching strategy towards professionalising of sport, and thus commercialisation. The strategy seeks to promote sport excellence and enhance the contribution of sport to the economy. Billy: Supplementary. Ke a leboga Tona. Fa re lebeletse sports in general; all sports codes, a Minister o itumelela gore he had created employment jaaka a bua gore other sports codes di setse di simolotse go dirwa commercial? (Looking at all sport codes in general, is the Minister of sports happy he has created employment as he says with other sport codes becoming commercial)?

Olopeng: Thank you very much Mr Speaker. Thank you very much Honourable Member. Mr Speaker, my answer to that is yes, because just as at Premier League in soccer, we have 16 teams and every player within these 16 teams is on a payroll; they are paid by those individual clubs, that is creation of employment. We have our international athletes, those who participate outside the country at different events; they are paid.

We have other players, our athletes in football, netball and those who are hired by teams outside Botswana, I can just give example of teams in South Africa which have hired our players right here from Botswana and those young boys are paid by these particular teams. We have not reached where we want to reach, that is the reason why we are still developing our strategy of 2028 with Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) to make sure that we turn sports into an industry.

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