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First Division likely to lose Debswana sponsorship

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BFA president Tebogo Sebego remains optimistic that Debswana will renew its P2 million sponsorship for the First Division North and South league.

The three – year deal expires at the end of this season. Sources close to both camps say that by end of last season Debswana had already indicated to BFA that it was unlikely to renew the sponsorship citing certain contractual infringements.

The agreement was that BFA must give Debswana mileage through proper packaging which included stadia branding and live broadcasts of first division matches as well as negotiating with national television broadcaster to feature a weekly first division magazine show.

These would have promoted the giant mining company by showing how diamonds benefit locals. Sadly, the sponsor feels this has not happened. Games continued to be played without branding the sponsor in first division grounds with the sponsor only getting mileage as title sponsors whenever there were media reports on their fixtures and results.

In a kneejerk reaction calculated to assuage the sponsor, BFA is said to have rushed to the premier league office seeking space for parameter advertising in live broadcasts of beMOBILE fixtures to include Debswana and other BPL strategic partners like Huawei and Grand Palm.

Although BFA president has attributed the rift with the sponsor to lack of experience by some of the handlers, there are reports that Debswana is not happy with how the whole deal went through.

Debswana sponsorship has resurrected and brought life to first division. The level of competiveness and excitement has greatly improved as has the level of officiating. Referees were paid P580 per fixture while teams were given a once off P50 000 grant to supplement their budget. Not only did this ease their financial burden but it helped the teams to scout and sign quality players from lower  tier leagues and in some cases even the premier league.

Sources within Lekidi told BG Sport that in its desperation, the BFA now wants to move the national first division under the ambit of the BPL office so that it can be given the necessary attention that the premier league is giving the beMOBILE sponsorship.

Contacted for comment on developments around the sponsorship, BFA president Sebego said: “Debswana sponsorship negotiations have already started. My CEO is handling the matter and I am confident that Debswana will continue with their sponsorship.” But some first division officials who didn’t want to be named expressed frustration at the way BFA is handling the matter.

One said that should Debswana pull out it would lend a death blow to first division as they’ll no longer be able to pay referees, sign quality players or buy their teams proper training equipment, bottled water and energy drinks. Another official said that if renewed the BFA should allow the first division national committee to manage the sponsorship.

He said that first division has capable and qualified people from different professional backgrounds who can manage and give sponsors value for their money. For the first time in its history, first division teams that got promoted to the premier league were very competitive and have not been relegating unlike in the past when they would relegate the same season.

Sankoyo Bush Bucks, Miscellaneous and Orapa United –which have all graduated from First Division – bear testimony to the role played by Debswana in the lower division league.

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Local hockey body to incur massive financial loss post Covid-19

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Botswana Hockey Association (BHA) President Unaswi Matebu has confessed that her Association will suffer major financial losses post the Covid 19 pandemic that has left the sport fraternity at a standstill.

Matebu recently told this publication that the current situation does not only have tremendous effects on their schedule, but also there will be financial implications more especially that the association does not have full time sponsors.

“We had to cancel most of our calendar activities such as tournaments, national team trainings, Board meetings, and club activities since mid-March this year, all of which have cost us money to prepare for,” Matebu remarked in an interview.

Additionally she said the planning phase for their 5-year Development Plan which was supposed to be launched in June will have to be postponed. Also there are national competitions that were postponed till further notice despite them having already set up teams and having already started preparing.

“Our Indoor Hockey Senior National teams had already started preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations – a World Cup qualifier – that was supposed to be held in June, 2020, in South Africa. Our Field Hockey Senior National teams had already begun preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that were supposed to be held in August, 2020 in Zimbabwe,” she added.

Moreover, it was going to be an excessively detailed and decorated year  for local hockey governing body, with the Youth National teams having  already began preparations for the Africa Youth Championships that were billed for September, 2020, in Ghana.

“Player conditioning has obviously been affected because athletes are currently not training as planned and what we had achieved so far might go to waste. We are only hoping that the Continental and World Hockey governing bodies will give us enough time to prepare for these competitions post the pandemic.”

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BFA will not declare the season null and void – yet

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Amidst wide spreading fears that Botswana’s top flight league might be canceled and considered null and void because of the crippling Covid-19 pandemic, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) has yet to make a determination on the matter and has in fact ruled out scrapping off the season altogether.

Local football observers and pundits alike have already started talking of the possibilities after similar considerations of nullifying their seasons were made in the leagues of other countries especially in Europe.  No football activity has taken place in the country since social distancing measures were imposed to avoid the spread of the corona virus.

Local football pundit Fabian Zulu is one of those who believe there is a likelihood the football season will be nullified. “If the current situation persists, then there is a high possibility of declaring the league null and void. This situation wasn’t planned, no one knew that by now we would be facing this kind of situation; so the possibility is very high.

However, in an interview this week, BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane said the association has not considered canceling and nullifying the season as an option yet, adding that “currently we are observing a period of extreme social distancing, the ministry  of health and wellness will obviously give advice on the possibility of getting back to football.”

Consequently the BFA still awaits the Ministry to declare that the risks of spreading the virus are reduced and come up with a contingency plan. “If the ministry says there is a reduced health risk we will play out the season; if they advise against it we will then see what steps to take. The health of our players is more important and we will be guided by the responsive authorities,” Mpatane remarked.

However, suspension or cancellation of the leagues across the world seems inevitable even as some European leagues, more specifically the English Premier League, are now contemplating a behind-closed-doors campaign to finish off the remaining matches.

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