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Sua Flamingos flunk premiership opportunity

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Sua Flamingos Football club who finished third in the Debswana Northern First Division league behind Ecco City Greens have themselves to blame for failing to sail through to the beMobile Premiership for next season.

A former first team player (names withheld) could not hide his disappointment at the team’s current position. The player said that when the first round resumed under the tutelage of Zimbabwean gaffer Elias Chinyemba, the team made a vow to gain automatic promotion to the top league of the country.

“As players we had a bond which was fuelled by the need to win all our games, but just before the end of the first round, the team management informed us that they wanted to beef up the team with premier league material,” the player said. He revealed that when they went to collect their cheques for December 2015 during the holiday break, they were surprised to find letters releasing nine of them from the team only to learn later that the coach was also given the boot.

“The decision to dismantle a team with a winning combination together with its head coach at the end of the first round was unwise on the part of management,” the player explained. When reached for a comment, the Chairperson of the club Bashi Albion Joseph explained that when the team gained promotion from the Division One to the Debswana First Division North, they set themselves a goal of grabbing 24 points in each round.

“We never said that we wanted to enter the premiership league straight away as we were aware of the fact that we are newcomers in the league. People normally look at the log and get excited and think that the team will make it only for them to be disappointed. We understand that we have fans all over and they have to know that the players that we released were not performing and as a team building for the future, we needed to beef up our squad to compete with the best.

As for our aim of collecting 24 points in the first round we made it but failed in the second round as we collected 16 points and lost nine. One of our players we released due to school commitment is Lapologang Motlogi who is a frequent goal scorer at Motlakase Power Dynamos,” he said.

Joseph added that their former coach Chinyemba was not fired but that, “We experienced problems with his papers as his work permit was for a second division team called Mega.Com.

“We asked the team to lend us the coach since at that time we were in desperate need of one. The team owner agreed as he said that he was owing Chinyemba some money and the new arrangement would relieve him of pressure. When the owner realised that we were doing well he then started to blackmail us  saying we should give him cash until the coach was arrested by the police and some immigration officials who informed us that it was wrong for us to have used a coach we did not have any work permit for.

However, we were warned. So we never fired the coach as there are lots of allegations making rounds to blame us of failure to gain promotion to the top league of the country,” he clarified.

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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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