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“We are clean”

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The Ides of March’ is the date best known for the assassination of the main protagonist Julius Caesar by Brutus and Cassius in the famous Shakespearean tragedy – ‘Julius Caesar’.

This literary masterpiece best describes the recent political demise of former Botswana Premier League (BPL) chairman Walter Kgabung and his deputy Solomon Mantswe. The two were unceremoniously removed from their positions following a fateful BPL Board of Governors meeting on 26th March following allegations of financial embezzlement.

The pair was not the only casualty as BPL Chief Executive Officer Bennet Mamelodi also found himself in the line of heavy artillery fire. This week both Kgabung, who is Township Rollers’ chairman and Mantswe (Police XI) chairman, called an impromptu press conference in Gaborone to clear their good names.
“We called this press conference, for the purpose of which was mainly influenced by the desire on our part to share our side of the story regarding the circumstances leading to our removal,” Kgabung told the newshounds.

“It is common cause that the Board of Governors met at a meeting on 26th March, as part of a scheduled governance process where strategic decisions are discussed and decided upon in the furtherance of the premier league.”

The former chairman, who insisted that he was neither seeking reinstatement nor taking legal action against his tormentors, said part of the meeting discussed the issue of financial grants to premier league clubs.

“It had become apparent that preceding the meeting that even though at the material time, the premier league had not overspent its budget, projections indicated that because of failure to realise financial inflows from projected income generating streams, the league would be over the budget by P6 million at year end.”

According to Kgabung, the board was quick to put the blame on not only him but his deputy for alleged misuse and embezzlement of premier league money. Moreover, Kgabung who seemingly views the whole episode as politically motivated, said he was further accused of securing a P900 000 loan with Township Rollers investor Jagdish Shah to distribute among some teams in the premier league and thus giving the beneficiaries an unfair advantage.

“In addition there was talk that I had authorised the use of the Premier league official letterhead to support requests by clubs to solicit financial assistance from Mr Shah.” Kgabung said the Board went on to remove him and Mantswe even though they had no constitutional power to do so. The Board further suspended the CEO of the Premier League Bennet Mamelodi with immediate effect, even though he was not in attendance at the material time.

“Our sole reason is to officially respond to the actions of our fellow board members and buttress our position that the process that was followed to remove us was unlawful and inconsistent with constitutional provision of the Botswana Football Association (BFA).”

Speaking during the same occasion, Solomon Mantswe said being removed from their positions does not mean they were no longer Board members of the BPL. “We remain surprised because the BFA constitution does not allow the board to take such decisions, they can only make recommendations,” Mantswe said.
Moreover, Mantswe said he was previously called upon by some board members to oust Kgabung, which he refused.

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Netball regresses

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When successfully hosting of the 2017 Netball Youth World Cup (NYWC) this past year under the Tebogo Lebotse Sebego regime, Botswana netball team (Under 21) showcased a crème dela cream squad, boasting exceptional players such as Pearl Maribe, Sarona Hans, Florence Poane and Cheludo David, just to mention a few.

This left many people anticipating for a smooth transition to the senior team and continue with their impressive performances at elite stages. However, this has not been the case as the national team has been performing dismally, failing to book a spot at the 2018 Africa Netball World Cup back in August, which will be hosted in England, Liverpool next year.

Prior the 2018 Africa Netball World Cup qualifiers staged in Zambia, Botswana roped in a mentor from South Africa, Dorette Badenhorst who confidently said in an interview with Sun Sport before departing to Zambia with team, that the team was in good shape. The results, however did not show and the coach was gone.

In an interview with Sun Sport this week, Botswana Netball Association (BONA) Public Relations Officer (PRO) Theresa Hirchfeld explained why the international coach (Badenhorst) left immediately after the qualifiers, “We had no money to hire an international coach but we desperately needed one hence Spar came to our rescue to bring Dorette Badenhorst on board to help us specifically qualify for the 2019 Netball World Cup edition.

We had to part ways with her because we did not have funds to continue with her,” she explained. According to BONA PRO, the continued absence of the domestic league can be pointed as the main reason why the national team has not been performing well recently, “We do not have a league running at the moment, hence resorting to meeting only on weekends in preparation for important tournaments.

However, I think we did fairly well at the just ended Diamond Challenge tournament held in South Africa looking at the fact that we were not able to go with our full squad due to Police Department events that hindered the selection of players from the Police side,” said the BONA PRO.

The 2018 Diamond Challenge Netball tournament in South Africa, Limpopo was played by Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa’s president XII. The local team did not fare well as they lost most of the games they played, but only managed to salvage one consolation win.

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Knockout Football tournament returns

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The thrills, spills and high stakes of knock out football have returned to the local scene following the announcement of the new Orange FA Cup.

The mobile telecommunication company announced a P12.6 million, three-year deal that will see over 30 teams competing for the first prize of P700 000.After years of FA cup drought since the much-loved Coca Cola cup, 48 teams from the BTC Premiership, Debswana National First Division (DNFD) and regions are expected to slug it out for honour and glory in the newly introduced tournament scheduled for 2019. Addressing members of the media and other football stakeholders in Gaborone this week, BFA President Maclean Letshwiti said sponsorship remains a challenge to local football and other sporting codes.

“I am excited that the regions will finally get a platform to have an event which they can look forward to, with the prospect of generating income,” Letshwiti said. “Sponsorship is key to football as this is how our industry can grow and change the lives of footballers. When we crafted this sponsorship, we wanted an arrangement that can assist regional teams.” Letshwiti said Orange Botswana is no stranger to football as the company has been in football before and they are currently proud sponsors of CAF.

“A platform like the FA Cup offers a great -opportunity for all our league and structure to be scouted and seen by national team coaches across the board. We also now get an opportunity to close the gap between our leagues and increase competition for participation or qualification into the cup.”

Speaking during the same occasion, the Orange Botswana Chief Executive Officer Dr Patrick Benon said the sponsorship will be approximately P4.2 million per football season for a total of three seasons.

“This initiative demonstrates Orange Botswana’s strategy to cultivate talent and support local sports development in line with previous sponsorships like the Kabelano Charity Cup, the Orange Phikwe National Marathon and also the official Zebras National team sponsorship ahead of the historic appearance at the AFCON finals in 2012,” he said. Through these sponsorships, Benon said they have realised the significance of sport activities beyond entertainment.

“It is also about uniting communities, strengthening relationships and supporting activities. The sponsorship by Orange will cover prize money, individual awards, team kits, tournament administration fees and travelling, to name a few.” The competitions will kick off with eight teams from both the DNFD north and south. The first round will also include 16 regional teams. The second round will include 16 winners from the first round and 16 BTC Premiership teams. The second round is expected to produce the last 16 teams who will proceed to the quarter finals.

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