Botswana Football Association is reported to have missed out on an opportunity to host English Premier League club West Ham United.
According to sources, the East London based outfit wanted to visit this country for their preseason preparations during the break, after the 2015/16 season. This reporter is in possession of the correspondences between the match agent Ashley Kotzin and the BFA CEO Kagiso Kemoeng, the correspondences outlined cost of bringing the EPL club to Botswana and benefits for hosting such an international brand among other things.
“We acknowledge receipt of your email correspondence, which you would like to propose a tour of West Ham United FC to Botswana in May 2016. Our Chief Executive Officer is out of office on a business trip today and I hope that he will attend to your request as soon as possible”, reads the mail by BFA CEOs Personal Assistant Connie Bolaane.
According to a reliable source close to the concerned agent, BFA ultimately turned down the offer to celebrate Bot50 in style with a club from England playing in the country. “We spoke some two weeks or so ago. I tried calling you on your mobile, but could not reach you. Does the offer still stand? If you are available, please call me on (cell number provided), or at the contact below (office line)”, reads mail from Kemoeng.
In a recent interview, Kemoeng confirmed that they have exchanged email correspondences in relation to visit by the English club. “ We had been engaged by a certain Tumelo Pule who represented the South African match agent. The proposal was such that we incur the cost of bringing them here, which was in excess of P 7 million”, explained Kemoeng. BFA CEO also stated that they objected after considering all the benefits and costs to host the club.
The English club was to play the national team and a few friendly matches with two local clubs, which were not yet part of the discussion. Information reaching this publication is that Township Rollers chairman Walter Kgabong is alleged to have had interest in taking the offer. Kgabong was then BPL board chairperson and also sat on the BFA national executive committee at the time. However, in an interview, Rollers Secretary General Khumoyame Masonya said they have never received any correspondence concerning the West Ham issue.
Nevertheless, Botswana football governing body, which is alleged to be in a sorry state financially, may have missed out the opportunity to pocket millions of pula from hosting the English team. According to the source, BFA could have at least facilitated a plan to engage government and business community to raise the money. Moreover, the source claimed the value of the EPL club was good enough for stakeholders to buy into their proposal. According to the source, the event managers involved in the matter communicated in detail the interest expressed by their client to visit Botswana back in May, merely three months before the Independence Day.
“The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development had been preaching Bot50 celebrations and activations ahead of the September festivities. Football failed to make a lasting impression on the hearts of Botswana at large during the activations,” the sources said. West ham would have been the second British team to visit Botswana after Bristol city visited Gaborone for preseason ahead of the 2015/16 season. Bristol played a friendly game against Extension Gunners.
Local hockey body to incur massive financial loss post Covid-19
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.”
BFA will not declare the season null and void – yet
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.