Sunday, June 16, 2024

A tall order for BFA leadership

As the Botswana Football Association (BFA) goes into its General Assembly to elect a new president and national executive committee at the weekend, it is our ardent hope that football will emerge the overall winner.

It is not our duty to endorse any of the campaign teams ahead of the elective congress. In fact we will not be endorsing any candidate. But we do hope that the elections will be conducted in an atmosphere that is free and fair so that at the end of the day it is football itself that emerges victorious.

We have seen our football make steady strides over the years and we hope that whoever wins has the charisma to advance the gains so far made even further. A lot has still to be done for football development in this country. We do not want to point accusing fingers at anybody at this crucial moment of the elective congress but we trust that delegates will be wise enough to elect men and women of substance who will advance the cause of football.

There is no going back. Football is too important a sport to be left to chance. It has to be run by people with commitment, dedication, verve and zeal. It has to be run by selfless people who possess the right quality and acumen to maintain an upward trajectory.

While a lot has been achieved, this is no way to suggest that the improvements the sport gained over the past few years are not irreversible. There is certainly room for improvement, and serious improvement for that matter. We are aware of the many problems that have plagued the BFA over the years, ranging from insufficient funding to lack of appropriate development strategies at the grass roots level.

We also are abnormally awake to behind-the-scenes politics not to mention strained relations with stakeholders including Government. This is why we say whoever is elected to lead the association should be braced for the difficult times ahead.

For the first time we saw our national team qualify for the AFCON 2012 finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea after beating powerhouses like Tunisia and Egypt. However, our performance at the tournament left a lot to be desired. We failed to win a single game. In fact we were the worst performer at the tournament.

That said we want to point out that the mere fact that we became the first African country to qualify for the prestigious tournament was worth celebrating. But we fared badly at the tournament, nonetheless.

Of course, we had many lessons to learn. And our hope is that learn we did. The bar has been raised and the momentum has to be kept alive. 

It is on the basis of such achievements that we implore congress delegates to wise up and ensure that whoever they elect to lead the association, has what it takes to keep the fire burning.
A lapse to the lower rungs of the game is what Batswana do not desire. The gains of the past should be irreversible. We should aim high as a country. This is why we need men and women of substance to take the association and grow the sport forward.

There have been instances when the team was stranded in foreign countries because certain preparations had not been done in advance. These are sad stories which do not help our drive for excellence.

The new BFA leadership should be able to steer the association from the current debt level. We need a leadership that has the business acumen to commercialize football and ensure that the association is not solely dependent on government handouts for survival. BFA should gear itself for financial self-sustenance.   

For far too long the lower divisions have gone without any sort of sponsorships. That cannot be right.

The new leadership should possess the acumen to attract sponsorship for the lower divisions. It is these divisions that ultimately feed the super league with the caliber of players that make our export material.

We yearn to see our players advancing beyond the borders of South Africa to other major leagues of the world. Our growth in the sport of football is no doubt selling us a country in the world football map.

We look forward to men and women who will do us proud in the international football arena by advancing nothing else but the cause of football for this country. We need selfless football servants who will not be looking for personal gains or interests at the expense of the game.
All said and done, we hope the best camp wins to take our football forward. The time is now and there should be no room for complacency.


Read this week's paper