Botswana Premier (BPL) and First Division Leagues have been granted long-sought autonomy. The two will now form what will be known as the Botswana National League.
The two were granted autonomy after the Botswana Football Association (BFA) general assembly unanimously agreed to such.
As an independent structure, the Botswana National League will now be a special member of the BFA, albeit with powers to decide its own fate.
The decision to grant the Premier and the First Division leagues was an easy one for the general assembly, with Notwane, under the leadership of Tebogo Sebego being the first to support it.
Responding to the motions after it was tabled before the assembly, Sebego hinted that the decision was a long taken by the BFA assembly in 2016 and should see no opposition.
The decision by the assembly now gives the BFA National Executive Committee (NEC) a green light to amend the constitution to accommodate the new structure.
With the Premier League and First Divisions now independent of the BFA, it means they will now make their own decisions including negotiating and signing contracts.
It also gives the Maclean Letshwiti BFA an opportunity to solely focus on areas such as football development as well as women football, which the BFA president feels has long been neglected.
Following the assembly’s decision to grant the league an autonomy, Letshwiti reintroduced to the assembly the four men task team entrusted with the responsibility to oversee the transformation.
The four men, who Letshwiti took a moment to thank for their service, are Jagdish Shah of Township Rollers, Nicholas Zakhem of Gaborone United, Kelisitse Gilika of Gilport Lions and Anthony Mokento of Prisons XI.
Meanwhile, the assembly has rejected a motion to change the local football season from August – May to February to November.
Leading the dissenting voices against the change were First Division South chairperson Sydney Magagane and Kweneng Regional Football Association (KRFA) chairperson Lekgotla Raditloko.
Among other reasons, they lamented that changing of seasons would be detrimental to the players should some teams outside the country want to buy them.
“If we are in the middle of the season and a team outside our borders wants to buy some players, no team will want to sell if they are in the hunt for the league title,” Magagane said.
They also opined that playing in winter afternoons will result in disruptions as the sun sets early. Another worry was that as the sun sets early in winter, players will not get enough training and they will incur injuries on match days due to lack of fitness.
Even an attempt by Footballers Union Botswana (FUB) president Onalethata Tshekiso to explain why the motion should be accepted proved futile.
After the motion was rejected, delegates proposed that as August is a long way off, there should be a mini league organised to bridge the gap between now and the new season.
The proposal for a mini league was however shot down by National League coordinators Zakhem and Shah.
Addressing the issue of a mini league, Zakhem said it would be counterproductive as it would work against what they are trying to achieve to solicit sponsors for the league.
Zakhem said instead of a mini league, they should look into playing the whole season in a short space of time, with teams playing at least two games a week.
He also suggested to the assembly that instead of trying to finish the league before August, they should rather target to have the league back in its regular August calendar in two years.
Zakehm said under such an arrangement, the league would be back in its regular calendar within two seasons.