Ever since the local football season was cut short due to the coronavirus, local football supporters and players have been itching for a day when football can be played.
Any hope of the league resuming or a new season were however dashed as a Botswana Football Association (BFA) research showed it would cost millions to play in the midst of the pandemic.
However, with no end in sight and the BFA not having the necessary resources, many were already expressing concerns as to whether local football will return in the near future.
This past week, there was a new flicker of hope as the BFA announced a new collaborative effort with UEFA to bring back football called BFA UEFA Bounce Back.
According to a statement from the BFA, ‘UEFA has taken the lead to assist the Botswana Football Association on the return to football processes through the UEFA Assist Program.’
‘The Bounce Back Program takes a holistic view on how the Football Association can make a smooth return to play.’
The BFA went on to state that ‘the BFA/UEFA collaboration program will involve the situational analysis of Botswana football and come up with recommendations on the way forward.’
“The expectation is that at the end of the program the BFA secretariat should propose a READY TO PLAY plan which will guide all BFA members in returning to football process,” the statement reads.
However, with the BFA National Executive Committee (NEC) elections looming, the announcement has not been universally welcome as ‘the association cannot start a new season without having staged the elective assembly first.’
“We all want elective assembly to take place, we can no longer wait for stunts,” local football analyst Jimmy George opined.
George is of the view that if the BFA had any partnership with UEFA, it could have long sought assistance rather than on the eve of elections.
“If BFA leadership is sincere they must stage elections and allow the new leadership to plan properly and use the assistance they got from EUFA to greater value and for the benefit of football,” he opines.
“What is happening is a political stunt geared towards winning elections. If there is monetary value, the chunk of that money will be used in campaign and will not benefit football,” he observes.
George is of the view that the general assembly of the BFA, which is the supreme body making football decisions must take place so that football leaders formulate a program that will see teams play.
He says there is a need for BFA to financially assist teams and players who are affected and must come with ideas that will alleviate the current situation.
“We need the current BFA leadership to cease coming up with stunts intended to win them votes. They rather put in place programs that will assist football not to suffer further,” he says.
According to George, the BFA / UEFA Bounce Back initiative is an afterthought by the association.
“They could have long engaged them, they could have approached them before the BFA NEC took the decision to stop the leagues to see how best they could aid local football,” George says.
To him the partnership between the UEFA and BFA can be discussed at length during the assembly so that the benefits of it cut across all regional associations.
He says the priority should be to hold elections first so that there can be meaningful progress and ‘partnerships are utilised productively.’
Another football commentator, Aupa Mokotedi says the BFA / UEFA Bounce Back “is a good initiative.’
“It is important for football authorities to map how football will return in the aftermath of the devastating Covid-19,” he says.
Mokotedi is of the opinion that the BFA should be commended for taking the responsibility to aid its structures and clubs to prepare for the return of the game.
He however expressed concerns that the BFA statement on the partnership with UEFA ‘does not state clearly how the UEFA intervention would be. “The clubs need support in many aspects,” Mokotedi says.
Like George, Mokotedi holds the view that good partnership ‘should be beneficial to football not individuals.’