Football commentators have criticised the Botswana Premier League (BPL) for allowing Miscellaneous Sporting Club and Motlakase Power Dynamos to play their home games in a dusty and sub standard pitch, arguing the move is akin to ‘taking two steps backward in football professionalism.”
Football commentator Jimmy George is amongst those who expressed disapproval to this decision. In an interview with The Sunday Standard Sport, George said he see BPL contradicting their office vision and mission of moving towards running professional football. George said this is also bad for the image of the BPL and is one step backward in terms of taking local soccer to another level.
He said this decision shows BPL is “not that powerful,” as it could listen to any plea. George rhetorically asked that “if all the teams decide to take their games to their dusty grounds, will the BPL take heed?”
“The BPL should have rather come up with alternative solution. If it was a matter of costs, the BPL should have agreed to meet the two teams’ half-way. Professionalism should also come with a cost,” said George.
In a separate interview with this publication, the BPL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bennett Mamelodi conceded that taking the game to a dusty pitch could be a step backwards in achieving goals of professionalism.
He however, explained that the entire decision is of the Botswana Football Association supreme body, the General Assembly.
Mamelodi said they as BPL were against the decision at first, but were bound by a Clause he summarised as saying teams should play where they are based.
“We needed to strike a balance and look at all sides of the coin. Yes it was a disadvantage to the two teams and it was also binding to do so as according to the Clause. So it was an amicable move, though done in the interest of professionalism and commercialisation,” explained Mamelodi.
On a positive note Mamelodi said though it looks unprofessional to play games on a dusty pitch. It has been a blessing in disguise for the home team Motlakase, as the team is reaping rewards in gate takings from the home crowd. Though he did not mention statistics he said the people of Serowe are also managing to travel few kilometres to watch their beloved Miscellaneous.
“We are also reigniting football interest to the people of Palapye until their ground, which is still constructed is ready,” said Mamelodi.
Mamelodi also urged football lovers not complain adding that this is a temporary measure.
Meanwhile the Palapye Swallows dusty grounds have attracted a rather lacksture and dull games. The first game was a one all draw between Miscellaneous and Gaborone United on Sunday. The second was a dull goalless draw between Motlakase and Nico United on Wednesday.
The Palapye Swallows ground was seen as a suitable venue for the two teams. As the Swallows grounds are practically and suitably a home ground to Motlakase. Miscellaneous, from Serowe are just 49 kilometres away from the venue. This means for home games, Miscellaneous will drive on A14 road for approximately fifty minutes. The two teams prefer Serowe and Palapye unlike last year when they had to travel over 100 kilometres to Selibe Phikwe, their venue for last year.