As the Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe left Botswana Football Association (BFA)’s Lekidi headquarters for a meeting with the country’s corporate sector, he should have had his head ringing.
While he was in the country for the Forbes under 30 Africa summit, the CAF president had taken the opportunity to also get to appreciate the environment of Botswana football and speak to the business sector on its behalf.
Ahead of his engagement however, he made a quick detour to Lekidi where he met with the leaders of Botswana football for a ‘meet and greet.’ If his idea was to have an inkling of an idea of what to tell to the corporate sector, he may have had an earful.
Addressing the Botswana football leadership, the CAF president informed them that ‘he will be talking to the corporate sector to increase monies for sponsorships.’ While he was in no doubt that the country has talent, he however said the development of such talent depends on investment.
“Days of talking about potential of Botswana football are over. The key issue is to have confidence and belief because we have the talent to compete,” Motsepe told the gathered football leadership.
He said it will be a beneficial move for both the corporate world and football to work together. He went on to add that many companies make a lot of money out of Botswana and ‘they can make even more by supporting football.’
“We have to get more resources to the professional leagues and amateur leagues. I came here to give this a sense of urgency,” he declared.
He went on to add that the reason why African football is not growing as in the Western world is because the business sector in the continent is not as developed as those in the Western countries.
As one of the leading proponents of talent development, Motsepe said there is a need for investment in school football, youth football and women football. He made a reference of South African Rugby, which he said is successful because of its investment of resources in school rugby.
Cue the Botswana football leadership! Responding to the CAF president’s address, the local leadership went cap in hand as it called on the South African billionaire to help.
Standing first, Masitaoka football club financier Ariel Ralebala, who described himself as passionate about grassroots development, asked for Motsepe foundation ‘to look more into Botswana Football.’
straight thereafter, it was the BFA manager for women football Tsholofelo Setlhoko who called for ‘better funding for women football.’ She lamented that women need access to better facilities as they were playing in dusty pitches as compared to their male counterparts.
Botswana Football League (BFL) Board Chairman Nicholas Zachem called on Motsepe to make a case for football when he meets with the corporate sector. He went on to add that the contribution of the corporate sector to football was negligible, if not non-existent.
For his part, Township Rollers financier Jagdish Shah said most of the companies in Botswana are subsidiaries of those in South Africa. He implored the CAF president to use his extensive connections to reach out to the holding companies in South Africa to invest in Botswana football.
He said as it is right now, only a few companies are Botswana owned. He said as such, ‘there are only a few pockets and everyone wants to dip their hands into them.’
In response, the CAF president promised to put in a good word with the corporate sector. He even went on to add that even if he does not come to Botswana, he will continuously make follow-ups when he meets with the corporate sector to check if they are investing in local football.