A few years back a number of local teams revealed that they were unable to partake in the Africa Club Competitions because of financial constraints. In the years that followed, businesses and financiers came to these teams’ rescue and provided the much needed finances to enable them to compete in the continental club championships.
The matter of financial inadequacy has once again come to the fore as two local teams left the sporting fraternity dumb founded when they recently announced that they have pulled out of the competitions because of financial constrains. Gaborone United were scheduled to play a team from Zanzibar while Mochudi Centre Chiefs were supposed to play a team from Mozambique.
Shockingly, Centre Chiefs announced about two weeks ago that they will not be taking part in the competitions while GU broke the news this past week, just days before their match. This means there will not be any international club action for Botswana and it is likely to have a ripple effect on local football. The CAF competitions would have provided a good platform for local footballers to get international exposure and gain valuable experience.
A typical example is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which recently won the African Championships (CHAN). DRC side, TP Mazembe is the dominant force in the club African competitions as they normally end up at the finals. As a result, TP Mazembe has several players in the DRC national squad. Local soccer analyst Monty Gagomokgwa believes the two clubs’ decision to withdraw from continental club championships does not bode well for Botswana football. He adds that if Botswana football is to grow and improve, then it has to take African competitions seriously.
“I really do not know the main reason why our teams decided not to partake in this year’s competitions, but I definitely I don’t believe money is the issue here. There may be some underlying issues that have forced both teams not to take part. The fact is that GU and Center Chiefs have sound financial backing and they surely can finance their trips to these games. It’s unfortunate that they have decided not to participate, but this is bad for our local football,” he said.
Another football official who spoke on condition of anonymity accused some team officials of serving their own interests instead of the nation’s. He said Botswana Football Association (BFA) should from now on take keen interest in such matters.
“I think the BFA should intervene in these matters because they affect football as a whole and at the end of the day it is the country that suffers. Even if it means introducing punitive measures, so be it. All we want is for football to grow. It is also disheartening because the concerned teams announced their non-participation very late. Had they done that earlier, maybe other teams would have taken part,” he said.