Debswana First Division teams in the South will have to wait another week before they can kick any ball in anger after the league was postponed yet again to allow for the clubs to receive their grants.
The league was scheduled to start yesterday (Saturday). As part of the sponsorship deal with Debswana, teams are entitled to a P25 000 grant at the start of the first round of the season and another P25 000 at the beginning of the second.
Debswana First Division South Secretary General Sydney Magagane said the postponement was done to ensure teams get their grants before they start the league.
According to Magagane, while the sponsor had deposited sponsorship monies into the Botswana Football Association (BFA) coffers, clubs were, however, still waiting to receive their grants. “Debswana has fulfilled its promises and credited sponsorship monies and we have to appreciate that. However, the processes that need to be undertaken for the money to be released to clubs are still ongoing. We expect clubs to have received their grants by Monday (tomorrow) and they should be ready to start the league this coming weekend,” Magagane explained.
He said: “The decision to postpone the start of the First Division South League season is a collective one taken by the League Committee.” According to Magagane, the committee took into consideration the struggle of the teams before taking the decision.
“Most of our teams do not have the financial muscle to sustain themselves. For teams such as Skoon Boys that have gained promotion into the division and are from distant places, it would have been difficult to start without their grants. The League Committee felt it would therefore be unfair for such teams if we started the league before they got their grants,” Magagane explained.
Magagane denied the postponement had anything to do with the rumoured non-payment of referees. He said his committee sat down with referees and they understood their payments would be credited to them soon. “We are very hopeful that by Monday, our referees will have been paid what they are owed,” Magagane said. He said all is set and they are ready to start the league once the outstanding payments had been resolved.
Meanwhile, Debswana First Division North, on the other hand, kicked off yesterday (Saturday) as was planned. The league started with a double-header at the Francistown Sports Complex, where GNT took on Motlakase Power Dynamos in the first game and Tafic faced Sowa Flamingos thereafter.
Debswana First Division North Secretary General Rapula Gaothobogwe said despite the challenges they faced, they could not postpone the start of their season. “We cannot say we do not have challenges because we do have. However, our view was that our challenges should not stop us,” Gaothobogwe explained.
While they are also yet to resolve issues with referees, Gaothobogwe said they reached a common understanding with them, something which enabled them to officiate.