Thursday, July 18, 2024

From Bright to Bleak…

Botswana ladies’ senior national team and Double Action midfielder Segakolodi Didukanyane is facing an uncertain future.

Unearthed from the sandy pitches of Tsabong, the former Mexican Girls captain looked destined for greatness when she earned a scholarship at New Era college. In 2021, ‘Nunuberry’ as Didukanyane is affectionately called, along with her then Mexican Girls teammate Rethabile ‘Letty’ Segojwe became the recipients of the Ghodrati foundation athletes’ scholarship.

The diminutive midfielder was enrolled to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronic engineering at New Era Collage under a fully paid scholarship. Her trajectory in football attracted interest from elsewhere. 

Earlier this year, everything changed. It all started in January 2023 when the athlete unceremoniously departed from Mexican Girls to join Double Action. From a footballing point of view, the move seemed good. She was moving to a team where she could fight for honours.

Academically, the move was however a career killer. Mexican Girls had prioritised her academic ambitions since joining as a young girl. The same was not guaranteed where she was heading and juggling the ball and academics became a burden too heavy to bear for the athlete.

Within three months of her departure, the starlet lost her scholarship which was worth P281 000.00. Without the guidance she got at Mexican Girls, Didukanyane lost her way.

“We sought this scholarship to help our athletes have other opportunities outside their football careers. When she transferred to Double Action, Didukanyane was still active academically. However, after three months, New Era management alerted us that she was missing lectures and missing out on a lot of learning material. In March, she failed to register for her examinations and received fail and discontinue (FD), and her scholarship was terminated,” her former coach Oaitse Moeti explains.

Sadly, the scholarship termination came only a few months before she could complete her studies. While Didukanyane’s exit from Mexican Girls was acrimonious, the turn of events has left a sour taste in Moeti’s mouth.

“We are crying because of many reasons. We do not have a problem with a player wanting to transfer to another team and we can never have a problem with such. However, her transfer was corrupt and procedures of transferring a player were not followed.”

“She was transferred by Botswana Football Association (BFA) to Double Action account without the involvement of Mexican Girls. She had the desire to leave and her leaving was influenced by Double Action. I did not have any problem with her leaving and going to greener pastures for as long as she would remain in school.”

“BFA entertained a complaint from Double Action. When we wrote a letter of complaint regarding Nunuberry’s transfer on the 4th of January 2023, we were shown the door. Even to this day, our complaint has been dismissed. Before she left, we served her with misconduct which was caused by Double Action,” he explains.

For Moeti, the events leading to the current situation have also left him questioning whether he should continue to invest his efforts in players’ futures. In a country where investment on girl child footballers is not taken seriously, he feels it is of no benefit to help.

“We are now conflicted, should we stop seeking scholarship for our players because the ones leading us do not seem to care about the future of these girls. BFA always speaks on safeguarding, but what are we safeguarding and how far do we really go with it or maybe it is just a term being thrown around easily.”

“To those advising these kids please think of their future as well and let us stop being greedy. Didukanyane is not the only player to lose a scholarship. This should be a great concern to those leading us. I urge women football fraternity to seriously look into the matter of players’ education and to ensure these kids go to school and complete their studies,” he advises.  

For his part, Double Action owner Senki Sesinyi says he could not comment on the matter. Attempts to get hold of Didukanyane on the other hand failed to bear fruit. 

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