The International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) has attacked the Botswana Football Association (BFA) for humiliating the nation when it withdrew the Under-20 women team from the World Cup qualifiers.
The girls had lost 7ÔÇô1 to their Kenyan counterparts in the first of the two-legged event. In a strong worded letter to the BFA chief executive Officer (CEO), the IWG secretary general Game Mothibi uttered her displeasure at the conduct of the BFA leadership.
“Following our telephonic conversation on the above, I wish to formally lodge displeasure in the decision taken and the manner in which the issue was handled.
“We deeply regret the decision made by the Botswana Football Association days ago to withdraw the Women’s Under-20 National Football team from the on-going World Cup Qualifiers,” Mothibi wrote.
She added: “It is with the greatest disappointment that the team had to experience such humiliation at the hands of football leadership and custodians. As IWG we are of the view that it is BFA’s responsibility to plan for all their structures and be able to support their plan.”
The BFA withdrew the team claiming lack of funds. The reasons advanced by the BFA were not welcome from football lovers who were saddened by the awkward decision the BFA took. Many had wondered what could have happened had the team won the first leg. Was the BFA going to withdrew or continue with the qualifiers?
“If well planned, the decision could have rather been taken earlier than when the team had already started competition and legitimate expectation has been established,” observed Mothibi.
“With BFA being signatory to the IWG’s Brighton Plus Helsinki 2014 Declaration, IWG believe that BFA is fully aware of the need to support the growth and participation of women in the sport. This includes equitable distribution of resources. The principle is also espoused by the football global mother body FIFA, which is also a signatory to the declaration,” reads part of the letter.
Brighton Plus Helsinki 2014 Declaration advocates for women empowerment in sport and equal opportunities with their counterparts.
“IWG wishes to advice BFA to hold the Women’s team in high regard and as such afford women football necessary resources and time. We also advice that BFA considers gender mainstreaming into the sport which will assist them in planning for all and also device a gender responsive budget. We are available to assist in this regard,” Mothibi wrote.
Mothibi views the BFA decision to withdraw the team as a somersault from the commitment they made to support women football.
BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane confirmed they had received the letter. “We have seen the letter and appreciate the sentiments expressed by IWG. However, we looked at the state of finances at the BFA and we had to make this decision unpopular as it is as we had to take it,” Mpatane said.
He said the BFA welcomed the concern of one of their partners and it calls for BFA to speed up the pace of sourcing of funds to improve the associations’ finances.
He defended the suggestions that there was lack of planning on part of the BFA. “We cannot call it lack of planning; we asked for financial assistance and got a response late. More over remember the participation was confirmed a year ago and when trying to sources funds, we could not get them and the truth is we had no other choice but to withdraw,” explained Mpatane.
According to Mpatane, the association is fully committed to all forms of the game male and female. “We must excises responsibility in management of affairs, we aren’t going to be drawn in to a gender argument because this could have happened to the boys’ team too.” quipped Mpatane.