Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Letter to Minister Kgathi

I hope this letter finds you in a euphoric mood of football victory like everybody else is in Botswana.

I’m well known for my previous position against the appointment of Stanley Tshosane when the BFA entrusted him with the responsibility of managing the Zebras. I must concede that, although Tshosane has soundly proven me wrong, my position was merely premised on the profile and pedigree of his competitor for the position, Roald Poulsen at the time.

I hope that Tshosane understood where I was coming from; hence I wish to now publicly congratulate Tshosane and the Zebras, the BFA and the entire support structure including Orange.

I therefore wish in advance, The Zebras all the best in Equatorial Guinea/Gabon for the AFCON finals. I hope God will afford many Batswana and me the opportunity to grace this tournament next year January.

I consider myself an active and relevant player in the sport market place; consequently I thought it would be better if I addressed you publicly, and now! The principal intent of this letter is to guide the Botswana government, the BFA and the private sector that it is best that we started the necessary preparations now so that our national team is ready to face and conquer Africa at the Nations Cup in January.

The truth is, if we managed to escape without any scars from a group of Death comprising of a tactically superior Tunisia, an experienced Malawi and a highly organized Chad, we should be confident we can play quite competitively against any other team in the continent.

It would therefore be best for you and BFA to have a comprehensive plan in which there is a categorical roadmap on which the journey of participation at Nations Cup starts. This road map starts with clear remuneration package for the players and the Technical Team. We should avoid a situation in which players turn against their country and refuse to play hours before a match because of allowance/bonus crisis.

The Zebras has been in that (boycott) situation before and many national teams notably Nigeria have seen that happen especially at Nations Cup. And this always leads to a poor start and their immediate exit from competitions. This is also an opportune moment to display to the world that Batswana are a thorough, passionate and organized people, with a team hungry for international recognition.

I personally am irritated by a yesteryear scenario in which the BFA is compelled to go out there and ask for funds from the public with government watching from a distance like a poor spectator. Minister, I personally find that completely insulting, revolting and preposterous for we are a healthy economy, and we should not behave like an embattled country rocked by a civil war or psychosis. There should be some sort of special appreciation or honour for the entire squad that qualified us for the 1st time in history of our international football like they always do in other countries.

Let us also honour Jerome Ramatlhakwane, a player who never played competitive football at club level for three seasons but who managed to score in almost every Qualifier, propelling us to The Promised Land. Nobody should misconstrue my suggestion; we can honour him any how we can or possible should not be monetary.

SAFA has since taken Siphiwe Tshabalala’s boots that scored Bafana’s 1st 2010 world cup goal to the archives and football museum while Benni McCarthy’s boots after France 1998 (for the goal he scored against Pete Schemeichel of Denmark) were auctioned off and the proceeds put to some good use.
Legend Dipsy Selolwane has been a phenomenal and hopeful servant of Botswana football, by far the most successful sportsman we have had since we played sports, I humbly and sincerely ask you to do something for our finest export.

Mogogi Gabonamong, Modiri Marumo and Mompati Thuma are the other stars you ought to have in the reckoning, it may not be now but we need to start deliberating how we go about it as stakeholders. This is normal tradition in countries where merit, diligence and dedication are a yardstick with which to measure success and progress, and reward achievers.

My frequent interaction and personal experience with the entire team tells me that all the other boys in the team understand and appreciate profusely the role the Old Guard has played in this long journey.

We all know where Dipsy and Mogogi come from with our football, right from under 17 levels through every stage! It is also these stalwarts who are mentioned in the media in the diaspora, and above all most of them would probably be playing their 1st and last Nations Cup due to age. The BFA should also let Tshosane take the team through to Nations Cup and see his contract through.
Botswana will need a series of friendly matches against top opposition, and we need to reconcile ourselves to the fact that the international friendlies do not come cheap. We must be ready to pay top opposition to play us, I do not know where we will get the money but we need to play them before January. We should also be prepared to fly as far as Europe, North and West Africa to set up camp, or perhaps even do a camp in Pretoria to use the High Performance Centre or the Sports Science Institute in Cape Town. We surely should afford to use Potchestroom Campus of North West University and utilise their state of the art facility that Spain used prior to the world Cup.

The cool and quiet town of Stellenbosch is also blessed with sports facilities of international standards which are always used by many international teams. Aspire Academy in Qatar, the world’s biggest and most sophisticated sports facility is one that we can also look at for camp when all our players are free. It will not be cheap but we have already established bi-lateral agreements with the Institute according to Vincent Seretse.

The money problem should never be allowed to rear its ugly face again because the Team managed to qualify despite protracted monetary difficulty, which should be finalized now, not in January when the Team leaves for the Nations Cup.

Without claiming to be a paragon of virtue, I have worked with teams and it is always heart breaking to see teams wrecked by an administrative inability or lackadaisical attitude of those who should be at the fore.

I guarantee you the Boys have the support of the whole Nation, and many other Batswana in the Diaspora. The factions that have become synonymous with the BFA should be avoided in the same manner that SAFA cleverly nipped in the bud their factional differences prior to the historic 2010 FIFA world Cup.

We all know money and power occasion SAFA factions, but we do not know what causes factionalism in Botswana football. In conclusion, the medical and insurance issues always raised by our senior national players should be pronounced and swiftly dealt with without ambiguity, and the BFA should also send an Advance Team as soon as November this year to see the conditions and study Equatorial Guinea/Gabon to report back to the BFA and the Technical Team.

Similar modus operandi and approach should be adopted for the National Netball Team going to the World Championships in Singapore in winter.

Once again, I am available at your convenience to comprehensively discuss the way forward in the best interests of Botswana sport in general.

Yours in sport

Olebile-Sikwane
Western Cape

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper