FIFA’s development officer, Ashford Mamelodi, is continuing with his efforts to see Botswana football run professionally one day. It all started in Selibe Phikwe early this year where some top FIFA officials were present.
There, Mamelodi courted Premier League teams and now his focus is in the First Division, which he says plays a vital role in the development of football. On Friday he officially addressed the Southern First Division teams on the declarations of the Selibe Phikwe seminar that came to be known as the Bosele Declaration. He told First division teams that as long as the local football is in amateurish stage, there is no way the national teams can be competitive. He also said it is painful to see an abundance of talent in Africa always joining the lucrative leagues while there is potential to do so in Africa.
“Currently there are only four professional leagues in Africa, but Africa is made up of 53 countries. This is unbelievable looking at the number of African players in Europe. But we need to start somewhere and we have potential of doing that in Africa,” he said.
Mamelodi also said amateurish running of the league is also denying teams a chance to make money through sponsorships and television rights. He said the current status of most clubs that have been registered as societies is scaring away many potential sponsors. He said once companies realise that teams are societies, they run away because they know that societies are not accountable. Mamelodi even touched on the issue of players’ contracts saying if teams cannot sign contracts with their players they might, in the long run, lose a lot of their players without gaining anything in return. He gave an example of Modiri Marumo who recently moved to Egypt saying BDF XI nearly got away with nothing.
“Upon realising that Marumo did not have a contract, they wanted to have him without giving BDF a single cent. But in the end, there was compromise but if the contract was there, there would not have been such problems. So I am urging teams even you, the First Division, to have contracts with your players or else you are going to lose out on players you invested a lot in,” he said.
Mamelodi added that once the league is professional, the chances of the improvement of the national team are very high. He said since the First Division is the immediate feeder to the Premier League, they must be ready to adopt whatever is done in the elite league. Mamelodi also added that teams should be ready to do more to be professional. He said gone are the days when teams were run from car boots but now should have offices with qualified personnel for daily affairs of the team. He also said teams should have sound financial management for accountability purposes. The absence of key communication strategies is also one area Mamelodi is concerned with and he says it is vital. Even security at the games, he says, is a concern.
Mamelodi said teams are more concerned with referees but security should cater for all the attendants at the stadium.
On his part, Kgotlele said they are considering forming a First Division national team.