The Constituency league tournament has come under the spotlight, with Members of Parliament condemning the league as a waste of time and public money. Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture Thapelo Olopeng on Thursday presented a budget proposal for the Ministry for the year 2015/16 in the sum of P878 817 120.00, hailing the sport activity as keeping the young people meaningfully engaged.
Responding to the request, MP for Francistown East Billy Buti blasted the tournament, saying the constituency league was almost a breeding ground for raging alcoholics. At his constituency and the rest of the entire City of Francistown, the money accrued from the tournament is wasted on alcohol after the teams have won the league.
“After winning the games, the players engage in alcohol consumption,” Buti revealed on Thursday, adding the wayward behaviour was borne out of the discrepancy of the tournament as there was no monitoring. Instead of preserving the aspect of fitness and promoting healthy living, the very noble gesture it was initiated, constituency league was encouraging the opposite.
“While it was initiated to develop and nurture skills and spur youths from wayward behaviour such as drinking alcohol, constituency league has become alcohol entertainment for the youths,” the ruling party MP noted. “The monitoring of the Constituency league is very poor. With such poor monitoring and scrutiny the public now tend to think the tournament was initiated solely for other personal means,” Buti said, probably referring to political leverage. The brain child of President Khama as he assumed the highest office in 2008, constituency league has come under scrutiny and skepticism from the public particularly the opposition parties. Opposition parties argued the tournament was a blatant move designed to woo supporters to the ruling party especially the predominantly vulnerable youths inundated with high unemployed rate.
Constituency league however runs contrary to FIFA and BFA regulations, with a high profile world body delegation in recent months, in Botswana, scrutinising the tournament. Already FIFA has warned the BFA to re-model the tournament or face sanctions. The government has remained mum over threats to be expelled from FIFA membership as the Federation of International Football Association delegation gave deadline to comply, throwing the local football credentials into question and scrutiny. Mogoditshane MP Sedirwa Kgoroba said, “Youth players are not enthusiastic about the tournament. It is only when the players are keen to the tournament that their art can develop.” To him the youths are attracted to the constituency league because of the remunerations they obtain.
“Sports is about passion,” opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change MP said. Should the country continue with the trend, the local football content is headed for an incurable disease from which it will be difficult to heal.
“The opposition is here to give advice where necessary not just to criticise. We should sit down and introspect,” the self-confessed football enthusiast said, adding as far as he could make his own judgment the tournament was designed to appease the disgruntled youths who are hit by record high unemployment rate. “The tournament has nothing to do with the development of sports,” Kgoroba further argued, refusing to accede to suggestions that some high profile players in the premier league were the products of the system. Presenting the budget proposal, Olopeng indicated during the 3rd Cycle of 2014/15 financial year that 75 851 participants took part in the tournament. “Some of the graduates of the programme ply their trade in the mainstream leagues with two of them in the National team.” Several teams have put prize money to good use, the Minister added.