“Whatever happens, we will have prize money. And above all we will not start anything without money,” Kelesitse Gilika vowed.
Though this came as an assurance to premier league teams that they would not be playing another prize moneyless league, many will be right to be bothered.
In a month’s time, February 21 to be precise, the 2021 league season is expected to kick off.
There is however a catch! The newly born Botswana Football League (BFL) has no sponsors and is yet to find new sponsors.
In an interview with The Telegraph Sports, the Gilport Lions owner confirmed that all the BFL sponsorships have lapsed.
And Gilika knows this better than anyone else. He is part of the ‘four wise men’ tasked with the tedious task of finding ‘baby BFL’ some sponsorship gifts.
When the then Botswana Premier League was given autonomy, he, along with Jagdish Shah, Nicholas Zakhem and Anthony Mokento were appointed to set the foundations of the league structure.
Now as time speedily tick tocks to February, Gilika and his fellow ‘wisemen’ are coming to a sobering realization, ‘finding perfect gifts of sponsorship for baby BFL is no easy task.’
Speaking to this publication, he said: ‘As the BFL we are still in talks with companies in order to source a sponsorship.’
He stated that in 2020 they could not come to a conclusion of sponsorship with the companies they are in talks with due to Corona Virus and lockdowns.
“As it stands, we do not have sponsors but it should be known that we do not just want sponsorship but partnership so that both parties’ benefit,” he explained.
Asked if there is any truth in the rumors that they are seeking to postpone the league kickoff from February to August to give themselves time to find sponsors, Gilika ducked and dived.
Instead, he said he could not comment ‘due to the fact that they are still in talks over the issue.’
He however highlighted that since the BFL has been declared ‘a corporate entity’ by the BFA General Assembly, ‘they cannot start the league without money,’ even with clubs, ‘they cannot play without prize money.’
This however still leaves the big question unanswered: ‘Will we have 2020/2021 season or should we remove it from our sports calendar?’
Sports analyst, Kagiso Kgaogano says if needs be and sponsorship does not come through, he agrees with Gilika that the league should not resume without money.
According to him, 2020 has been a very tough year and clubs along with football players need the money to revive as they struggled to survive.
“It is January and we are all trying to make pick up from the little we have, finding a sponsor now is going to be very had. Mind you, BFL needs value in return to sustain them and corona virus is just making things harder for them,” Kagiso noted.
He said the commercialization of elite football is a good move which was long overdue and ‘no one’ should not feel bad about it.
Concerning the league, Kgaogano said we need time to secure a worthy sponsorship that will help bring back the glory of football.
Meanwhile, one administrator, commenting on the condition of anonymity said he does not believe the league will resume next month as planned.
The administrator noted it will be a difficult task for the BFL to find enough sponsors within a month to kick start the season.
With the BFL now autonomous, the administrator noted it will need money to run its own affairs as it could not depend on the Botswana Football Association anymore.