After almost 15 years serving as football coach at different clubs in the country, former army Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Nthobelang is now aiming for the Botswana Football Association (BFA) Vice President Technical position at the mother-body’s general assembly, which is scheduled to be held in Gaborone on July 28.
Nthobelang campaigns under the group which calls itself FRIENDS OF FOOTBALL and which aims to wrestle out the current leadership which is under David Fani.
The group, which consists among others of Tebogo Sebego (President) and Basadi Akoonyatse (additional member), has vowed to leave no stone unturned to ensure that they take Botswana football to another level.
While both Sebego and Akoonyatse have long shown their interest in standing for the elections, the name of Nthobelang has come as a shock.
He has never been seen as the man who would enter the politics of football because of his gentleman’s attitude. But after the withdrawal of University of Botswana’s Raj Rathedi, FRIENDS OF FOOTBALL were left with no choice but to turn to the expertise of the Mookane-born gaffer to fill the void. Nthobelang has accepted the invitation and he will face the challenge of incumbent Dintle Mphele and Patrick Mathe for the second most powerful position at Lekidi Football Centre.
Walking into Sunday Standard offices on a chilly Friday morning, Nthobelang was in a relaxed mood and believes that he has what it takes to improve the fortunes of BFA. There is no doubt that football politics can turn ugly but Nthobelang is confident of ascending to BFA’s hierarchy.
While he has seen it as a coach, serving at the highest football office in the country is more challenging.
He says he has done his homework before agreeing to stand for the elections.
“I’ve been persuaded by some people in the regions (who know my background) to stand for this position and I have no doubt that I’ll win. The reason I’ve accepted the challenge is because I’ve noticed that football development has been ignored over the years, especially at grassroots level. Women football is also suffering because those who are expected to ensure that it grows are doing nothing,” said Nthobelang.
He stated that the current leadership seems to be content with current results not looking into the future.
Nthobelang pointed out that if BFA ignores youth development like seems to be the case, the Zebras are going to suffer in the future as they will be no proper transition.
“There are no proper structures in place and we cannot expect our national teams to improve. We need to start in the regions and have coaches (there) who can drive these projects. Those coaches in the regions also need to go through proper coaching education so that they can help improve our standard of football,” he said.
Nthobelang added that the BFA technical office is under-utilized because FIFA has programmes in place which is aimed at improving football in its member associations.
He noted that FIFA avails grants every year for football development but he doubts if the money is used for the right purposes at Lekidi Football Centre. “It’s time for change and the only ones who can do that are the delegates. I believe that FRIENDS OF FOOTBALL, under the leadership of Sebego, can turn Botswana football around. He is still young, energetic, and passionate about football and he’s respected by many people in and outside football,” disclosed Nthobelang.
In his coaching career, Nthobelang has guided Township Rollers, Gaborone United, Prisons XI, Killer Giants and Naughty Boys amongst others. He has attended different coaching courses which were run by the Dutch Football Association and English FA. He holds a CAF C License.
Outside football, Nthobelang has served in various managerial positions at Botswana Defence Force and he was appointed Chief of Government Security in the Office of the President before retiring.