When the current Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Kalusha Bwalya declared his interest in standing for the position, he was met by a negative response from some quarters.
They (Zambian commentators) claimed that having been a top footballer does not guarantee that he would be one of the best leaders in football. Bwalya did not let the critics make him lose focus and went on to win the race. As we speak, Bwalya is regarded as one of the best football administrators in the region and it is under his leadership that Zambia have won their first African Nations Cup (AFCON) title.
Locally, former Mokgosi Young Fighters’ striker Tebogo ‘Mara’ Sebego is likely to receive such treatment from some quarters ahead of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) general assembly in five months time.
When growing up in the township of Old Naledi in Gaborone, Sebego always had ambitions.
After much speculation, Sebego finally revealed that he will stand for the BFA presidency when they go to the polls. Sebego, currently the ┬áBFA legal advisor, has already informed the National Executive Committee of his intentions.
“I’ve resolved that I should stand for the elections during the general assembly. I have been approached by club officials in the regions who believe that football needs fresh energy. I have served football in different capacities both as a footballer and administrator before. I respect the current president (David Fani) who is my senior both professionally and in football but I think he has done his part in football. I want to bring something different which goes beyond my knowledge of the game,” said a confident Sebego.
The former Botswana Law Society chairman pointed out that he has taken part in the actual shaping of Botswana Football hence he believes that its time to implement some of the things which have been left behind.
Sebego, a businessman in his own right, told Sunday Standard that football needs commercial influence from its leaders, something which puts him in pole position going into the elections. ┬áHe feels that he has learnt a lot from the years he has served in different capacities in football.
“I’ve learnt to appreciate the challenges which face the beautiful game. Football is political wheel to commercialise and I must make it clear that in the past years, I did not have a political influence on the policy because my roles (as a legal advisor) were defined by the constitution. I had to respect that but legally, I believe that I have spearheaded so many sacrifices to avoid litigation,” he said.
Sebego asserted that in the six years he has been tasked with advising BFA, he has learnt a lot about the challenges that face Botswana football. He believes that he has developed into a leader over the years considering what has happened to the game locally. But there are some doubting Thomases who feel that Sebego is not the answer to Botswana football because he has been part of the committee which has failed Batswana.
Then the question is what makes him think he can turn the tables around? “It will be very unfortunate if someone links my position as a legal advisor to the political policies. My role was to advice and then the rest was left to the people who were appointed during the general assembly. Our football as an industry has grown over the years and there’s lot of money involved. All we need to do is to bring more companies on board for our football to improve further. In my view, there are more companies which can sponsor our football, all we need to do is to show them (companies) why they have to pump their money into the game,” he continued.
Going to the elections, Sebego believes that he has a proven track record of being a leader having served as a chairman and vice-chairman of Botswana Law Society (BLS) for a period of four years. According to him, being BLS chairperson was not an easy thing but it showed that he has leadership qualities.
“I took Law Society from deficit balance sheet to a surplus balance sheet in a short space of time. It is during that period I ensured that the society has a fully fledged office. These are kind of things which I’m proud of when I look back. I have no doubt that BFA can benefit from that experience,” he added.
Sebego pointed out that the recent qualification of the Zebras to the African Nations Cup (AFCON) has put the country on the African map. He feels that there is potential in Botswana but lack of proper development structures worries him.
“The success of the Zebras has made the association lose focus and ignore the youth structures. The current success is temporary if we’re not going to do anything. Honestly, when I was still a youngster, our clubs had proper development structures but we’ve lost focus over the years,” he said.┬á
Already there are reports those campaigning for BFA presidents in regions are playing dirty games but Sebego said that he is not that class. He believes that things must be done in a proper manner.┬á
“The regions deserve better and there is no need to play dirty. What matters is that Botswana football gets a better representative,” he said.
Sebego was born on 20th October 1973 in the southern township of Old Naledi in Gaborone. He has played for Gaborone United development side in the 80s before playing for Mahalapye Hotspurs, Gaborone Kicks and Mokgosi Young Fighters. His goals were crucial as he guided Ramotswa-based First Division side Mokgosi to the final of the Coca-Cola Cup in 1997. Sebego has represented the country at Under 20 and 23 levels before hanging up his boots in 2000.┬á
Outside football, Sebego carries a Law Degree from University of Botswana. He has served as vice-chairman of Botswana Law Society between 2006 and 2008; he then served as a chairperson for the same organization between 2009 and 2010. ┬áHe is currently sitting on the Judicial Service Commission and Legal Aid board.
According to many experts, it is Sebego’s ability to interact with people, whether rich or poor, which makes him the front runner going to the elections. But he has warned that he would not leave any stone unturned before the general assembly. ┬áWhether Sebego is the right man to take Botswana Football to another level, only the regions will decide.