Monday, August 15, 2022

Sebego not worried by his critics

During the 2012/13 Premier League season when Notwane played, Tebogo “Mara’ Sebego used to sit amongst Notwane supporters in the stands wearing the club’s replica bearing SEBEGO 10 at the back.
He would cheer his side on and even critique the coaches’ tactics when things were not going well. He would follow his beloved club everywhere even in the northern part. Seeing him at the games one would have not thought that he is likely to become Botswana Football Association (BFA) president come the beginning of the 2013/14 season. Fast forward: Sebego now occupies football’s hottest seat and in less than three months his leadership style has come under scrutiny. Sunday Standard journalist TSHEPO MOLWANE reports.

Like him or hate him, Sebego claims to know what he is doing and he has no doubt that under his term, Botswana football will grow and bring more revenue. Tell to those who undermine his leadership skills, they would dismiss that as hogwash. 

Since coming into office on July 28, Botswana football has experienced a lot of lows some of which are directed to his mafia-style leadership. Days after his election, Police XI and newly-promoted Security Systems were de-registered from being BFA members after they failed to subscribe the annual P250 fee. Having failed to meet the August 10 cut-off-date, it meant that both clubs were no longer members and Sebego did not hesitate to make it clear.

That did not go down well with some people, including those close to the clubs. What made it worse was the news that Notwane (Sebego’s beloved club) and BR Highlanders were named as the two sides to replace Police XI and Security Systems. While the decision was taken by the National Executive Committee (NEC), it is Sebego who suffered the wrath of football community considering his association with Notwane. Sebego was not worried and labeled his critics as ignorant.

Since he knew that football is full of hot-heads, Sebego stood by the NEC decision, something which led Security Systems heading to the High Court and Court of Appeal. The new boys lost both cases with costs.

Still Sebego remains under the microscope. ┬áWhile the issue of the clubs’ de-registration seems to have cooled down, the chief executive officer, Duncan Kgame, left the association at the beginning of October. While Kgame was said to have stepped down, indications show that he was forced out after he could not adhere to the expectations of new BFA broom.

People wondered who would replace Kgame. Reports started filtering through that Englishman Keith Masters had been roped in as the new CEO. The idea is for him to come and commercialise Botswana football within two years before handing the baton to a local. In the eyes of most people, this was a good move considering that the Englishman, who has good relations with Botswana, is not going to cost our football much. He is here as a ‘volunteer’. Sadly, Masters was involved in an accident which means that his coming to Botswana is going to be delayed as he recuperates. That meant Sebego and his team have to come up with a temporary measure for Botswana football to run. The last time there was no CEO, the junior national teams failed to take part in the continental qualifiers, something which did not go down well with football followers.

Then it was announced that Sebego’s campaign manager, Tariq Babitseng, would hold the fort temporarily until Maters lands in Botswana. This was a shock appointment, according to many, as they believed that it is a way for Sebego to thank his right hand man.

As things stand, Babitseng remains in charge of the day to day running of the association until Masters comes here. Despite the criticism from the football community, Sebego believes that he has taken the right decision.

“I don’t know what those people (critics) are saying because Tariq is the right man for now. We needed someone who knows what football needs since he’ll be there for a couple of weeks. Football is going to benefit through his input. While people are bent on pointing fingers, they don’t know that it is Tariq who is losing by being at BFA,” said Sebego on Friday afternoon.

The BFA boss pointed out that being at the helm has taught him a lot and he is grateful that the problems came at the beginning of his tenure. He believes that over the couple of weeks he could have not survived if he was not strong.

“It’s been very hectic and full of challenges because our football has been sick. If I was not strong, I don’t think I would have survived this crisis,” he added.

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