It is never easy to see Botswana’s football legend Diphetogo Selolwane display raw emotions in public. However, on Friday morning, during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Footballers’ Union Botswana (FUB) and the Private Tertiary Institutions Association (PTIA), ‘Dipsy’ could not hide his emotions. Speaking at the occasion, Selolwane, who is the FUB ambassador, said the signing of the MoU between FUB and PTIA was a step in the right direction to help footballers make a living past their footballing careers.
Under the MoU, private local tertiary institutions are planning to provide local footballers with opportunities to further their education in their institutions. According to the Dean of Law at Baisago University Lizo Ngcongco, “central to the MoU is the increase of literary base for footballers in Botswana”. He said the intention of the MoU was to ensure local footballers can still make a life when they hang their playing boots. The new initiative struck a raw nerve with Selolwane, who himself is now a retired player.
“We know of yesteryear players who have disappeared into oblivion and into poverty after their playing days. This was mostly because they were not well equipped and had no other skill to fall back on when their football careers are over,” the former Zebras great said. Having seen some of the countries former players struggle and forsaken to live in poverty despite the joy they brought the country, Selolwane said the initiative by the FUB and PTIA will ensure footballers are kept in school. According to Dipsy, even some of the players who were part of the team that played at Botswana’s debut Africa Cup of Nations are fast fading into oblivion as they are now neglected.
“We have over the past years seen footballers drop out of school or quit their jobs to play football. But this is a very short career,” Selolwane explained. He said partnerships like the one between the FUB and the PTIA are key to breaking the cycle of footballers falling into poverty. He said education is crucial for aspiring professional footballers as it also instills discipline. Selowane described education as a vehicle through which the local players can also make their way to professional football. Taking a leaf from his own journey to professional football, Selolwane said it was through school that he ended up having the opportunity to break into professional football.
For his part, PTIA President Keorapetse Setlhare said the initiative will make the conditions conducive for footballers to play the sport they love. “PTIA and FUB through this agreement help players in order to allow them to step out of the shadows or, at least, to practice their profession under the best possible conditions,” Setlhare explained. He said the initiative would ensure the well being of players is well taken care of through educational and capacity building workshops and programs. The PTIA President said the initiative would ‘increase access of local football players to education by offering free scholarship in different Private institutions.’
“We are resolute that this dream is not a pie in the sky, and with willing partners like Boitekanelo, GIPS, Baisago University, New Era College, Limkokwing University, Imperial School of Business, Botho University and ABM College, we have no doubt we will achieve this dream,” Setlhare said. According to FUB, beneficiaries of the initiative will include all members of the FUB, which will be both retired and current players. The number of footballers who will have the opportunity will however depend on the number of spaces availed by private institutions.