Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Roses Among the Thorns

In a sport beset by patriarchy like football, it is a rare phenomenon to see a bevy of intelligent women vie for administrative posts.

As Botswana football goes to the elections to vote its leadership this year, six women have thrown their names in the hat. 

The six are Itsholeng Disang, Joy Setshedi, Lobito Ncube, Tsoseletso Magang, Kesego Okie and Theresa Hirschfeld.

In a football environment that is ever hostile to women, the jury is still out as to whether the women have what it takes to make an impact on local football.

Of greater interest however, the jury will be out to see how many will be voted into leadership, given that men make the majority of the voting delegates.

Interestingly, of the six women, four, being Disang, Magang, Ncube and Setshedi will go head to head for the seat of women representative in the Botswana Football Association (BFA).

The remaining two, being Okie and Hirschfeldt will take on the men folk for two of the three Ordinary Member positions in the BFA NEC.

While the number of women vying for the elections is the highest ever in the history of BFA, it however elicits both a great interest and a concern

Sports Journalist and Reporter, Anastacia Sibanda said as much as it brings joy to see women standing it is also not good that they are contesting against each other. 

She says while this is a start, going forward, women should have the courage to take on men and also go for higher leadership positions in order to have a better number of ladies in power. 

While she believes all the women contesting have impressive skill sets, Sibanda however says one candidate, Okie, has caught her eye.

Of all the women contestants, she says Okie is proving to be a ball of energy and she is therefore interested to see what she can offer if elected into the BFA NEC.

Should Okie win, Sibanda says she should be groomed as early as possible to take up bigger positions. 

“Okie is a very energetic woman and fearless at heart. If groomed well she has the capability to stand for the BFA Presidency. We surely need more women like her in sport and she is one lady who will not be afraid to challenge for that position,” she boldly said. 

Sibanda says that from this year’s elections, women should learn to not only focus on contesting against each other for a reserved women seat as this makes it hard for women empowerment. Rather, she says many should also contest for all the other seats as well.  

For his part, Mmegi sports journalist Mqondisi Dube says 6 out of 23 is not a good number but a starting point for women participation. 

Dube says women participation should amplify the voice of women and encourage more of them to step on board. 

“The women who have taken the stand are full of integrity, they hold high posts in sports and they are driven by passion. Our hope is for them to bring something missing in the game just like other candidates who are standing; we only want them to improve football,” Dube said. 

Commenting on the women contestants, football analyst Kagiso Kgaogano says he is impressed by the skill set the women will bring to the association.

“I do believe our football in general sometimes needs someone with ground experience, one who knows the challenges of football. A good candidate among them is one who has been in the game before, either as a player or Administration,” said Kgolagano. 

Looking at individual capability, Kagiso said, Disang, a teacher by profession can blend well with the girl child, encourage and groom them well in to the game.

As for Magang, she has been an Athlete before and administrator at Volleyball and Sports Commission. Other candidates being new to the women football platform should as well not be taken lightly. She says for them to have risen up to the challenge and raised their hands, it shows they believe they can lead exceptionally well.

“Ncube was on Marketing at Gaborone United a club that has taken the route to professional football way back though they had challenges along the way. For her to hold that position means she has the expertise to market football and she can do the same for the women’s game.”  

“Setshedi being an entrepreneur, she has shown ambitions of building Sports through her foundation which this as well shows she has a desirable skill set, ” he said. 

Kgaogano says if and when some of them lose at the upcoming elections, they should no lose heart but should rather rally around the winning women and support them and share with them ideas they have to help grow the game.

“I also challenge them to also engage in other different structures of football so that they increase their representation even at Regions so that when we talk of delegates we can see other women who will be supporting and voting for them, ” he concluded.


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