Saturday, June 3, 2023

Time for healing as dust settles on divisive football politics

The battle for the heart and soul of Botswana football was settled yesterday as delegates voted in a committee to lead local football for the next four years. For many football observers, this was the most fiercely contested battles in living memory. In its wake, it left the local football fraternity divided, battered and in need of healing. 

As the new committee takes to office, first in their mandate should be an attempt to heal the rifts caused by the divisive race to the BFA leadership.   “We have to accept the fact that local football is divided right now. A mammoth task now lies ahead for those who have taken office as they have to deal with the issue of a polarised football fraternity,” Mmegi Sports Editor Mqondisi Dube observed. “A lot of people think the elections were ‘the big thing.’ However, the biggest and most important thing starts on Monday when the new committee takes office because they will have to start working towards healing the rifts in local football,” he opined. 

According to Dube, following a very divisive campaign for local football’s highest office, “there is a lot of anger and everyone involved seems intent on exerting some form of vengeance on his or her rivals”. With all this in mind, he is of the view that what local football now needs is a unifying factor, “someone to unite not just clubs, but also administrators, supporters and sponsors behind the game.

 “There are a lot of issues of mistrust within these important stakeholders. For those who came into office, the first and most important thing will be to restore trust within the different stakeholders” Dube said. 

According to Dube, if it was up to him, the new committee should “do a Nelson Mandela” and call a meeting to reconcile and unite all rival factions.’ 

The same sentiments were echoed by Yarona FM Sports Editor, Kagiso “Fox” Phatsimo, who, just as Dube, opined that the newly elected BFA NEC needs to call all factions to the table to broker peace. He, however, expressed concerns that given the prevailing toxic atmosphere, this will be a difficult job to do. “After the elections, we all now have to go back to support and build football. My concern, however, is that as it stands no one from all the warring factions seems to be ready to work with their rivals. Unfortunately, we may end up in a situation where rival members of all camps are elected into the committee and will be forced to work with each other,” Phatsimo said. 

With this in mind, the Yarona Sports Editor said it would be in the interest of football for all factions to put their differences aside and “create a space for reconciliation”. 

“Being rivals in the football field and in football politics should not be taken into the boardroom. With all the elections now past, everyone will have to take stock of himself and work towards uniting football, and this starts with the president of the BFA. Unfortunately, most of our sports leaders lack integrity and honesty and I therefore do not see them owning up to create a space for that much needed reconciliation,” Phatsimo said. 

However, he was not optimistic that local football administrators can work together. He said as has been the norm, he anticipates the current atmosphere, where rivals who voted to the BFA NEC continue to “sabotage” their rivals within the committee to prevail. 


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