In a few weeks, the Mascom Premier League is comes to an end. Immediately after that, a series of tournaments is going to follow. The lucrative Coca Cola Cup is set to be first on the off-season calendar and will end either on the last week of August or the first week of September, a period when the league would be about to start.
There is also going to be the Orange Kabelano Charity Cup. With rumours that a major sponsor is in the offing for the top eight tournament, teams are going to have a hectic time before the league commences and are not going to rest. Those teams with more players in both the under 23 and the national teams are going to face a predicament.
The two tournaments alone look set to disrupt most teams’ pre-season training, as they would not have much time to adequately assess their players.
Some teams are concerned about the looming situation. The Manager of Mochudi Centre Chiefs, Lebogang Seboni, told The Sunday Standard that Botswana should follow the way other countries run their leagues to avoid player burn-out, which would result in players performing below par.
“This is a serious issue which needs urgent attention. The officials of both the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and the Premier League should sit down and map the way forward. In some countries, like in neighbouring South Africa, tournaments are run at the same time as the league and finish almost at the same time. Then there are pre season tournaments, like Vodacom challenge and Top eight. Why can’t we do it here in Botswana? Our players are facing a situation where by they are going to collapse while playing,” he said.
Seboni also said since their team also has several players in the Under 23 and senior team the team might struggle despite having quality material.
Seboni also added that maybe there are other factors which teams are not aware of that result in the association planning things in such a tight manner.
Father Maphogo, a Township Rollers official, viewed the situation differently. He said fingers must not be pointed to anybody because there is no body to blame, but limited facilities are the main problem. He said if teams had their own stadiums the situation could be different.
“What is happening is a national crisis which concerns everybody. In this country, there are very limited facilities and it would be difficult for tournaments to be played concurrently with the league. Many teams share stadiums like the National Stadium, Molepolole and others. If, at least, teams can partner with other companies and build stadiums it could be better. The reason why other countries like South Africa finish their league on time is because almost all of them have stadiums,” he said.
Maphogo also said Botswana is not the only country which faces this dilemma. He said several other countries play all season long without a break. He, however, said the situation is also a blessing in disguise for Botswana because it is a learning curve and, in future, things would be run in a proper manner.
But one coach who preferred anonymity said it is possible to run the league and tournaments simultaneously in Botswana. He said the facilities in Botswana are not bad compared to other countries and such countries plan their programmes well.
The coach pointed a finger at both the Premier League and the BFA for not always planning ahead. He said things are always done haphazardly resulting in chaotic situation as happened this season.
“We never prepare our teams the way we want to because of playing non stop. After the league, it is tournaments and what about those teams that are going to be eliminated early? They are going to be dormant, especially during the time of the Coca-Cola Cup that takes longer period to finish. This should be a wake up call,” he said.
Efforts to contact either the Premier League or the BFA were futile at the time of going to press.