BY BOTLHALE KOOTHUPILE
“I am retiring from football after serving it for uninterrupted 22 good years as a player, a football coach and FIFA grassroots instructor,” a message pinged on my phone.
This was no ordinary message, nor was it just a random message from a random football supporter. The source of the text message is a reputable administrator and a former Botswana Premier League (BPL) board member.
“Ke a go leka to run semausunyana same hale (I am going to pursue my other business interests) and of course not in football,” explained the administrator.
The administrator joins hordes of others who are either turning or are considering turning their backs on sport.
From football to netball, from netball to athletics, and at most, even from the sports mother bodies, the best of local administrators are prepared to bolt out if new opportunities beckon.
The above mentioned administrator’s sentiments are shared by one other administrator from athletics, who, despite being a well of knowledge in the sport, has opted to stay away from sports administration.
On what could be the reason, the administrator also opined that ‘he is trying to pursue personal business interests’ away from sport.
While pursuing ‘other business interests away from the sport’ is the often given answer, if you dig a little deeper, sports politics comes as the main reason for such. Asked why good administrators are leaving sport, one administrator had this to say;
“Because it is infested with empty people and they don’t want to learn or share with others. They instead opt for self serving cartels at the expense of the suffering supporters who use their hard earned cash to grow sport. We have been a huge disappointment to the game in general,” he opined.
Speaking of sports politicians, another reputable administrator, who has also taken a break, answered curtly, “those people ba ka go leofisa.” (Loosely translated, ‘those people can make you lose your morals.’)
Another administrator, while reluctant to comment on the matter, concurred that local sport is overwhelmed by self serving individuals, something which the administrator felt restricted sport from reaching its potential.
“Sport is a great industry. I have learnt that sport is big and also an interesting environment and it can solve a lot of economic and social problems,” the administrator said.
Being a big business that sport is, the administrator said those who are in sport but have no interest of making it reach potential should either be cast aside or should let those who can run it.
“One thing Botswana has is talent and it needs us, but are we there as administrators to serve sport?” the administrator asked rhetorically.
The administrator went on to say given the intense politics in sport, it is sometimes better to walk away in order to ‘keep peace and avoid conflicts with other people.’
Speaking in an interview, veteran sports administrator Gabriel Ngele said factions within sports and the politics thereof make it difficult for good administrators to hold office.
Ngele opined that where self serving individuals hold power, good administrators tend to be the casualties if they do not turn a blind eye.
“Good administrators, for most of the time, decide to stay away to protect their own reputation and integrity. Our sport has people who are in it for personal gain at the expense of national interest and this is killing sports development,” he said.
“For good administrators to thrive, they have to have teams around them with which they have a common goal are in sport for sport and not for their own gain,” he added.
Ngele went on to state that where good administrators are voted into office by people with their own agendas, there tends to be clashes.