Having worked within the Botswana Premier League for a season, I realised that one of the most urgent matters that clubs need to address is the privacy of their training, programme and planning.
It is important for clubs to protect players from unruly supporters who hurl the unpleasant and the unprintable at them. Their planning programmes and tactical approach to the game should remain top secret from outsiders and opponents.
How do you do this? You close out third parties from entering your training grounds or facility so that the technical team is able to plan accordingly without any hindrance from external people.
A modern football club is like any other commercial enterprise or company. It has secrets and they plan their approach in the same manner that a company like Choppies or Debswana plans its targets and goals for activity in the market place.
Clubs in Botswana are quite open. There is nothing internal or private about their operation. So much goes out immediately when a decision is reached or even mooted within. The training is open to everybody! This is shocking. Maybe two or three clubs remain private in the way they carry out their training because of the facilities they use but all other clubs have to plan in the open, with journalists and supporters watching!
As it is, a Centre Chiefs coach can attend a Notwane FC training every day after his training, or he could send his assistant to take notes on what is happening at the opponents training. This is amateurish and does not make us look serious in the eyes of people coming from outside.
What it means is that, it would be normal for Pitso Mosimane of Sundowns to watch training of Kaizer Chiefs at Naturena, and means that Kaizer Chiefs coach Giovanni Solinas could do the same with Sundowns at Chloorkorp! Never.
It would be impossible for Jose Mourinho to go and watch training of Man City at City grounds, or for Pep Guardiola to go watch Man United drilling. This can’t happen. These are rivals. They compete for big money, big titles. They want to win at all costs. There is a huge expectation from supporters who travel long distances and buy season tickets to watch these matches.
Our clubs in Botswana do not have a choice because there is no infrastructure. They can’t train in private and enclosed facility because they are poor. They do not own training grounds and they continue to train on open grounds, predominantly fields owned by the Council in their towns.
The important message is that clubs need to transform, from society into companies which would own land and develop it. As it is, clubs are managed by part time people who do not come on board for a vision and objectives, but to be famous. The planning is narrow minded. It is not sustainable nor does it leave a legacy.
Most players from abroad refuse to come and play in Botswana because of the conditions. The grounds are bad and the training in an open space is new to them.
In the modern day game, a club has what they call a Media Day, where the media is invited to come and watch training. They are able to conduct interviews with players, coaches and management on that day. Most PSL clubs do it, and almost all European clubs do it on a monthly basis to keep the public and supporters abreast with what is going on at their club.
While we pontificate and postulate on professionalism, it is imperative that we took this important aspect of the game seriously. With clubs under society, very little of attempts towards professionalism will be possible because a society modus operandi is diametrically opposed to what a commercial entity would ordinarily strive towards, which is profit and professionalism.