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Constituency leagues face chop

Publishing Date : 04 February, 2019

Author : MOSIMANEGAPE TSHOSWANE

A sense of delight is sweeping across the sport fraternity boardrooms owing to the new and developing reports that the government of Botswana is considering to bring down the controversial constituency tournaments.


Although high ranking officials at the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development have rebuffed such reports as ‘reckless and baseless’, sources speaking with WeekendSport indicate that talks are set to start between government and BFA officials. While some quarters are detecting a political ploy by the new administration to frustrate the past leadership, sources state that the tournament has pierced government’s purse for a long time.


Furthermore, it is argued that the tournament has led to the demise of some registered clubs at regional level. Annually, the tournament needs a budget of P 40 million to be run and administered in all 57 constituencies.  Close to 80 000 players participate on a tournament that see athletes from football, volleyball and netball. In November 2018, a circular that would later cause confusion and havoc was leaked suggesting that the constituency sport tournament cycle three and arts competition cycle two have been postponed.


The circular read in part, “ The Ministry of Youth Empowerment Sport and Culture development- Gaborone district wishes to inform the general public that CST Cycle 3 and CAC Cycle 2 has been suspended owing to lack of funds until further notice…” The ministry however disowned the circular, but since then, speculation about the existence of the tournament has always gained traction.


In the past, the football constituency tournament has opened a can of worms between Botswana Football Association (BFA) and the government when FIFA, a world football governing body descended into the country, demanding answers on the logic behind government running football and not BFA.  A common understanding was however reached that BFA will be responsible for the technical administration of the game while the government, which is the main financer, will continue to police the league.


This issue has been debated for some time until it reached a boiling point in 2014. Former FIFA Development officer Ashford Mamelodi was once tasked with an assignment to devise a solution that would have seen government and BFA reaching an agreement. One other key mind was Kgosana Masaseng who is the secretary of Footballer Union of Botswana. He was tasked with coming up with a list of key strategists to help fast-track the discussions to break the constituency tournaments stalemate.


Politicians from across the spectrum were at the time at each other’s throat especially after information spread that FIFA had given the BFA until September 22 to come up with convincing answers to the issue of Constituency tournaments.  The BFA, according to those close to the game, had written to FIFA in Zurich, complaining about the impact of Constituency tournaments on mainstream football in Botswana.


FIFA swiftly sent a two-man delegation to Botswana on a fact-finding mission to assess the impact of constituency tournaments, which were introduced in 2008 in an attempt by Government to address youth unemployment, among other thorny issues.  It was called the constituency sport tournament programme as it coincided with the political constituency boundaries for its implementation and administration.


The FIFA delegation after meeting both Government officials led by the then  acting Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, Vincent Seretse, and the Tebogo Sebego- former led BFA, wasted no time in giving feedback to key stakeholders. In no time, the mission was completed and a report compiled for the world governing body. However, the country waits in bated breath to see if the government will actually take the bold decision to stop it.

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