Botswana league hangs in the balance

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Botswana clubs will hear this week whether the new season will go ahead as scheduled for 26 February.

The diamond-rich nation is under pressure to scrap the 2020/21 season over the rise in Covid-19 cases.

Botswana had to discontinue the league last season, handing then log leaders the title as Covid-19 started ravagingly sweeping across the world.

The much-awaited new season is scheduled for later this month, but the Botswana Football League Transformation Committee last week recommended that the season be pushed to July.

The recommendation comes at a time the country is morning the passing of former national team coach Major David Bright who lost the battle to Covid-19.

Following his death, Sport Minister Tumiso Rakgare declared all contact sports suspended.

The Transformation Committee’s chairperson, Jagdish Shah confirmed they had written to the Botswana Football Association (BFA) advising the country’s football motherbody to postpone the season.

In response, the association has set up a task force to assess the situation and its findings are expected this week.

“The committee has sent a resolution to the BFA saying that we are at a time that there is a lot of confusion, there is a spike in COVID-19 cases.

“It is no longer just the numbers, it is people we know, people who we are close with. So this makes everything not just for football but life, in general, to be difficult. So we wrote to the BFA like a month ago,” Shah said.

Tshepho Motlhabankwe of Township Rollers and Atisang Batsi of Jwaneng Galaxy FC fights for the ball during the Botswana Premier League match between Township Rollers and Jwaneng Galaxy held at National stadium on the 16th April 2018

The committee has proposed that the season start in July when the cases would probably be lower, the fear levels and the number of deaths gone down.

They hope by then, Botswana would have started rolling out a Covid-19 vaccine. While pondering over whether to resume football activities, Botswana still has to finalise a sponsorship deal for the league.

“Look, it has been difficult to meet people in person because of the situation we live in. But we have conducted a few zoom meetings and there are agreements in place.

“The problem is sponsors now do not want to sign for a reason that we are yet to know of when the league will start,” Shah said.

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By Mthokozisi Dube

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