P600, 000 windfall for Boteti women footballers

Kabelo Dipholo
DOING IT FOR FOOTBALL: Women footballers

Debswana agree three-year deal with the region

Boteti Women’s Football League received a much-needed shot in the arm on Saturday courtesy of Debswana.

Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines (OLDM) unveiled P600, 000 to sponsor the seven-team league for the next three years in a deal worth P200, 000 a season.

According to the Boteti Region Football Association Chairperson, Philimon Bunu, the sponsorship will cover match transportation for all teams and referees as well as referees’ payments.

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“Last season we stopped midway because teams failed to honour matches due to lack of transport. This sponsorship will come in handy; we’ll definitely finish the league this time!” observed the country’s longest serving regional chairperson, who commended Debswana for their continued support of football and promised their investment would soon reap rewards.

Bunu further said from the seasonal P200, 000, each club will receive two branded kits, 15 pairs of soccer boots and tracksuits for the officials.

“The dire financial constraints threatened the very existence of women football in the region but we did not despair. We went out and brought in two more clubs from Mmatshumo and Mokubilo to increase our clubs to seven. We hope to have an exciting league this season,” said Bunu, adding they also want to hold an annual tournament featuring teams from other regions to further expose the Boteti girls to competitive football.

“This cash injection will help us package an exciting league for our women. Our intention is to have at least 12 teams in the league,” said a visibly excited Bunu.

Currently the league consists of Letlhakane trio: Diamond Chiefs, Letlhakane United, and Tawana Top Girls. Other sides are Orapa All Stars, Dallas Park from Mmatshumo village, Boteti River Giants from Mokubilo and Desert Buffaloes from Rakops.

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For his part, Botswana Football Association (BFA) President, McLean Letshwiti, challenged other regions to follow Boteti’s sterling example.

He further commended Debswana, particularly the OLDM General Manager, Bakani Motlhabani, noting that by investing in women’s football, ‘the diamond legacy’ would live on forever.

“Only visionary leaders can invest in football,” Letshwiti declared.

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In his remarks, OLDM GM, Motlhabani revealed he fell in love with the ladies game after following the Women’s World Cup earlier this year.

“I wasn’t aware of the talent until I followed the World Cup and saw teams like England and USA. The talent is amazing!”

The GM said he was also moved by seeing one of the players arriving for the sponsorship launch carrying a baby on her back.

“That picture told me just what women football is all about,” Motlhabani said.

BFA National Executive Committee member, Tsoseletso Magang, who was brought in to oversee women football in the country, urged local ladies to soldier on despite the many challenges.

Recounting a tale from her volleyball playing days, she revealed they used to come up against teams from other African countries who’d breastfeed their babies at recess but still go on to win the match.

“They walloped us! Women can naturally multi-task, so nothing should stop you from playing football,” concluded Magang.

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