Sports administrator, author spills the beans

Portia Mlilo
FOOTBALL MAD: Molefhi Obenne

Football, lies and greed

Molefhi Obenne is a sports administration expert and the owner of a football team, Palapye All Stars.

He also runs a football academy, which contributed a lot to the local football development and produced national team players.

Due to his passion for football and frustrations that comes with sports administration 36-year-old Obenne published a book titled, Botswana Football: A Fool’s Paradise.

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This year he was engaged as a National Course Director on BNOC sports management courses meant to train Sports Administrators on subjects like organising sport events, governance, and strategy among others.

Our reporter Portia Mlilo had a chat with Obenne about his involvement in sports development and his new book.

Q. What made you write the book?

A. One day I was reading a book called Soccernomics, which is about European football so I developed an idea of writing a book about Botswana football.

There is too much lies, empty promises in our football so I wanted to name the book Lies in Our Football.

I started to pen it down an eight chapters book.

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The book is about the experience I had with coaches, players, supporters and other administrators in my quest to improve our football.

I remember Township Rollers wanted to sign our player Mohutsiwa and that time we had loaned him to Motlakase, it was a tussle.

Motlakase wanted money for his transfer while they knew he was on loan.

So these are some of the things I wrote about.

Q. Kindly explain the book title to our readers?

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A. Most of the people in our football are self-serving.

I gave the book to my friend Kago Mosinyi and after reading it he said I should change the tittle from Football Lies to Botswana Football: A Fool’s Paradise.

In our football one can come and fool around and never held responsible and taken to task hence it is a fool’s paradise.

Q. How is it doing in the market?

A. It is currently doing well and I have already sold 237 copies at P150 each.

There is one guy called Ian who is a football tourist from UK who came here in January saying he read the book and wants to get a feeling of our football.

He watched a few games, interacted with players and coaches and the feedback he gave me was that 80% of what I wrote about is true.

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Q. What impact do you think this book will have in our football?

A. It teaches people about our football and the challenges of the sport.

If you are inspired to be involved in the game, it will give you a different perspective on how to deal with those issues.

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It is an eye opener, people need to know what is happening in our sports.

Our football is like cul-desac road sign. We change the president and the body remains the same.

How many times have we had Senki Sesinyi, Marshlow Motlogelwa in that committee and Segolame Ramotlhwa rotating in the committees?

Same problems will always prevail hence there is no progress.

Q. What are some of the challenges you faced when writing the book?

A. I had no sponsor.

I almost gave up on the dream.

I started by printing 10 copies with my salary.

I approached my employer Boitekanelo College to help me with the launch and Botho University also came on board.

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The launch was very successful.

Dr Molosiwa came on board as my Manager and she also helped in editing it.

Q. From your side, why do you think our football is dying?

A. It is all about personal vendettas at Lekidi.

When Tebogo Sebego came into leadership he created enemies because he repaid some and forgot others in his campaign team.

There were others who wanted to be in control and he did not listen to them.

Maclean Letshwiti, the current BFA President was his backbencher and Sebego did not want to listen to his ideas and he decided to challenge him for the top post.

He came in with no football agenda but wanted to prove Sebego wrong.

Whatever he implements he wants to show Sebego who he is and how he forgot to serve football.

Sebego had a constitution, sponsors in place which increased value and money every season.

Letshwiti forgot to read the manual and therefore we lost BTC sponsorship despite him a celebrated businessman.

We need a president with football administration in mind.

We always want to prove each other wrong and by doing that there are lot of pit falls.

Q. In 2010 you came up with the e-ticketing concept, what happened to it?

A. We were doing well in our piloting project with Extension Gunners and BDF XI and in the midst of that after selling Gunners and BMC game there was a press conference.

We were never told about its agenda, only to find out it is about e-ticketing and that it is going to be adopted by Botswana Premier League.

They engaged another company to do it only for the project to fail.

It was some kind of sabotage because there is a lot of backstabbing in football.

This was meant to promote accountability and transparency because games get well attended and the next thing players are not getting paid and management claim there is no money.

Q. When Palapye All Stars started it was a development side, now it is in division although it was once promoted to first division, tell us a bit about its journey.

A. The team was started by Ambrose Chima from Nigeria and I was the General Manager in 2012.

In 2015 he left and I took over the running of the team.

We are following the right development path, which is why we went to first division.

Our mandate is development of players so that professional teams can buy our products.

We start afresh almost every season which is why we are not consistent on the league.

Every two years we have a new group of players.

We also have an academy that drills U13, 15 and 17.

We are doing well on that.

Q. In 2013 your academy introduced tri-nation model, how has it been doing in terms of players’ development?

A. We have tri-nation model which include three countries South Africa, Lesotho and Botswana.

During the Easter holidays we host U15 and 17 tournament in Palapye at BIUST, September we go to South Africa and December Lesotho.

There is a cultural exchange amongst the three nations.

Morupule Mine, Broadway Motors, Golden Home, Wusa company have come on board to sponsor the tournament.

Through this initiative Bakang Hope Boima is currently with Highlands Park U17 team and he was spotted during these tournaments in South Africa.

Last year he was awarded player of the year.

We have a lot of scholarship opportunities for this project but our players are not doing well academically and do not meet the requirements.

Every year Lesotho sends two players to United States of America.

Our players fail academically and as of next year we are going to run a fully fledged academy and these players will stay there.

We have signed a deal with Lebogang Tutorials which will be helping our players with their school work.

Q. Who is your inspiration?

A. The late Chips Keotswele of Green Lovers. He started the team from nothing, spending his family resources running the club and it ended up in premier league.

Jwaneng Galaxy Coach Oris Radipotsane is also my inspiration, he groomed me when he was at Motlakase Power Dynamos.

The other person is Jomo Sono of Jomo Cosmos football team, who did it al as a Coach, Manager, driver and I look at him and say I’m just like him.

I draw a lot of inspiration from these people.

Q. What advice can you give to those aspiring to be Sports Administrators?

A. For something to happen, you don’t wait, put it into action and someone will see your efforts and come on board. When we started tri-nations we did not have sponsors and now we have more than five.

You have to be ready to make a lot of sacrifices, be committed and the results will come.

You should also have passion for sports.

Q. Thank God it’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?

A. Weekends are dedicated strictly to football.

On Friday I will be traveling to Palapye as we are working on preparations for the tri-nation tournament.

On Saturday my team is playing against Palapye Swallows and on Sunday we host Moshopha Tigers at Dikabeya.

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