The Empire strikes back

I am disturbed greatly by  Olebile Sikwane’s piece in The Gazette issue  of 06-12th November 2013 and am considering my position legally but must first ask the question as to what exactly this person knows about the Botswana Football Association. I have never met or spoken to Sikwane to my knowledge. I have made enquiries in respect of him and have been given to understand from several quarters that there are several issues in respect of his credibility therefore I would ask what gives him the right to judge others, who have a much higher rating where the aforesaid credibility is concerned than he has?

The attention of both the Sports Editor and Sikwane is drawn to the Latin expression ‘Audi Alteram Partem’ which is well ingrained into the common law legal system and translated into English means that ‘No one shall be condemned unheard’. It is one of the three basic principles of law which Sikwane and, I suggest; the Botswana Gazette has failed to apply. I strongly recommend that such is considered by you in future to avoid litigation which could easily occur if articles such as Sikwane’s continue to appear in print.

I note in his second sentence that he ‘observed with great pain!’ Why has he not picked the telephone up to speak to the cause of this great pain? I can tell you why because people like him are craven cowards. They do not have the ‘guts’ but like to hide behind newspapers etc which they feel will protect and allow them to peddle their filth unhampered, and for somebody who never attends any BFA media conferences, I am surprised he has so much information.
The fact that he is worried about what I earn, etc does not faze me other than to ask why it should concern him. I am not concerned by what he earns. He makes the sweeping statement that BFA’s problems get worse by the day. What problems is he talking about? Yes we have challenges (who do not?) which we have to address and we can and will address them but his sweeping comment is in my opinion, libelous.

I believe the press is, in some ways, culpable for adding to the problems of the Zebras players. Much of the press continually produces problematical and damaging reports in advance of ‘big’ games. Why do they pursue this course of action? Surely they would be better of hyping up the team and printing positivity rather than the negative elements. It appears some factions of the press seek a problem in every opportunity!  Why can’t they look for an opportunity in every problem? There is one newspaper in Botswana that I have to subscribe to. I will not name it but it comes out on a Saturday! I have to read in that journal what is going on at BFA. I have read many reports and so far the only thing I have ever seen correct is the date at the top of the page. That is not purveying news which is what I thought was the purpose of a newspaper. It is peddling gossip but it has an adverse effect. Potential sponsors note these derogatory comments and feel unable to give support because of the grossly unfair image portrayed by certain factions of the media.

In addition, to being a football administrator I am also a great supporter of the game. I am not a good loser but I try to be a fair loser! If my team is beaten by a better team on the day I cannot complain. If my team is beaten by a team who may well not have been better than my team but takes its chances when my team does not, again, I cannot complain. A poet called Grantland Rice penned the following words:-
“For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name,
He writes – not that you won or lost but how you played the game”

Rice was implying that winning was not everything and I agree with that. To me winning is the only thing. That is why we play – to win but we have to accept defeat with grace if the factors mentioned above prevail.
What must be pointed out (although I should not have to) is to draw attention to the fact that Botswana, territorially, is large; the population is small – 2. 2 million I am given to understand. If one assumes that half of the population is female then that leaves 1.1 million men in the, so called, range of ‘womb to tomb’. If, speculatively, the prime age of a footballer is considered on average to be 18-35 then there is only a percentage of male persons in that range and only a further percentage of the standard required to participate in football at the highest level. Therefore, I am firmly of the opinion that with the limited resources available to us then we are anything but pathetic.

Sikwane then comes out with a disgusting lie when he states that ‘our foreign based players continue to pay for their own flights while coming on Zebras duty’. They do not. Their flights and other expenses are paid for by BFA. Indeed one of the first thing the President – Tebogo Sebego – and myself got to grips with was to ensure players received their fees and allowances on time and we will continue to ensure that such is the case.
He talks about my ‘failure’ to get Zebras a European friendly. I have made several enquiries but it has to be realized the demands on European teams are such that in ‘friendly’ match terms their programmes are mapped out several years ahead. Using my contacts in England, I have a promise that if a date becomes available then consideration will be given. It is usual with European teams visiting that large financial guarantees are made but it is something I continue to try and pursue.

In general, I have a concern that I am not progressing as quickly as I had hoped, but progress is being made. The main problem I have is lack of resources which I am discussing with the National Executive Committee.
I said when I was introduced to the press that I viewed this as ‘the best job in the world,’ I still maintain that view and will continue to strive to do my best for Botswana. I want to work with the press and media to show to the country and, indeed, to Africa the good we are quietly achieving. The press and media, at large, seem not to want to help but I can categorically state that although it would be better to achieve with the help of the press and media; if we cannot get that help we will still achieve despite you. EDITOR’S NOTE: THE LETTER HAS BEEN EDITED FOR LENGTH
Keith Masters
Botswana Football Association CEO