Mini-league Proposed As Clubs Seek Return To Action

  • Competitive league and cup action on hold for almost a year
  • Coaches Association has urged stakeholders to benchmark in Zambia, SA

BONGANI MALUNGA

In a bid to return to competitive action, local football clubs are embracing and supporting the idea of the formation of a ‘pre-season like’ mini-league to keep clubs active amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While many other leagues around the world have resumed, Botswana has adopted a cautious approach to returning to football while financial hurdles have also been mentioned as a hindrance in the early stages of local football’s resuscitation.

A document believed to be authored by the Botswana Football Association (BFA) Competitions Committee, which Gazette Sport is in possession of, has presented the idea of a mini league to keep local clubs active until July where plans of the next 2021/2022 season will be discussed.

“Having looked at different approaches which can be initiated in tackling the league issue, we propose that the National Executive Committee endorse the idea of playing a one-round league (mini league) commencing either last weekof February or the first week of March and ends not later than second week of May. The mini league will cover the Premiership, Debswana First Division and Regional Leagues including women’s football. We believe that lessons learnt during the promotional playoffs will come in handy during the mini league period,” the document reads.
In the leaked document the Competitions Committee further recommends that “the mini league will be played on a one round format with each team playing once against the other. The games will be played at a neutral venue which is within close proximity to the two teams involved in the game. The determination of neutral ground will focus more on the distance so as to reduce travelling costs for the involved teams

UPIC

According to the document, the mini-league will not have promotions or relegations as the tournament will only be done as a pre-season like competition to get teams ready for the 2021/2022 season. Teams could be able to get mobilization fees and/or grants to adhere to COVID-19 regulation. Reigniting fans’ interest in local football is one of the key reasons why the mini league idea has been brought up.

The Botswana Football Coaches Association has seconded the idea of a mini league. One of the association’s members Daniel ‘Chicco’ Nare told Gazette Sport that the return of competitive football will save a lot of jobs in the industry.

“Football should return, the return of competitive action would be life changing because we have not played for almost a year now. Players will not go unpaid and coaches will no be jobless if football returns. Schools, malls and shops are open, we believe football should also return if all the right measures are put in place. We have to benchmark in Zambia, South Africa and other countries around us, I would suggest that we send a delegation to get a closer look at how we can implement the ideas of other success stories around us,” Nare told this publication.