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Compared with their counterparts in neighbouring SA, to say nothing of further afield in Europe, top flight football players in Botswana are paid a pittance. But for a player in a country that has the dubious distinction of being the world’s most unequal society, commanding P20 000 per month is four times the national average and therefore in the league of the notable. TLOTLO KEBINAKGABO reports

While football is one of the most lucrative sports around the world due to hefty salaries that players get paid, the honeypot is absent from Botswana.

According to a research carried out by Gazette Sport no player in Botswana is paid more than P20 000 per month in the BTC premiership at least officially. Some players are reportedly paid salaries of close to P30 000 per month but all club officials across the league that this publication interviewed have dismissed this.

To find out how local teams pay their players, this publication engaged with the top five teams on the BTC premiership log standings. These are also the teams that many in football circles believe can afford to pay their players attractive salaries.

Township Rollers – P15 000 to P20 000
Having won the premier league 16 times, Popa, as Rollers are affectionately known, pays the best of their players between P15 000 and P20 000 per month. This was confirmed by club president Jagdish Shah in an interview with this publication. However, sources at the club suggest that influential players like Kabelo Dambe, Lemponye Tshireletso and Ofentse Nato are paid between P25 000 and P30 000.

Rollers enjoy the financial backing of tycoon Shah who owns many businesses, among them Jack’s Gym, Zebra Net and H & G Advertising. He is also a shareholder in one of Botswana’s biggest distribution companies, CA Sales. The club’s monthly wage bill is believed to be between P350 000 and P400 000.

Security Systems – P10 000
The club gained promotion to the elite league at the end of 2015/16 first division south season and has finished within the top eight twice in its three seasons in the league so far. According to the club’s manager Billy Molebatsi, their highest paid player commands P10 000 per month. He says the team uses the pay structure of Security Systems Limited, the company that finances it. But Molebatsi took the opportunity of the interview to sound an ominous note: this figure could be reduced in the course of time because the company is not making much money from football. Players like Ronald Chikomo, Kenanao Kgetholetsile and Thatayaone Ramatlapeng are believed to be among the club’s highest paid. This is the club whose monthly wage bill is P350 000.

Jwaneng Galaxy – P17 000 to P20 000
The Jwaneng-based outfit came about in 2014 when two teams, Jwaneng Comets and Debswana Youngsters, were merged. Galaxy then gained promotion to Botswana’s top flight league in 2015/16 season and have never finished outside the top eight. The club, which enjoys the financial backing from the country’s rich diamond mining company Debswana, has won the prestigious Mascom Top 8 tournament twice.

Although spokesperson Tankiso Morake will not comment on this, reliable sources say the club’s highest paid player earns between P17 000 to P20 000 per month. The team’s managers say they are wary of stating player’s salaries openly because doing so could result in conflicts. Sources say Lebogang Ditsile and Thero Setsile are the club’s highest paid players.

Gaborone United – P15 000
“The Money Machine,” as Gaborone United is better known, is one of the country’s oldest football clubs, GU having been founded in 1967. Well known for the players’ red and white colours, ‘The Money Machine’ have won the local league six times, the last time in the 2008/2009 season under the tutelage of Mike Sithole. The club has also won the FA Cup six times. As the first team in Botswana to turn professional between 2010 and 2012, GU’s best paid player earns P15 000, according to its financier Nicholas Zakhem. “And there are some bonuses that include housing allowances,” Zakhem told this publication. “The monthly wage bill is P375 000. It includes administration expenses and the salaries of members of the technical team.” The likes of Thatayaone Kgamanyane, Godwin Bonsu, Alphonse Modisaotsile and Joel Mogorosi are said to be the club’s highest players.

Orapa United – P18 000- P20 000
The club joined Botswana’s top flight football in the 2014/15 season . “The Ostriches,” as the team is otherwise known, have over the yearssigned big-name players like Ronald Chikomo (now at Systems), Lesego Galenamotlhale (now at GU) and Onkabetse Makgantai. This does not come as a surprise as the most paid player at the club commands between P18 000 and P20 000 per month, according to spokesperson Kabo William. But sources say players like Makgantai and Thabang Mosige earn about P25 000 per month. Nevertheless, the club’s monthly wage bill stands at P300 000. Like Galaxy, this club enjoys financial backing from Debswana.

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