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A young boy’s sacrifice



A young boy's sacrifice

Mpene prepares for world champs

To be the best, sacrifices must be made.

For 11-year-old Thuto Mpene – the reigning Africa Schools U/11 Chess Champion – this involved leaving his parents’ home in Letlhkane and moving to Gaborone to stay with his coach.

Mpene was desperate to fine-tune his preparations ahead of the World Schools Individual Chess Championship, initially scheduled for Lima, Peru this month.

Thus, when schools closed on 23 March, the Standard Six Letlhakane Primary School pupil took the difficult decision to leave his loved ones behind for the good of his game.

With the Championship’s now postponed until early next year, Mpene, under the careful guidance of his coach, Opelo Maswabi, is hard at work honing his craft online.

A young boy's sacrifice
AIMING HIGH: The African champ

Mpene, along with countless other chess players across the country, have been taking part in an online tournament ‘Covid 19 Lockdown Blitz Challenge’ set up by FIDE International, Vincent Masole.

The games take place every day from 8p to 10pm.

In an exclusive interview with Voice Sport, Maswabi said the tournament was providing his young charge with good practice.

“He is improving his skills and working on his mistakes,” said Maswabi, proudly adding that Mpene recently beat Lesotho’s Female Chess Champion, Malehoa Likhomo.

“The good thing about online chess is that you can challenge opponents anywhere in the world. This is a great initiative because it keeps our players busy and Mpene is using it to prepare for the world champs,” continued Coach Maswabi, who admitted he actually ‘welcomed’ the global tournament’s postponement.

“I was supposed to be writing my final examination in May and I was not going to have enough time to coach him. Hopefully next year I will now be able to travel with him to Peru!”

For his part, Mpene, who qualified for Peru after winning eight and drawing one of his nine games at the African Schools Championships in Uganda last year, told Voice Sport it took him time to adapt to playing online.

A young boy's sacrifice
Thuto Mpene

“The online game is a bit tricky, at some point I finished on position 13!” revealed Mpene, who says that although he misses his parents, he is happy with the way his training is developing.

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Return of the MAK?



Return of the MAK?

Former President set for BFA comeback

Botswana Football Association (BFA) look set to retrace their steps, dipping 12-years into their past as they reportedly seek former President Phillip Makgalemele’s return.

It seems the association want Makgalemele back in the role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – a position currently occupied by Mfolo Mfolo.

Mfolo, who joined Lekidi in 2017, had his two-year contract renewed last September and is generally believed to be doing a decent job.

However, he remains on secondment from the Ministry of Tertiary Education and his appointment has always been viewed as temporary.

It is believed the BFA view Makgalemele as the ideal candidate to take over.

The one-time Minister of Sports – he took over briefly last year following Tshekedi Khama’s resignation – has a proud history with the sporting body, having served as President from 1998 to 2008.

In an exclusive interview with Voice Sport this week, Makgalemele admitted he would be tempted by a return to Lekidi, especially as he is out of work at the moment.

He revealed he submitted his CV to a recruitment agency to help him find a job, either locally or internationally, and is specifically seeking a CEO position.

The job-hunting former President ruefully added he was recently called to interview for the role of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Secretary General but did not get the job.

“What I can confirm is that I am a servant of this country and any job that come in line with my qualifications I will definitely go for it. Football is my passion so I would not rule out possibilities of going back to Lekidi, that is if the position is available,” explained Makgalemele.

When reached for a comment, BFA Vice President, Marshlow Motlogelwa acknowledged they were yet to fill the CEO post themselves.

Although he stressed the association are pleased with the job Mfolo is doing, he conceded that if they can find a suitable candidate to replace him they would release him back to the Ministry of Tertiary Education.

The BFA has a checkered record when it comes to CEOs, with previous incumbents Tosh Kgotlele, Duncan Kgame, Judge Mookodi, Keith Masters, Ookeditse Malesu and Kitso Kemoeng all failing to complete their terms after falling foul of the association.

The man currently in the role, Mfolo, declined to discuss the matter when contacted by Voice Sport.

Meanwhile, when asked for an update on the possible resumption of football activities, Motlogelwa explained there are certain regulations that must be followed due to the contact nature of the sport.

“There are specific precautionary measures that we need to ensure all teams will comply with,” he said, noting it is particularly difficult as most teams train outdoors where members of the public can pass by and fans regularly stop to watch training, potentially putting players at risk of catching Covid-19.

“How are they going to keep register of visitors? In some countries they have better training facilities that can be locked when players are training. It is going to be impossible for cleaning and disinfection of shared spaces. Our teams already have financial problems some of the requirements are going to be expensive. We are currently working on a proposal of how best we can adhere to the requirements,” stated a slightly exasperated Motlogelwa.

Last week the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) approved the resumtion of non-contact sporting activities.

Individual codes like athletics, badminton, cycling, darts, karate (individual kata), motor sport and tennis are now allowed to train.

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BFA welcomes COVID-19 stipend



BFA welcomes COVID-19 stipend

On Monday Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYSC), Tumiso Rakgare revealed the government’s plan to help the elite and second-tier leagues with player’s salary subsidies respectively.

Minister Rakgare stated that 25 players of all the 16 teams in the BTC premiership will be paid P2, 500 whilst first division players will each receive P1, 500 for the months of April. May and June.

Teams were expected to submit the required documentation for verification and due processes this week.

The Minister said it was inevitable for government to intervene as sports was the first discipline to be affected by Covid-19, citing the Mares Under 17 trip to Morocco that never materialized.

The Mares were scheduled to face their Moroccan counterparts for a return leg of the FIFA World Cup qualifier in March.

He further revealed that the subsidy is part of the P70 million set aside by the ministry to cushion the impact of Covid-19.

BFA welcomes COVID-19 stipend

“The subsidy is only for Batswana players, technical and office staff and monies will be directly deposited to player’s bank accounts to avoid situations where teams might use such funds for their daily expenses,” he said.

He further revealed that referees will be assisted through the FIFA relief fund as agreed with BFA.

Letshwiti hailed the intervention, which he said will cushion the effects of the pandemic on the socio- economic lifestyles of players and technical members involved in running of the clubs.

“This will also go a long way in giving club leaders a reprieve during this challenging time,” he said.

The BFA President said club leaders and owners are custodians of football events and this financial assistance is critical in sustaining players and eventually the clubs they represent.

“The BFA is truly humbled by this noble gesture of unity. We have since availed P40,000 to BPL clubs as a reprieve to help clubs mitigate these devastating consequences,” he saud.

He further said, together with their partners, including government, they continue to discuss sustainable means to get football out of the woods.

“We truly are encouraged by the posture adopted by Honorable Minister Rakgare in finding the most reasonable and practical solution to the problems football faces in the country,” Letshwiti said.

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