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Following the Botswana Football League (BFL) board’s recent decision to reduce teams playing in the league from 16 to 12 in the 2024/25 season, some football pundits have expressed mixed reactions about the resolution.
The decision means that only two teams will be promoted from the first division league, one from north and another from south.
Speaking to Times Sport, seasoned football administrator and Gaborone United spokesperson Herbert Letsebe is of the view that the decision is a good move, arguing that the state of local football is very low as compared to that of neighboring South Africa which only has16 teams in the league despite their large population of over 65 million people. “Then why not us, who have only 2 million people and we have an unprofessional league with lack of good stadia?” he wondered.
Letsebe stressed that Botswana has the worst league with lack of proper coordination from the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and BFL. He however applauded that the football leadership is now waking from its slumber and realising that it is time to change things.
“We do not have enough stadiums to accommodate 16 clubs for 32 matches because if we were to go by FIFA standards, there should be no league in Botswana because we do not meet those standards. Only the national stadium, Lobatse stadium and Itani Chilume stadium in Francistown can pass FIFA standards to accommodate our league though they are also not that qualifying,” he said.
Former Nico United PRO, Ntibi Kedikilwe on the other hand does not see the need to reduce the premier league teams to 12 as he believes that there has been a phenomenal growth of football in the country with teams from far flung areas like Maun, Sua town, Serowe, Palapye, Mahalapye and other places getting promoted to the elite league.
According to him, the 16-team stream is actually very good in the sense that a bigger size league ensures that there is inclusivity but with a small league, they can be rest assured that football returns to be an exclusive preserve of urbanites.
“The move will likely see Botswana football losing further ground on competitiveness because football will only be enjoyed in Gaborone, Francistown and Selebi-Phikwe,” he argued.
For his part, football analyst, Octopus Mangole believes the idea of trimming the clubs to 12 will promote quality than numbers. He is convinced that the league will now be well managed and competitive than when it featured 16 clubs.
“Our league has not been managed well and looking at the grant that this teams get, I believe it is enough for the 12 teams,” he argued.
Another veteran football administrator, Ashford Mamelodi has also welcomed the decision, arguing that it will work for local football.
“I have long advised on this issue so for now I am happy that the board has seen its importance in this regard therefore let’s all support the idea and see to it how it will turn up,” he said.