For the past seven years Tonota FC chairman MaokanengBontshetsehas been running thesoccer team from his own pocket.
But now he hopes those days are gone, thanks to a P6 million sponsorship from Debswana mining company.
The 3-year sponsorship, announced on Tuesday in Gaborone, will benefit all teams in the first division league. It will cover transport, accommodation, players’ welfare and administration costs.
“I once lost points for missing a game at Maun because we did not have money to cover travelling and accommodation expenses,” Bontshetsetold Voice Sport. “We were suffering.”
Last weekend Bontshetse even used his child’s tuition fees to cover team expenses, and he feared she might be expelled from school.
Now he says he can sleep again at night.
Speaking at Tuesday’s launch, Debswana chairman Eric Molalepointed out that it was an “immense challenge” for clubs and administrators to run a competitive league without resources.
“It is very important to support football from the lower divisions as they feed the premier league,” he added.
Molale said that Debswana values the “all-round development” of every human being, which is why the company “strives for the improvement of local sport”.
Bontshetse believes the new sponsorship will develop a culture of professionalism among players.
“They used to boycott training sessions but I couldn’t ever question them because they were volunteers,” he said.
He recalled a match at Maun, when the referees refused to let some players onto the pitch because they were wearing trainers.
“When we get the grant, I will definitely buy them soccer boots,” he said.