Writer | Laone Molelo
Published Online | 8-2-2018
Published Physical Copies | 1-2-2018

Gumare United football Team Manager, Ronald Philip,  has called on government to provide insurance cover for players participating in the constituency football tournament

The request follows an accident involving 14 members of the Gumare United football team at Tsau village. The team was travelling to Sehithwa to participate in a constituency football tournament, when the van they were travelling in overturned, killing 5 people.

He also pleaded with government to improve the standard of the tournament, adding that participating in the tournament is expensive. Philip said the players usually contribute from their pockets to travel across the region and also across the country.

Philip said preparations for the memorial service and funeral of the five players are underway.
“On Sunday we convened a meeting where we requested all stakeholders to assist in whichever way they can. A committee has also been set up to help raise funds for both the deceased players and those that have been hospitalized,” said Philip.

Philip said they are yet to establish whether some of the team members were insured, adding that they did not have insurance cover for them as a team.
On the other hand, Government has said players taking part in the constituency league are not insured.
The constituency league was introduced by President Ian Khama as an initiative to develop sports and also remove unemployed youth from the streets.

On the other hand, Botswana Football Association spokesperson, Tumo Mpatane, said although the constituency football tournament does not fall under their structures, discussions are ongoing with the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development to come up with a better formula to ensure that the talent scouted during the the tournament can be signed up by professional teams.

“This accident is a lesson for our teams, and for those outside our structures, to understand the importance of safety and having the necessary precautions when travelling, but we must highlight again that it is an unfortunate incident and we will continue to send messages of condolences and wish a speedy to those affected by the accident,” said Mpatane.

He also said they are also currently engaging the ministry to assess how best they can assist the affected families.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Kago Ramokate, said their responsibility as the ministry is to ensure that the tournament is well organized.
He also said as the Ministry they are not responsible for providing transport or logistics for any team apart from the last two teams.

Ramokate further said in terms of the safety of the players, it is their expectation that when injured, the players are well attended to and cared for, by public medical practitioners.

“Overseers of the tournament in various villages are well informed that it is their responsibility to engage their respective medical practitioners to always assist with medical attention,” said Ramokate.
Ramokate further said the accident is a learning curve for them as that will help them to review all aspects they introduced to the constituency football to make it better and attractive.

He also said as government they do not want to end up imposing tough regulations which will ultimately inhibit people from taking part.

When asked whether he does not see the accident as a potential scare to aspiring participants of the tournament, Ramokate dismissed the idea by saying that there will always be tournaments such as the Xmas football tournaments and others across the country. He added that it is upon every participant to ensure that the vehicle they are using is roadworthy and their time of travel is reasonable.

Meanwhile, Officer Commanding District no.5, Peter Gochela, said the accident happened in the early hours of Saturday morning in Tsau village.

Gochela said a van was carrying 14 passenger from Gumare en route to Sehithwa when the driver lost control of the car and it overturned several times.

“We are investigating a case in which a van was carrying 14 passengers, apparently these people were going to participate in a football tournament in Sehithwa. 5 people lost their lives while some were taken to Letsholathebe Memorial hospital in Maun and 2 others were treated and discharged on the same day,” said Gochela.
He further said the average age of the deceased players ranges between 16 and 27 years.

Gochela also advised drivers to be always cautious on the road especially when travelling during the night, as some roads are in a bad state, and they are infested with animals.

Meanwhile, the team manager has appealed to members of the public to assist in the funeral costs and medical coverage for those injured. He says they will provide information on where members of the public can make their pledges.