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This past Sunday, Eswatini Football Association (EFA) President Peter ‘Samora’ Simelane presided over the organisation’s Ordinary General Assembly (OGA) for the first time since he was elected into the hot seat 421 days ago.

Unlike the past year’s elective general assembly, the mood had to be relaxed this time around. As usual, the president had to set the tone with his opening address and he touched on some of the pertinent issues which included the eagerly-awaited establishment of a technical centre in Manzini. Sadly, in the president’s speech there was no timeline attached to the project, again. “Preliminary works are being done to secure land for the envisaged project,” was all he could say. The need to conclude this project cannot be overstated because you cannot talk about football development without infrastructure.


Expectedly, the meeting reached boiling point with the presentation of the financial report, which showed a healthy balance sheet for the organisation. However, it was Simelane’s reaction to the submissions of the delegates that left much to be desired.  That was when the usually jolly president showed an unnecessary drama and hostility. Every time the delegates, especially vocal Premier League of Eswatini Executive Member Charles Matsebula, asked a question, Simelane kept suggesting that the questions were as a result of lack of understanding of accounts. Yes, EFA does have workshops to assist members, but attending these sessions does not mean the delegates should be flawless in accounting. It was unnecessary to keep doubting their accounting skills after every submission. After all, they are not accountants but football administrators.


Frankly, there were elements of unnecessary autocracy at some point, but it would be unfair to conclude that it was the football head honcho’s leadership style. It was just a crazy moment.
It should be a learning curve for the president and it is high time he accepts that he will always be under scrutiny and criticism as part of the game.They say if you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. With that said, the president should be commended for addressing the issue that makes a mockery of our football. That is none other than the lack of a venue of hosting games for Sihlangu and the country’s Confederation of African Football (CAF) inter-club tournaments envoys. Simelane told delegates about a move to appeal the Somhlolo National Stadium ban in a bid to be allowed temporary access.


While Somhlolo belongs to government, the ban affects EFA the most, as they end up renting South Africa’s venues for both Sihlangu and the CAF tournaments representatives. With about three weeks before CAF Champions League-bound Royal Leopard and CAF Confederation representatives Mbabane Highlanders begin their continental journey, this means time is not on EFA’s side. If EFA delivers on this one, it will be a step in the right direction in a bid to win the trust of the masses. Meanwhile, the EFA meeting would not be complete without the discussion of Eswatini’s flagship football team in Sihlangu. Based on the presentation from the EFA, the general feeling was that the team had done well during the period under review. If they were referring to the period ending December 31, 2021, maybe we could say yes, following a bronze in last year’s Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA).

Other than that, we could find ourselves celebrating mediocrity. Here we are talking about a team that has recently lost out on a race to next year’s African Nations Championship (CHAN) Qualifiers. Eswatini recently bowed out of the CHAN qualifiers and stretched to 14 years an unwanted record of never winning a qualifier. With regard to the submissions by the delegates, mentioning some of them would be a sheer waste of ink. It was interesting to note that Shiselweni had called for the assistance of EFA, where possible, to get sponsorship for the leagues, especially their top division which produces a team that qualifies for the National First Division.


This is not a new challenge for the region. As a result, this calls for serious introspection. Sponsors want return on their investments. While there were sponsors back then, they started disappearing as years went by. It is not solely because of the tough economic situation, but the problem is deeper. For a start, the Shiselweni Regional Football Association (SRFA) should work on their communications department (assuming that they have one) to ensure that the sponsors get mileage. If there were ‘secrecy rankings’, SRFA can top the other regional football bodies. A robust communication and marketing strategy cannot only ensure that they win sponsors, but constantly update the media on their activities. That is the starting point. In this era of social media, they can always be in constant contact with stakeholders, especially the media. They should take a leaf from Hhohho.  The latter is proving to be the most visible regional body.

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