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HRFA TEAMS’ E190 000 AFFILIATION FEES CONCERN

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MBABANE – ‘I still know what you did last summer’ is one scary movie title but appears relevant to the Hhohho Regional Football Association (HRFA) on this day.

It’s the association’s much-anticipated Elective Assembly today in Pigg’s Peak, at Mhlatane High School and among the items on the agenda, teams are expected to raise is the E190 000 share from the E300 000 COVID-19 Relief Fund grant by the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) in 2020. Regional football was suspended at the time so most regional associations disbursed the money to their members. However, HRFA informed their 316 clubs, through a memorandum, that they would be sharing E190 000. This meant that each team was to get E600 and the clubs have not forgotten about it two years later. They are expected to affiliate again for the upcoming 2022/23 season. Surprisingly for the teams, the same memo stated that member clubs will not be given the money to spend but the HRFA was going to keep it to cater for their affiliation fees in the 2020/21 season as amateur football was expected to resume.

Shocked

However, in the 2021/22 season, regional football was still suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was noise about it as teams reacted against the decision, but nothing changed except that they were shocked when they were required to pay same affiliation last season from their pockets. “We do not understand why they are channelling our money to affiliation fees for next season yet the relief fund is for the current season. It does not make sense at all,” said one of the team members back in 2020, when interviewed by our sister publication, the Times of Eswatini.

Ahead of today’s Elective Assembly, some teams were questioned about the affiliation fees and said they could only confirm paying from their own pockets to play in the previous season.
They acknowledged the COVID-19 grant of E190 000, which was kept by the HRFA’s outgoing executive led by Nigel Shongwe. At the time, the money was disbursed to all affiliates of the EFA, Shongwe had explained that they reached the decision because the money had to reflect in their audited financial statement. “Due to requirements of financial audit on utilisation of COVID-19 Relief Fund from all beneficiaries, the HRFA executive decided to pay affiliation fees for the 2020/21 football season,” Shongwe had responded back then when teams reacted angrily to the decision.

Distributed

Meanwhile, an impeccable source said some of the money was used to purchase balls, which were distributed to all the affiliates and also revealed that money was used to buy tracksuits for some of the HRFA executive. Reached for comment, some of the teams revealed that the HRFA told them that they would use the money for affiliation, but were never given receipt to confirm that and they paid the affiliation fee. “If the executive paid our affiliation fee they would have issued receipt to us as teams, but they never did that. The Lubombo FA called all the teams and gave them the relief fund money, why didn’t the HRFA do the same,” the representative said. Another team representative disclosed that some of the money was given to the Competitions Committee (CC), but wondered why because it was meant for the teams not individuals. He also said they had never stopped paying the affiliation fee. Reached again yesterday, he could not give an immediate comment on the matter as his cellphone rang unanswered.

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