BNSC declines to sponsor men volleyball
Following the unexpected withdrawal of Mozambique’s volleyball men’s team from the upcoming All Africa Games, Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) will not sponsor the team which qualified for the games as the best runners-up.
Botswana failed to qualify for the much anticipated continental tournament as group winners after finishing second position behind Mozambique and above E-Swatini. However, lady luck struck the men’s volleyball team and immediately received invitation from the organisers of the games after group winners Mozambique pulled out at the eleventh hour without a valid reason. This sudden invitation seemingly caught BNSC by surprise. The sports body had set a target to sponsor only best performing teams at the games which are billed to start on Monday.
According to a source close to the developments, BNSC simply overlooked the men volleyball team as it never given proper attention from the beginning. “It baffles us as to why the sport body [BNSC] allowed the team to participate in the first place, and start talking in parables when it notched qualification,” a concerned source lamented. BNSC spokesperson Bobby Gaseitsewe emphasized that they only sponsors teams that finish first, but Botswana volleyball men finished second, as compared to their ladies counterparts who finished at the summit.
"We rely only on Gold medals; they did not qualify for sponsorship because they came second,” said Gaseitsewe. Commenting on the issue, Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) Vice President George Keotsene claimed that they only received information very late from the organisers because the team was already on a long break. Keontse alluded that they could have supported the team but it was beyond their reach at the time when they learnt about the sudden qualification.
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AFRICA’S RECOVERY: Sports as game changer
The year 2022 witnessed unprecedented phenomena. Several Africans- Gotytom Gebreslase, Sharon Lokedi, Victor Kiplangat, Tamarit Tola and many others- swept the World’s marathons records.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting control measures implemented in several countries, led to many high-level sports competitions being cancelled or shelved, the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games was moved to 2026.
Founder and Executive Chairman, African Sports and Creative Institute, Will Mabiakop, says the inability to hold traditional and amateur sports events have had a serious effect on public health overall, including mental health, sparking a revolution whereby athletes began to talk more openly about stress, mental overload and performance anxiety.
“Africa is home to the fastest growing economies before the crisis, no longer on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COVID-19 deepened interdependence between SDGs, making them harder to achieve, especially SDG 10 (reducing inequality) and SDG 5 (gender equality_ as the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on poorer countries, and heavier burdens (such as care work) fell to women.”
Mabiakop stresses that as policymakers contemplate actions to speed up recovery and build resilience, they must argue that sports and creative businesses should play a central feature in this effort.
“The sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africa’s sports and creative industries can offer policymakers innovative solutions. Especially, as regards job creation, and providing employment to the 15 million people entering the job market annually.”
HOW CAN THE INDUSTRY DO THIS?
By leveraging the two-for-one concept: past studies shown that a 1% growth in the economy delivers a 2% job increment in this sector (these ratios are calculated using data from 48 African countries and adjusted to the reality of the sports economy in Africa by the authors). There are between 30 and 50 job types, in sports and creative industries, respectively. These jobs do not fade away with the first major shock.
Mabiakop indicated that policymakers can use these industries to tackle multiple crises- jobs, poverty, and climate risks. Sports diplomacy- defined as communication, representation and negotiation in or through the prism of sports- has proven effective in building inclusive and cohesive societies. Moreover, sports and the creative industry can support better mental health and well-being, both important for productivity.
“Policymakers can also be true to the game by leveraging culture and tradition to celebrate identity and reap commercial value in sports, textiles and jewelry. Creative sectors allow deeper connection with culture, are not easily copied and provide great economic potential.”
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. “Fortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.”
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. “First avoid build it and they will come policies with infrastructures denuded from the rest of the ecosystem. Like the many sports stadiums left largely unused.”
“Policymakers must remain mindful of how these sectors move the needle in human capital development. Also, align the requisite public policies needed for progress from grassroots participation to professional sports, and even to international sporting events. They should also support investment instruments to render these sectors performant.”