BISA wants control over centres of sports excellence
It has been a decade since centres of sports excellence were introduced in the country, but Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA) is unhappy with their progress thus far.
It is in that back foot the association leadership is expected to traverse a robust route in convincing government (Botswana National Sports Commission) and the Ministry of Basic Education to give it (BISA) more powers in the affairs of the centres.
The administration which was ushered in last weekend is still headed by Joshua Gaotlhobogwe and is resolute in rectifying some of their failures in their past term.
Centres of sports excellence were introduced in 2007 as a government initiative to fasten developmental agenda. However, teachers across the country are of the view that since establishment-the centres have yet to development has yet to be seen. While the issue has always been of great concern over the past terms, Gaotlhobogwe concedes that it has always been a thorny issue, and they never engaged their principals over the matter. “To be honest we never engaged them about it but it’s a thorny issue, however the time is now to dialogue about it,” he said.
BISA, according to the president wants direct say in these centres as they are the custodians of school sports. As part of the plan to wield more powers they will engage relevant authorities if the idea is to serve the intended purpose. “Athletes are taken to those centres but they become ordinary athletes. Some went back to their home villages after noticing there is nothing scientific about the centres,” he said.
In some instances, it appears the centres kill the developmental initiative it is supposed to fast track. “Centres take all the good athletes, for example Good Hope Senior, it will get all the best runners but then at the finals they are given only two slots. This automatically means the best two from that school will progress all the way while others are disadvantaged, so it’s better if we can at least spread them across the country so at least at the finals we witness the best of the best,” said Gaothobogwe who retained the president seat by garnering 117 votes against Eagile Molelo (92) and Montlenyane Radihephi 30.
There are five Centres of Excellence being; Mogoditshane Senior (Football), Good Hope Senior (Athletics, Softball), Masunga Senior (Softball), Mater Spei College (Volleyball), Radisele JSS (Football, Volleyball). Radisele which is a centre for football and volleyball for both girls and boys has one pitch, ‘court’ and one coach in each discipline. Others have the same and in worst case scenarios the coaches are not upskilled anyhow. Should the leadership succeed in their plan to control the centres, schools of excellence will be what the doctor has ordered for development of Botswana sport.
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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.”