Local sport stars will be celebrated and recognized at a flashy awards ceremony during the 51st Independence celebration, with President Lt. general Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama who will hand out the awards.
For the past 51 years Botswana has registered a significant growth in sports. From being tagged the weeping boys of Africa in the 70-90’s in Football to qualifying for the 2012 AFCON finals; to also making its presence felt in athletics, despite perennial underachievement at the World stages. Boxing and Karate have always represented thiscountry with dignity. Not only that, Botswana has also proven her mettle and capability in hosting a variety of successful events notably the Africa Junior Championships, Africa Youth Games, Netball World Youth Cup and the World Baseball Softball Congress. The International Women Group summit and the 2018 AUSC games are some of the notable events that show the country’s stridesto becoming a sports hub.
This year, four sports names have been marked to get the rare opportunity of being awarded by the president in the annual ceremony. This is a motivation to volunteers who work tirelessly to hoist this nation’s flag. National athletics team coach Mogomotsi Otsetswe will receive the Presidential Order of Meritorious Service. Otsetswe has served Botswana athletics, as an athlete and later as a coach who can be credited for moulding the likes of Karabo Sibanda and Baboloki Thebe.
Mogogi Gabonamong who represented Botswana at the historic 2012 AFCON finals is another name that will get the Presidential Certificate of Honour. Mogogi, popularly known as ‘Manchester’ after trialling with the English team retired from active football at the end of last season after winning a league with Township Rollers. In his over nine years in South Africa (2006-2015) he made 212 starts and 25 substitute appearances, a record for a Motswana in the PSL. He has also won domestic cups many times with Mogoditshane Fighters and Rollers.
31 year old quarter miler Isaac Makwala, despite failing to redeem his career with a medal at the just ended IAAF World Championships will also be bestowed with a certificate of honour. For a long time Makwala has represented this nation with pride. His time -43.72 is currently the second best in the 400m category. This year he became the first man in history to run a 200m within 20 seconds and a 400m within 44 seconds on the same day by running 43.92 in the 400, then 19.77 (+0.0) in the 200m, 2 hours and 20 minutes later at the Meeting de Atletismo Madrid. He has run at five World Championships and three Olympics.
Botswana Netball Federation (BONA) President Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego completes the quartet. A former netball player herself, in 2007 she became the President of BONA. Lebotse-Sebego was further elected President of Netball Africa. During her administration Botswana competed at two World Cups and registered the highest rankingof 16 in the world. It is during her tenure that this country hosted the first ever Netball World Youth Cup in Africa this year.
Athletics is one of the sporting activities that for many years has been consistently performing extremely well in international competitions. One of the reasons is the availability of qualified and experienced coaches, who have been working tirelessly on the ground to ensure that they scout talent and develop more athletes.
For the first time after eons, football clubs plying their trade in the elite league are walking in the shadow of the undefined with nothing concrete agreed and on sight before the commencement of the football season.