While Botswana has made great inroads in sports and its development; there is still a long way to go as far as development of women in sports and inclusion of people with disability is concerned.
The two groups, especially people living with disability have for a long time decried alienation in crafting of policies especially the disabled. Women have been included, though not to their satisfaction, thanks to the formulation of Women and Sport Botswana (WASBO) in 1994. The two, nonetheless, continue to lament about the same enigma they have grappled with since establishment of Botswana National Sports Council (now Commission) (BNSC) 51 years ago.
According to gender/human rights activist and Secretary General of the International Women Working Group (IWG), Game Mothibi, this country has made great progress but there is still a long way to go.
“Let’s acknowledge that there is something and we have made strides but I’m not happy because I know we can do more as a country,” she said before adding that, “the progress is not satisfactory considering the fact that up to now we have no policy that supports women and sports. We have no gender mainstreaming to be able to programme for both men and women. We are not holding enough conversations with sport leadership on how to support girls and women, we don’t have programmes in place to make sporting environment conducive for women and girls' participation in sport, we do not have programmes in place to retain women and girls in sport, we do not have plans in place for athletes to grow into technical officials or administrators,” Mothibi explained.
Some of the challenges females face in sports has been harassment and sexual abuse from their male counterparts. This has been worsened by the fact that women are lax when it comes to sport participation.
Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) CEO, Tuelo Serufho, also concurred with her about the marginalized group saying the participation of women in sports activities is worrisome.
“The current statistics for Botswana indicate 30% average participation of women in the 2014 major games and 40% women representation in administration courses delivered between 2013 and 2014.” Further adding that, “BNOC has set a target of 30% female representation at sport participation and leadership levels by 2016. However the current representation is unknown at sport participation level, with only 12.5% female representation in the BNOC board.”
BNOC is currently conducting research on women participation in sport, as a means to bridging the gaps and finding the missing pieces in the puzzle. The study was awarded P450, 000 from the Commission’s coffers and is due next year. An environment which is conducive and structures in place advocating for the marginalized group to participate as well as structures for the same group to report when harassed are some of the main needs for local sport if it is to transform and make the playing field level.
Another group which according to Mothibi is taken for granted is people living with disability, who despite less considered in the sports fraternity have so far proven their capabilities. She is of the view that if Botswana aspires to be a sport hub all the stakeholders should be engaged.
“For us inclusion talks with all the minority groups or marginalized, like people with disabilities and Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders (LGBT’s) is imperative. So support is lacking for all those groups and I must say it’s not in Botswana only but around the world.” Mothibi further added:” Our point of departure is that if someone is disabled and is a woman she will suffer double discrimination.” Recently there have been allegations of sabotage following the Paralympian, Keatlaretse Mabote’s performance at the Paralympics games and his coach, Raj Rathedi, argued that the athlete was ill prepared as compared to able athletes.
SPORTS EVOLUTION: 50 YEARS
Meanwhile with this country celebrating 50 years of independence, what are the impressions for sports administrators over the evolution of sport? For Keorapetse Setlhare, President of Private Tertiary Institutions Association (PTIA), Botswana has done a lot: “Introductions of many sport codes, qualifying for major events, participating in international events and winning medals at the Olympic and international competitions shows that we have done well.”
Besides hosting major events (international events) like Africa Youth Games and next year’s netball world cup, improved sports facilities in Francistown, Lobatse and the Introduction of the Minister of Youth and Sports and Culture are other developments that should make one celebrate independence from the sporting fraternity.
However other administrators who prefer anonymity argue that we are still many years behind. “We haven’t done much my man; it’s a case of taking two steps forward and three steps backwards. Personally I think we haven’t moved because we never invested in building a good structure and without a good structure we will never move beyond where we are,” a faceless administrator said.
The main factors that has made Botswana to be stagnant are poor governance, development and poor sports structures according to some and the medals won at international events were “just a bonus because we haven’t invested much on grassroots programmes.” Botswana celebrated her 50 years sovereignty yesterday where the national football team was playing against Angola.
With just three weeks left before the World Athletics Championships kicks off in London, the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) has set a modest target for its athletes, demanding a paltry two medals.
The members of the team that will be participating in the event are currently training. They are expected to leave on July 10. The Botswana team, which was composed of young athletes, was able to secure seven medals at the recently concluded Africa Senior Championships held in Mauritius. They were placed sixth out of 44 participating nations.
According to Oabona Theetso, the Vice President of the Botswana Athletics Association, the team’s goal is to secure two medals at the World Championships. On the other hand, the under-20 team’s goal is to bag at least four medals.
Nevertheless, Theetso said the team which is currently on training camp encompasses of Isaac Makwala, Nigel Amos, Anthony Pesela, Bayapo Ndori, Letsile Tebogo, Isaac Makwala, and Thalosang Tshireletso of High jump just to mention the few. Theetso noted that the training camp was not able to produce a female athlete due to the failure of the female athletes to secure a ticket to the event.
Theetso also noted that the BNOC gave the BAA about P500 000 to help fund the team’s preparations for the event. Besides the training camp, the organization additionally received the same funding for the Oregon World Champion team.
When asked about the presence of renowned athlete and 800m world record holder, Nijel Amos, at the training camp, Theetso revealed that he has never officially communicated his intention to become an independent athlete.
When further pressed about the outcome of the meeting between Amos and the Minister – Theetso said, “We are unaware that he ever meets with Rakgare. If they met without the presence of BAA official, it will be wrong and highly regrettable,” he said.
When contacted for a comment Tlhobo Tlhasana who is Public Relations Officer at Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture confirmed to this publication that Amos met with Minister Tumiso Rakgare a few weeks after the 2012 Olympic silver medalist made known his intention to go solo.
“The minister is at liberty to meet any sport personality from different codes in his capacity as the minister. He doesn’t need the permission from BAA or let alone BNSC to have a meeting with Amos,” he noted. Meanwhile in 2019, BAA sent a strong team of 13 athletes, with five focused on individual categories, while others were to form part of relay team.
During that time two out of five athletes who were to represent this country within individual events were relegated to spectators owing to injuries. But the injuries on the two athletes had left one question on the lips of many within the athletics fraternity.
The duo of Nigel Amos and Galefele Moroko, who were undoubtedly team Botswana poster kids, saw their dream of sailing through in the competitions halted as they were forced out of tournament owing to injuries. Botswana eventually came home empty handed after failing to secure podium finish.
Botswana Football League (BFL) Chairperson Nicholas Zackem who is also a Gaborone United financier and director says Township Rollers should instead of being a hard-nut be remorseful on the Onkarabile Ratanang marathon case.
In an interview with WeekendSport this week, Zackhem says he has always had a good relationship with his Township Rollers counterpart, Jagdish Shah. However things took a nasty turn early this year when it surfaced that their left back Onkarabile Ratanang was not registered accordingly.
Again, the Rollers home game against GU played in February which resulted in a near stampede left him agitated such that Rollers should learn a lesson. “So with all these I think they should be remorseful and stop being militant,” he said.
His contention is, “this is recurring and with only one team – Rollers. Remember what happened in 2014 when BDF X1 was leading the log and they were docked points which in turn allowed Rollers to win.” In 2016 there was Ofentse Nato (Rollers player) saga where he was also not duly registered and now we are here again with Ratanang. This should be corrected to better our football.”
The Ratanang case has been dragging for months now and has created unnecessary chaos in local football. Of late the football league awards ceremony had to be postponed with those in the know saying it is because of the matter. A statement from BFL however says the postponement is a result of logistical challenges.
The BFL boss says he does not care what should happen to Rollers, which is arguably the most followed football team in the land. “Even if the relevant structure could fine the P100k or relegate or even be docked points I don’t care but I want them to respect football. My worry is they should be disciplined because they committed a heartfelt mistake.”
Some football commentators say there is high possibility of Rollers be axed from the elite league because they are facing a misconduct charge which means they can only plea for a lighter sentence like points docking.
When asked about reports of some players from other teams not registered accordingly just like Ratanang, Zackhem said it will be up to the relevant structures to decide because as far as he is concerned, the Rollers case is the only one that has been reported at Botswana Football Association (BFA).
ZAC ON BRIBING REFEREES
The 2021/22 football season was exciting but here and there it was blotted by allegations which were pointed at Zackhem himself as the league Chair of buying referees. He has vehemently dismissed those reports and rumours saying the current GU arsenal does not need any favors.
“We invested heavily on this team and if you have invested surely you are poised to win everything on offer. Look at the players that I have do you think I would need referees to win matches? Most of the players have also been called to the national team and that alone proves their mettle. I don’t remember the last time GU was awarded a penalty this season, it has been a team work and those referee talk is baseless.”
“I am a dreamer and perseverance is my name because after writing my Cambridge examinations a few years ago, I grouped young footballers in Francistown and started a youthful unregistered football team with them.
It was a difficult thing to do because the players were students and parents were not letting some of them to play football as they believed it might negatively affect their studies and some of the big clubs in the elite league will come and take my players.”
This is how Seemo ‘Sixteen’ Mpatane, a coach and founder of Eleven Angels football club which gained promotion to the elite league last weekend describe himself and the journey thus far. Barely two weeks ago, Mochudi Center chiefs failed to pluck Angels’ wings when they hosted them at Riverplate grounds during the first leg of the Botswana Football league promotional playoffs but this past Saturday Angels soared to a 5 – 0 win over them to reach the promised land.
The win meant Lekgamu la Bananyana (youthful side) as they affectionately known will now make a debut appearance at the apex of local league football. For a match characterized by a long stoppage time following clashes between Angels and Chiefs supporters, it was Angels who showed more battle to convincingly beat Chiefs and attain promotion.
Nevertheless, Mpatane said, “I continued to coach my team even when I was still studying at Botswana Accountancy College (BAC) in Francistown and it was a difficult journey because I had some school projects to do and I will divert my monthly allowance to some of my players; to feed them, provide transportation for them and also to buy them soccer boots,” he stated.
In 2013, he says, he decided to register the team officially with Botswana Football Association (BFA) in order to protect the players from other teams and to make income out of the team. He further said Lekgamu La Bananyana started in Third Division league when they got position one and gained automatic promotion to Second Division league although it was only their first season to play there.
“We struggled at Second Division because I had inexperienced youthful players and had limited resources like transportation, soccer boots and most of our players were sitting for their examinations, but we managed to avoid relegation as we finished in position four,” he alluded.
In 2017/18 season, he said the team won the Second Division League and qualified for the Debswana First Division North playoffs. During the playoffs, the team represented Francistown region, against other three teams from other regions, to be precise Chobe United, Maun Terrors and White Diamond from Boteti region.
In addition, the young tactician managed to produce quality players like Norman Mabaya who plays for Orapa united, Doctor David and Fortunate Thulare of Jwaneng Galaxy and Molaodi Tlhalefang of Security Systems who went and made their caps at the senior national team.
“I achieved one of my dreams; that is to take my team to the elite league and I’m left with one that is coaching at national level and I think after getting my license I will be ready to lead under 17, 20, 23 and even the national team cause it just requires humility, love, perseverance and commitment, but right I can offer my services cause football is in the heart,” he said.
Mpatane revealed his intention is to see more of his players participating at national level and overseas, as this week Zebras interim coach Mogomotsi Mpote called the 18-year-old Monty Enosa to be part of Zebras team which will compete for COSAFA tournament that is set to kick off next month.