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Who thinks they can Swim from New York to London?

Botswana-born Michael Ventre thinks he can! By day Michael, 38 is an IT engineer in London. However in his spare time he is in constant training for a colossal attempt to swim approximately 6,000 kilometers from New York to London!  In April 2017, he embarks on this phenomenal and world record feat that will take him between 5 – 8 months. At the same time, he needs your help to raise millions of Pula for charity.

Knowing Michael as I have, since Broadhurst Primary School, nothing he does amazes me anymore, except for this planned swim!  Even at Broadhurst he was picked out for greatness. No doubt he was by far the best swimmer in our age group among the so called ‘Big Three’ Gaborone-based primary schools of Broadhurst, Northside and Thornhill in the 1980s.  On the ‘Honours Roll,’ in Broadhurst, his name is inscribed as having earned the award for ‘Leadership.’

It was in this period at the age of ten, that Michael developed a strong passion for long-distance endurance swimming. He claims it began when he watched Thomas Gregory of England, becoming the youngest person to swim the English Channel (The body of water that separates England from France) on television. I have remained close friends with Michael since then and never doubted his burning desire to accomplish something fantastic within this sport.

So far his swimming resume goes like this: The English Channel (15 hours 18 minutes) and Molokai Channel (22 hours 30 minutes). You can see this swimmer has real endurance in his blood – he swam the Catalina channel in Los Angeles; Also Ice in his veins (He’s competed in the Winter Swimming World Championships in Latvia and Finland without a wetsuit). Added with courage to boot (Robben Island to Blouberg in 2 hours 33 minutes) and most definitely inspired by a charitable spirit.

Staying on the topic of Charity; for ‘The New York to London Swim’, Michael is working with Oxfam, a large British charity and is attempting this swim in his efforts to raise £5m (about P75 million) for this charity in a bid to ‘End extreme poverty by 2030.’

After Broadhurst Michael subsequently went to High School and University in South Africa and has said, “Whilst growing up in Southern Africa it was impossible not to notice the vast contrasts in social inequality between different communities.

It's not acceptable that millions of people suffer severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter and education. This is an opportunity for me to take a stand and to assist in the alleviation of extreme poverty by the year 2030. Oxfam and I need your help as this is a colossal task but I believe that we can overcome any challenge if we come together and play our part.”

This huge world-record attempt of swimming the Atlantic Ocean will be a gruelling open water challenge testing both mind and body as Michael navigates sharks, killer whales, jellyfish, shipping debris and unpredictable weather conditions such as Atlantic hurricanes.

Michael will be accompanied at all times by two support boats with all necessary satellite communications, navigational and safety systems installed. Aboard those support boats will be health professionals, a sports psychologist and others as he will swim for six to eight hours every day, with breaks for lunch, dinner and rest.

When not swimming in the Gulf Stream (A powerful Atlantic Ocean current) he should cover between 22 and 28 kilometers a day, but the Gulf Stream could push that distance up from 32 to 64 kilometers a day. He will sleep on the support boat and a GPS reading will be taken each evening when he leaves the water so he can start from the same position the next morning.

Michael will be wearing regular swimming trunks, a swim cap and goggles as well as a wetsuit depending on environmental conditions. He may also wear an MP3 player and have radio communication with the crew whilst in the water. To reduce the effects of ‘Salt mouth’ Michael may use a snorkel, and in the event that the currents become too strong he may use fins for extra speed and propulsion.

The key thing is that the event will not happen unless Michael gets help from the public and corporate sponsors to get him to the start line.   Therefore in part, this article is also an Appeal to all readers to help him in this astonishing bid to raise funds for his journey as well as to help Oxfam in its aim to end extreme poverty. Right now he has Two separate campaigns: 1: To raise funds to get him to the start line. 2: To then raise funds for Oxfam once the event is confirmed.  Please go to his website at http://www.newyorktolondonswim.com/michael/ To donate and keep up to date with his progress.

In the words of one Director of Oxfam, “Like the swim, ending poverty may seem impossible, but we can end this injustice. By working together, we can create a fairer, safer world where everyone has the chance to reach their full potential. I hope you will join me in supporting Michael as he takes on this mammoth challenge for the 1.2 billion people currently living in extreme poverty.”

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Sport

GU wins title after 13 years

23rd May 2022
GU

Gaborone United was this week crowned 2021/2022 Botswana Premier League (BPL) champions following their 1-0 win over the holders, Jwaneng Galaxy. Thero Setsile’s 13th minute’s goal was enough to seal the league championship, ending 13 years of drought from the Old Naledi outfit.

With two games to go before the top-flight season wraps up, Gaborone United opened a seven points gap to second placed Township Rollers having accumulated 63 points from twenty eight games. The Money machine were the first team to open a new chapter in the history books of Botswana football, when they were crowned the inaugural 2008/09 be Mobile Premiership champions, that came up with P1 million as prize money. Thereafter the club has been on the league drought as it could only manage winning Coca Cola FA Cup in 2012, Mascom top 8 twice in 2013 and 2015. They also won the Orange FA cup last season.

The return of Zackhem as the club financier signaled a new era with a number of galactic signings for the 2021/2022 season. The team brought into their fold big names in local football; Kekaetswe Moloi, Lesego Galenamotlhale and Joel Mogorosi. The arrival of enterprising left wing back Mothusi Johnson, dribbling wizard Mpho Kgaswane and hard tackling midfielder, Lebogang Ditsele made the job easier for the coaches.

Attacker Onkabetse Makgantai also joined the marauding attackers in Thatayaone Kgamanyane and Thero Setsile to make their front line combination the deadliest in the league. Both Kgamanyane and Setsile have netted 34 goals this season with the goal minder Goitseone Phoko keeping 20 clean sheets thus far while conceding just 10 goals. GU is still on the Orange FA Cup race and football commentators believe that they are the favorites looking at the quality of their squad.

As it stands should the Money Machine win all their remaining games, they stand a chance to equal the highest championship winning points record of 76 points which set by Mochudi Center chiefs during the 2007-2008 football season. That record stood for 14 years and Gaborone United could equal that feat should they win their remaining games against Sua Flamingos and struggling Notwane. The Money Machine made the bold statement begging of the 2021/2020 football season when they won 11 games straight games without even conceding a goal.

The Reds, who are under the guidance of Innocent Morapedi, a seasoned coach and his assistant Pontsho Moloi, has been consistent in the title race. In the process, the Old Naledi side has scored 59 goals while conceding the least goals (10 goals) and has a superior goal difference of 49 goals. Gaborone United success breaks Township Rollers and Mochudi Center Chiefs dominance as the only teams to have won the league title more than any other club in the last 13 seasons. GU’s proximity to money and talent were key this season.

Domestically since GU last won the league title, Mochudi Center Chiefs have won it three times; whilst the most decorated football club with 16 titles, Rollers has been dominating the league, winning five titles on the spin in five seasons from 2013-14 to 2018-19.  Last season, Jwaneng Galaxy was crowned champions for the very first time due to being at the top of the table when the novel coronavirus pandemic forced the season to be prematurely halted with ten games to play.

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Sport

Softball returns to play

23rd May 2022
Softball

After two years of no action across various sports codes including softball, Botswana Softball Association (BSA) is going back to the grounds to resuscitate the sport.

This weekend all roads lead to Selibe Phikwe for the top eight ladies championship. The eight ladies teams comprise the top four ladies teams from the south and north regions. They will then come together and form eight teams and battle it out this weekend at the Phikwe Softball Grounds and Area 2 Mowana Ball Park. The competing ladies teams are Titans, Police, Vikings, UB Giants, Rail giants, Scramblers, Carats and Ghetto Yankees. The champions will be crowned thereafter.

Softball Association Public relations officer, Boingotlo Marope explained that this tournament is not only for ladies, she said men’s championship will be held at Gaborone on the 28th May 2022.  She said they have noticed that everything is confined to Gaborone as their headquarters in the southern region. As a result they have decided to take other activities to the northern region as well. “We are trying to grow softball, we don’t want everything to surround Gaborone only which is why the ladies tournament will be held at Selebi Phikwe in the northern region to bring equality.”

However, she explained that the reason they were missing in action is because of Covid 19. “We saw government cautionary trying to protect everyone by putting certain restrictions as spots had to stop for 12 months, we welcomed 12 months to protect Batswana. As a results that lead to the closure as there were no games”.

In addition Marope said they currently don’t have sponsors however private sector has always come through. Bofinet has to cut the sponsorship but that is not due to Covid 19 crisis. “Bofinet has showed commitment, they promised that as soon as they are settled they will come to our door knocking again,” she added.

Marope further said as a results they rely on their tight budget. Few of players has been sponsored, some has to dig from their own pockets, some parents cannot sent their children as some had to quit. “We have worked with our tight budget to assist teams and hoping that in the coming season we can have somebody to assist”.

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Sport

Botswana ranked 4th in Zone 4 boxing tourney

4th May 2022
Boxing

The Botswana national boxing team recently returned from the zone 4 championship held in Mozambique. The team was led by head coach Thebe Setlalekgosi, two assistant coaches, Gibson Rauwe and Pearl Mooketsi. Two referees and judges, Gaseitsewe Ponatshego and Linda Mooketsi.

In the women’s category, Lethabo Modukanele was representing Botswana in the 48 kg division, while Phekie Bele and Sadie Kenosi were competing in the 57 kg and 60 kg categories, respectively. In the men’s category, Kobamelo Molatlhegi was representing the country in the 52 kg division, while Rajab Mahomed was competing in the under 51 kg category.George Molwantwa was competing for under 57 kg category and Treasure Moremi was competing for under 60kg category.

The boxers came home with seven medals, Modukanele came home with a gold medal, Kenosi, Rajab, Molatlhegi all came home with silver medals. While Moremi, Molwantwa and Phekie Bele all came home with bronze medals.

According to Moitshepi Nkabiti, the public relations officer of the Botswana Boxing Association, the team performed well and that they were hoping that Rajab would also bring home a gold medal. However, due to an eye injury, he could not participate in the finals.

He stated that, “though some people might think that how our team performed is not an achievement it is a big achievement to us. Other countries came with 19 boxers while we only came with our seven boxers, and they all came back with medals. That is something that we have to be proud of I really commend them for their performance. Having 5 players making it to the finals is really a blessing and we should not take it for granted.”

According to Nkabiti, Botswana was ranked fourth in the zone 4 championship, which was held in Mozambique. Other countries that participated in the tournament included South Africa, Zambia, Eswatini, and Seychelles. They all had a total of 19 boxers. Lesotho also had eight boxers.

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