BoBA, SANABO marriage in limbo
The gloves are now coming off between Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) and South African National Association of Boxing (SANABO). The local association has already thrown serious jabs, accusing their South African counterparts of using them in a bi-literal agreement that was to see both parties enjoying a symbiotic relationship.
The two parties entered into a partnership last year July amid pomp and fanfare from the boxing family. According to the proponents of the idea, the two nations were to engage each other in various aspects including sports development and women empowerment in the conventionally men oriented sport.However neither party has so far lived up to the vows they initially stood by at the Botswana National Sports Commission offices (BNSC) when they signed the agreement. The marriage has since then, been akin to love on the rocks as both Botswana and South Africa play a blame game which never helped in solidifying the agreement.
At the BoBA Ordinary General Meeting (OGM) last weekend, the boxing affiliates were told that the agreement whose inception was much celebrated has since been engulfed by a dark cloud. According to the BoBA Secretary General Irene Ntelamo, all is not well with the agreement.
“The bi-lateral agreement we penned down with some of our counterparts is not going according to plan, South Africa is using us, and we are not benefitting anything from them. They took Thato Patlakwe (President) to help them with his medical expertise and recently they took our Judge Victor Mhlanga to help them while they can’t return the favour, so we can’t sit down and fold our arms. We should also stop helping them too,” the maverick Ntelamo told the affiliates.
The local association continued to say that they have tried in vain to meet with their Southern neighbours to dialogue on the matter.
“We called a meeting with them sometime back, unfortunately they cancelled it,” added Ntelamo. As a sign of disgruntlement, boxing officials suspended Mhlanga for officiating outside the border without being permitted by his bosses. At the OGM, all who sat at the top table wore faces of disappointment and betrayal, especially notable were the faces of the President and SG who could not hide the displeasure brought about by the betrayal. BoBA had expected to benefit from their counterparts by having local pugilists taking advantage of the South African state of the art facilities for their preparations especially now for the second qualifiers of the impending Rio Olympics in August.
In an interview, on the side-lines of the meeting, the President however called for calm.
“We can’t say the agreement is dead. Let’s wait for the upcoming meeting with them because that’s when we will decide what is going to happen,” Patlakwe said.
Although the meeting dates are not yet finalised, it is expected to be before mid-year. Ever since the two countries penned the deal, South Africa has never featured in any event they were invited to, citing financial constraints as the sole reason. Meanwhile the national team is in Mozambique vying to defend their Zone IV title before going for an international training camp billed for Kazakhstan.
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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.”