Nato returns to GU – on loan
Ofentse Nato has completed a return move to Gaborone United on a six month loan deal, having been sweet-talked by Gaborone United influential minds into ignoring less intriguing offers from elsewhere.
The Botswana international had a deal on the table from low ranked teams in Spain but he has been unable to ignore the pull of United, the club where he made his name.
He had a successful season with Indian side, Athletico de Kolkata, a satellite team of Athletico Madrid of Spain. Nato was unbelievably signed by the Spanish side and loaned to India where he won the league with Athletico de Kolkata.
GU has reshuffled their midfield options over a period of time, bringing back their prodigal son, Nteseng Simanyana after he registered an unsuccessful season with Polokwane City of South Africa.
They also signed Abednico Powell immediately after the arrival of Rahman Gumbo.
GU management complained at times last season at the lack of productivity from their midfielders but they hope that Powell and Nato, aided perhaps by Simanyana who remains on the books, can fire an upturn.
Nato will no longer be a first-choice selection but Gumbo hopes that his personality and experience will serve to inspire the rest of the dressing room, most notably the younger players.
GU has always sought to have leaders in their squad, players who have won big games and can bolster the collective belief. Their signing of Powell last season was rooted, in part, by what he could bring away from the field of play.
Nato has joined while still contracted to Madrid, and he has signed to play, not to inspire, as he once declared he is quitting international football. The club says that there is no option built into the deal for him to join them after his deal lapses with Madrid. They are mindful of the fact that they lost their skipper, Noah Maposa to rivals Township Rollers when they least expected it. Maposa was sold to Garankuwa United in South Africa, but against their expectations, he came back quickly in process snubbing them. GU, however, has since challenged the move.
Club secretary general Herbert Letsebe confirmed that Nato has joined them for the rest of the season and is expected to bring stability in the team once his international transfer certificate is done with.
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AFRICAâ€™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 Worldâ€™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.
â€śAfrica 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.â€ť
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.
â€śThe sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africaâ€™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.â€ť
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.
â€śPolicymakers 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.â€ť
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. â€śFortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.â€ť
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. â€śFirst 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.â€ť
â€śPolicymakers 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.â€ť