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Player anxiety grows amid COVID-19 crisis

A study conducted by the global representative for professional footballers known as International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPRO) has revealed that Botswana footballers have developed anxiety and depression since drastic measures were taken to suspend all football activities.

Football is on lock down worldwide since COVID- 19 began to run rampant at the beginning of March this year. But while country is trying hard to defeat the disease, what seems like collateral damage on the part of players is rising behind closed doors.

Between March 22 and April 14, FIFPRO and affiliated national player associations surveyed 1,602 professional footballers in countries that had implemented drastic measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus such as mass home-confinement. 1,134 male players, with a mean age of 26, and 468 female players, with a mean age of 23, took part in the survey.

The percentage of players reporting symptoms was significantly higher among those worried about their future in the football industry, the survey found. In a separate survey of 307 players, with a similar mean age, in December and January – before most football competitions were suspended – 11 percent of the female players and six percent of the male players reported symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of depression.

Players were surveyed in Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, South Africa, Switzerland and the United States.

More than 75 percent of players surveyed reported that they had access to sufficient resources and support for their mental health. Most player associations in the 16 countries surveyed provide mental health support for players such as a helpline and access to trained counselors.

In Botswana, it has come to the fore that 48% of footballers have developed anxiety since the league was stopped mid-March. The study reports that this percentage alone has moderate-to-severe anxiety symptoms.

Moreover, the study reveals that during the COVID-19 period of (semi-)lockdown, 39% of the professional footballers in Botswana reported moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms.

According to the study, this is much higher than in professional footballers during regular period of time (i.e., not COVID-19 period): 7-11% reported moderate-to-severe anxiety symptoms. It is also higher than in the general population during regular period of time (i.e., not COVID-19 period): 3-8% reported moderate-to-severe anxiety symptoms.

While nearly all professional footballers in Botswana understand the current situation, a minority (39%) believes that club training, in small groups and under strict hygiene rules, should be resumed. The large majority (78%) want to finish the competition, if necessary in the month July.

Nearly all players in Botswana (89%) are concerned about their future as a professional footballer. The majority (59%) of the professional footballers in Botswana report that resources/support available (e.g., club, union) for their mental health are sufficient.

  • 48% develop anxiety symptoms
  • 78% want to finish the competition
  • 39% develop depression symptoms
  • 39% believes that club training, in small groups should be resumed.

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Orange injects P350 000 into Phikwe marathon

21st March 2023

Mobile network Orange Botswana is committed to supporting the development of local sport. Through its sponsorship, the company will be able to promote and market the sport. According to Maano Masisi, the company believes that sport can unite people from different backgrounds.

He stated that through the sponsorship of the marathon, the company will help promote healthy lifestyles and unity among the people of Selebi Phikwe.

The Selebi Phikwe Marathon is scheduled to take place on July 29, 2023. It is expected that it will attract international, regional, and social runners. A total of P216 000 has been allocated for the prize money for the first ten places in the 42.2 km race. For the 15km and 10km races, the LOC will give away prizes to the first five places.

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Big Guns for Botswana Grand Prix

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The National Stadium will be lit up with fireworks on April 29, 2023, as some of the best international athletes will participate in the maiden Botswana Grand prix.

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AFRICA’S RECOVERY: Sports as game changer

13th March 2023

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.”

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