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MY WORD ON SUNDAY: Commission welcome

SHARE   |   Sunday, 02 August 2015   |   By Mpho Dibeela

It is fitting to welcome that at long last the Botswana National Sports Commission has come alive. The conversion from a council to a commission climaxed this week when the new CEO of the organisation was named together with the Board chairperson. I take it to be worthy to have retained Solly Reikeletseng as the political face of the commission.

He is well versed in the challenges that his council faced to sufficiently create a soft landing for the new organisation while setting standard of performance and delivery for it. I particularly acclaim the unveiling of the veteran sports administrator Falcon Sedimo as the inaugural CEO of the commission. With his experience one trusts that the task at hand is something that he will easily dispense with. A greater part of his professional life has been in serving sport as an administrator. He also has the necessary qualifications to give credibility to his office. The Commission comes alive to address gaps and deficiencies that could not be closed under the previous dispensation. There were a lot of conflicts between sports bodies – the council and the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) – which amounted to power and egoistical games.

They contested for superiority. The commission brings this to an end; becoming the supreme body of sports under which all sports falls.  Sedimo having been the chief sports policy adviser/specialist to government following the dissolution of the Department of Sports and Recreation literally created the Commission – drafting it from bill stage and seeing to its final adoption by Parliament. He is not expected to waste a lot of time trying to understand its provisions. There is too much to do – from branding of new company to demonstrating that as a new entity it means business. Things will have to be done differently. I know the council had recently adopted its strategic vision. This will have to be urgently reviewed to upgrade it to the new challenges of a Commission.  Sport codes management and performance has always been a challenge.

Based on the fact that the country’s sport is essentially driven by volunteers it has remained amateur. It has not attracted the investment and resources sufficient to drive it as a business. Sports leaders spend their daytime at paying jobs and only use spare time to attend to sport work. This means slow delivery and constant disorganisation have dominated local sport. Sport codes still have no strategic plans and long term visions with which to drive their own development. Achievements are therefore by chance and purely based sporadic emergence of raw sport talent and not out of deliberate development systems that are visible and sustainable. Winning by chance should become a thing of the past. Sedimo must out-do himself to bring in a new culture where delivery is a priority; where grants to codes are conditional based grassroot development initiatives and plans. Without this emphasis, any hope that the codes will scale up development on their own having failed so far would be futile.

It is urgent to professionalise sport. Systems and infrastructure should be set in place for sport to be treated as business that employs full-time and delivers investor returns. Administrators should be developed and given necessary skills to manage their codes well. In fact the commission must set minimum qualifications standards that guide codes on the nature of people to elect to their executives. A situation where codes elect leaders on the basis of friendship and availability instead of ability has affected the growth of sport. This is not to overlook the inherent problem of lack of volunteers that want to play a role in leading sport organisations. Sedimo and his management team have much more than this to do. There is need for more facilities, more coaches, more referees and much more to list here. In particular he has to inspire confidence that he is the right person for the job; only results will show!