Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) unveiled the second batch of the Botswana Sport Hall of Fame inductees on Thursday. These are soccer great Matshidiso Kowa, boxer France Mabiletsa, Softball administrator Andrew Mokoto, veteran soccer administrator Ray Molomo and the late Olebile Masire, a former patron of the Special Olympics.
This brings to 13 the total number of the inductees following the induction of eight people during the 1st induction in 2014. The inductees are honoured for their undying contribution to the development of sport in the country. Some have passed on and others are still carrying on the development of sport in Botswana. Unlike the previous batch in which some in the sporting fraternity had raised eyebrows, the five inductees have been largely welcomed as deserving to be chosen. The objective of Botswana Hall of Fame is to recognise those who have made a significant contribution to sport and inspire the future generations. The other idea is to preserve the heritage of sport in Botswana as well as keep record of the successes the country has achieved.
The five inductees are seen as the pillars of sport in this nation. Kowa, for example, is celebrated for his tireless effort of developing young talent in football. From 1970 when he formed Mochudi Centre Chiefs, he has been at the helm of football development. Since becoming a coach at the age of 21, Kowa has produced Botswana’s top players in the likes of Mogakolodi Ngele, Sekhana Koko, Vincent Phiri, Bakang Moeng and Veron Ngele. According to him, he does this all out of passion at it is the only thing that keeps him going. The former Botswana Football Association (BFA) vice president technical has also received the Presidential Honour for Meritorious service in sport in recognition of his contributions to sport development in Botswana.
The other inductee France Mabiletsa is largely known for his boxing prowess in the ring and as a talent developer. Mabiletsa is the first Motswana to bring home medals from both the All Africa Games and the Commonwealth games respectively. After retiring he formed the UB Tsholofelo Boxing club to transfer his skills to the young upcoming boxers. He became a coach at the club and produced good boxers in the likes of Lechedzani Luza, Oteng Oteng, Khumiso Ikgopoleng, Lesley Sekotswe, Gilbert Khunwane and Healer Modiradilo. “During my time I always wanted to be the best in what I did and when I retired I wanted to produce good boxers who would achieve what I failed to attain as a boxer,” said Mabiletsa.
The two other inductees Molomo and Mokoto thanked BNSC and Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture for recognising those who helped in sport development. They, however, feel that recognition should also be extended to those who did so before Botswana’s independence. “We have contributed to sport during our time but there were others before us, they too need to be given this recognition,” said Molomo. He said even though he is listed as the first BFA president there the likes of Kgosi Bathoen before him.
Molomo has been instrumental in the running of football as an administrator from 1969 until he left in 1973. Mokoto, on the other hand, had a productive development of softball in Botswana. He was one of the people who formed the first softball club in Botswana - the Vikings – in 1972. He went to become the president of Botswana Softball Association (BSA) and was instrumental in construction of the National softball diamond stadium. His effortless deeds saw him scooping the BNSC’s sports administrator of the year award two times.
When receiving the honour for his late wife Olebile Masire, Sir Ketumile Masire congratulated BNSC for their initiative to recognise past and current contributors of sport, saying it will give upcoming administrators and athletes a reason to perform to their best. Olebile Masire was honoured for her commitment to sport since 1989 when she became the patron of Special Olympics.
Still at Hall of Fame induction BNSC recognised the support of two sponsors whose continued support has helped take Botswana’s sport forward. Debswana Diamond Company and Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) were the first companies to receive the honour. BNSC chairman Solly Reikeletseng said there are many companies that contributed to the development of sport but these two stood out. He said they have been supporting sport for years and they never got tired even to this date, hence the honour.