Cricket is arguably one of the fastest growing sports in the country. Though relatively new, the sport’s governing body Botswana Cricket Association (BCA) has accelerated the drive to take it to the people. As a result of the recognisable effort, BCA has continued to shine at the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) sport awards. The BCA was awarded the Chairperson’s Special Award in recognition of their grass root development drive in cricket in 2013. In 2014 the association scooped the Sport Code of the Year honours and retained it the following year. Once more they have been crowned the 2016 Sport Code of the Year, making it the third consecutive time. Adding flavour to that, the association’s Secretary Ahmed Fazal Sheriff has also won the Non-Citizen award.
An all smiles BCA CEO Girish Ramakrishna dismissed all suggestions of luck in remaining the top code for three running years, insisting it is the outcome of the hard work they put in. According to Ramakrishna, there is no short cut to success as people have to plan and execute their plan well. Ramakrishna said the main thing distinguishing them from other sporting codes is that they have a fulltime CEO responsible for day-to-day running of the association. “With a fulltime person as opposed to a volunteer, the association is able to run smoothly as the person dedicate all his time to the running of affairs at BCA,” said Ramakrishna. To him this also should not only be a person who has the love for sport but must have the right expertise. He believes that the success of BCA is not by mistake has he has the expertise. This is proven by his portfolio as the man’s capabilities have been recognised across the sporting fraternity locally and internationally.
Ramakrishna has recently been appointed to sit in the Audit & Risk Committee of the Africa Cricket Association. He is also part of the Botswana National Olympic Committee audit committee and the Head of Finance for the 2017 Youth World Netball Cup local organising committee. As BCA Chief Executive Officer, Ramakrishna is charged with both the administration and development aspects of the association. He is of a view that administration is the key element for the association to run smoothly. Locally, most of the sporting codes seem to be lacking behind in this aspect of administration. In most cases there are reports of infightings and poor governance that destabilise the codes. According to Ramakrishna all these can be dealt with if there is transparency and timely accountability. “These are the key elements that we at BCA are keeping at heart to make sure that we perform well,” he said. He said all proper procedural controls to do things are in place at BCA and are strictly adhered to.
For example the CEO people are given 48 hours to account for every Thebe given to them for any of the association’s business. “Where money is involved there is always a problem. As a result record keeping is very crucial to avoid any troubles,” explained Ramakrishna. A chartered accountant by profession, he said at BCA accountability is crucial – they report to the board every month on the activities and financials of the association. Ramakrishna said the association also strives to empower all the stakeholders for smooth running at all times. “For the association to function well both the administration and the development programmes must go side by side and people need to be empowered to be able to take the association’s activities forward.” From time to time they train people through the Cricket Administration Programme. Through this programme, teachers and volunteers are taught aspects of governance and finance which are crucial in the effective running of the association. The CEO believes that it is this kind of empowerment, adherence to controls, transparency and accountability that makes the BCA stand out from other sporting codes. He called on other codes to move on appointing fulltime personnel to change the traditional way of doing things through volunteerism.
Cry out for sponsors
Despite the continued recognition for the good work they do, BCA is not without challenges. The cricket community is hit by lack of financial support in terms of sponsors. Ramakrishna said this is the main problem that stands in the way of developing cricket locally. He called on private companies to lend them a hand in this endeavour of taking cricket to the people. “Right now we are in need of vehicles to go around as we take the game to the people. We also want to upgrade our facilities to provide better and adequate structures for the players,” explained the CEO. He said they have been given pieces of land by different schools to construct pitches but they do not have the capital to do so. Lack of parental support has also been identified as a problem towards developing the sport locally. Ramakrishna said without the support of parents it becomes difficult for BCA to reach its mandate of developing players from grassroots level. BCA has upped its drive of reaching young players and have started U-13 leagues to build for the future. “Parents must come to the games and encourage their children to do well in this game. It is a family game and an alternative sport that Batswana should embrace,” said Ramakrishna.
Regardless of the challenges, BCA has plans to forge ahead with its mandate of developing cricket in Botswana. The 2015 development strategic plan is in place to further close the gap between the grass root and the national teams. Currently all developmental structures are in place and functional hence the good work the association continues to display.