The recently elected Botswana Hockey Association (BHA) national executive committee has embarked on a revitalisation mission for the game of hockey in the country. Hockey used to be a promising sport in the Botswana with local teams representing the country at regional and international competitions every year. However, in recent years the game has died. The rebuilding mission started in 2015. Now the Unaswi Matebu-led committee, which was brought into office in February 2017, wants to increase awareness and the impact of hockey in Botswana. Matebu, who is BHA president, said the country has great potential in hockey only if the talent could be nurtured. It is for this reason that the association has taken a decision to increase awareness about the sport and try pulling more people to hockey. To attain this BHA has resorted to developing talent from a young age. The association has since embarked on school development programmes to develop players from a young age. Matebu said they are currently engaged with some schools and whenever finances allow them they buy the students some equipment to use for the game. However, like any other association, BHA is faced with a major challenge of lack of financial muscle which affects their plans. Matebu said that this is the greatest obstacle they have since they do not have a sponsor. She called on individuals and corporates to come on board and help them grow the game of hockey in the country. “There is a lot of potential and talent in the country. All we need to do is nurture this talent for good results in future and we need sponsors,” said Matebu.
Matebu said they are also pushing towards increasing the number of hockey clubs in Botswana. Currently hockey is mainly played in Gaborone with only three clubs in the capital city. There is also one club in Jwaneng and Maun. Matebu said for competition to grow more clubs need to be established as it will help identify talent from across the nation. She said they have already gone out to sell the game to the people and have gotten promising response. “Every where we have gone people have welcomed the game of hockey and are interested in it,” she said. Asked how they will be teaching the people the game since they have manpower shortage, Matebu said they are intending to use the former and current hockey players to help with this. She explained that the former players will teach those who join the clubs. She said the clubs will act as catchment for the young players who are coming out of the schools through the grassroots development. Matebu said Botswana has quality players that need to be nurtured to continue performing to their best ability. She said currently they are happy with the performance of the players but they need to be nurtured to perform better. Matebu urged sponsors to come on board to help them revitalise their game. “If we can nurture these players we will go far with hockey in Botswana. To do this we need adequate financial and morale support from everyone who can assist us,” she said. One of the local hockey clubs will soon leave the country to take part in the African Club Championships. Matebu hailed this as a sign that if developed well local clubs can grow in the game. However, the junior national teams will this year lose out in participating at the international events. This worries the BHA president, who said lack of finance is the cause. She pointed out that this denies young players the opportunity to grow in the game.