MY WORD ON SUNDAY: Is Solly attention seeker or right?

SHARE   |   Sunday, 08 February 2015   |   By Mpho Dibeela

The chairperson of the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC), Solly Reikeletseng, this week lost his usual cool and let emotions consume the better of him. He is peeved off. For all sports continues to give this country; little recognition in the form of investment (national budget) is something he cannot accept. He is seething. His efforts are not yielding the anticipated benefits and favour in terms of state investment in sports. Having been in the position for years and almost serving his last term, he understandably believes the budget should grow and not decline. To him nothing gives Botswana her name in the international arena than sports. For only the price of air travel ticket and registration fee, a Botswana athlete is capable of selling the country to millions of people across the globe. Amantle Montsho has ably done this many times. Nijel Amos has just inherited Montsho’s work. Put this against the budget required by Brand Botswana or related agencies. Astronomical fees are spent before an advert on Botswana can land on the top television networks of the world. They start coughing up from the mere conception stage of an advert. And it goes into millions of Pula. Sport essentially therefore offers the cheapest way of promoting this country. The Olympics 800m final is watched by millions across the globe. When Amos wins and goes up the podium for the singing of the country’s national anthem, there is nothing more rewarding and exciting for a patriot. Sport provides an automatic audience; the bigger the competition, the more the exposure. This explains why nations time their international marketing to peek moments in international games. Zimbabwe flighted its Victoria Falls advert in Super Sport television channels during the World Cup finals, running at half-time breaks. We have also and continue to advertise through Brand Botswana in international and global media, looking for the biggest possible reach to sell country – its investment opportunities and tourism appeal. As we do this, a greater attention should as the BNSC chief maintains continue to increase our investment in sport. In doing this, we shall be creating many ambassadors that will also in future sell the country without asking for a P1m payout. Such investment starts with the development of infrastructure and setting up of functioning and sustainable talent development systems. It therefore calls for consistent increase in the budget for sports. At this stage all codes are still to have working talent identification systems. The infrastructure is calling for more investment in new stadia and upkeep of existing ones. The human capital remains the most challenging of all. More coaches need to be development as are administrators. The part-time status of engagement in Botswana sport is not taking the country anywhere. Professionalism has never been urgent. It requires investment to create an enabling environment. Reikeletseng has declared that the anticipated allocation this year is not motivating enough; and appears to undermine the value of sport to the economy. One could easily dismiss him as an attention seeker who is jumping the gun before budget is fully discussed at the committee stage of parliament where amendments can be generated from the parliament floor. But amendments at committee stage of allocations to ministries are not common in this country. So pardon the fellow for crying too loud! For this country’s sport to grow, it requires bold step backed by substantial but well-thought out investment. Allocating BNSC the same amount as last year is tantamount to stagnating sport and as such ultimately sabotaging the country’s international exposure. As the cost of grooming talent grows, so is the cost of preparing teams for international competitions. We will be cutting down on international tournaments to play in and effectively reducing the exposure that Botswana brand would otherwise be assured of. Let us spend more and wisely in sport.                  

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