Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC), an organisation mandated with sport development in Botswana, has dismissed allegations that failure by local athletes to dominate world events is a result of lack of proper planning and strategies for grassroots development. In this article BNSC clarifies issues relating to grassroots sports structures and development.
Grassroots Development structures
The notion that past and current athletes who have posted impressive results have done so by luck and not as a result of the existing grassroots structures cannot be further from the truth. Despite the limited funding and other challenges that we are all alive to, sport structures such as Botswana Primary Schools Sports Association, Botswana Integrated Sports Association and Botswana Tertiary Students Sports Associations have run programmes that have accelerated development programmes and as such accorded this country some of the best talents in the World. This is of course in addition to the National Sports Programmes such as Re Ba Bona Ha, Centres of Sport Excellence, Sports Development Fund, Zebra Athletes Fund and Elite Scholarship Fund which National Sport Associations have adopted and used to produce some of the high performing athletes.
Re Ba Bona Ha grows in leaps and bounds
The Re Ba Bona Ha programme as all BNSC programmes are guided by a policy. Furthermore, National Sport Associations deliver development programmes as per standards and models prescribed by the International Sports Bodies they are affiliated to. The BNSC and Sports Associations sign Memoranda of Understanding to provide guidelines for each party to support the achievements of the RBBH programme goals and targets. Apart from internal monitoring and evaluations conducted, external experts have also been engaged to evaluate the Re Ba Bona Ha programme and we use these to continuously make improvements to the programme.
The Re Ba Bona Ha Sports Development Programme was launched in 2000 with Football as the only sport in Gaborone has seen tremendous growth. The Programme has been introduced to Thirteen (13) National Sport Associations with a geographical spread to areas such as Gantsi, Tsabong, Kasane, Gumare, Phikwe, Maun, Mmopane, Kanye to mention a few. Our aim is to grow the programme to Twenty (20) National Sport Associations in the next two years. A number of outstanding athletes have at one point in their lives gone through the Re Ba Bona Ha programme and this include Muhammad Rajab Otukile, Tracy Chaba, Kabelo Dambe and Onkabetse Makgathai to name just a few. We are therefore very pleased with results from the Programme. Some coaches are fully employed under the Programme from Mmopane Judo centre.
Scholarships tied to sport performance [Elite Scholarship Fund]
As a matter of fact this has been happening since 1997 when the Elite Scholarship Fund was launched. The current athletics national team coach Justice Dipeba and Rampa Mosweu are some of the first beneficiaries of this arrangement. Over the years we have had a number of athletes gaining entrance to Universities through the same Programme. This list includes Diphetogo Selolwane, Gable Garenamotse, Kabelo Mmono, Thato Kgosimore,Peaceful Seleka, Shadrack Kapeko, Khumiso Ikgopoleng, Thabiso Maretlwaneng, Tapiwa Marobela and many others. Currently there are 22 beneficiaries of the Elite Scholarship Programme in various countries such as Australia, Botswana, Malaysia, United States of America and United Kingdom.
Mushrooming private academies
The ‘mushrooming’ of private academies is an indicator that sport in Botswana has developed to a professional level where it now creates commercial opportunities. In any case, sport development in any country involves a number of actors from Government to private enterprises. Worldwide, we have seen how much private sector such as High Performance Centres and sport academies have contributed immensely to sport development and world class performances of these countries. The academies therefore should not be seen in that negative light but a positive one especially by a sport expert. We are committed to supporting those individuals who continue to privately train our athletes as government cannot do it alone. This is the trend worldwide where there is professionalization and commercialisation of sport. We are grateful to Debswana for their continued sponsorship toward implementation of this noble initiative. The sponsorship has helped the Commission to grow the programme from strength to strength.