The elections have come and gone. Some have won, and some have lost. Before the elections I bemoaned that although Sport is quite big in Botswana and can go a long way in creating employment, being a source of income, promoting healthy living and even alleviating poverty, not much was said by the candidates on Sport in their campaign trail. It was a by the way issue for them, or they just ignored it at all. Well, as a sport enthusiast I tended to differ.
Last week, President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama named his cabinet. It is an interesting Cabinet, and we should support the Ministers. I however fancied Shoshong Legislator Phillip Makgamelemele for the position of Youth, Sport and Culture. Maybe it was because of his past dealings with Youth and Sport. For some reason he was my favourite for the position. That is neither here nor there, and Khama saw it fit to appoint Thapelo Olopeng to the position.
I don’t know much about Olopeng but I’m confident and trust that he will excel. As a youthful sport enthusiast who is in touch with his culture and heritage; I expect a lot from one who heads this Ministry. This is a wide Ministry that has three in one and could be quite challenging. I’m however confident that it can be handled, as evidenced by the former Minister in Shaw Kgathi. He did quite well at the Ministry and I fancy Olopeng to continue where Kgathi left off. Not all was achieved, and it was not all smooth sailing but on the whole he did well.
Sometimes when someone comes in against all odds they work even harder to prove the doubters that they are capable and can make a difference. Olopeng is a known friend to the President and his appointment will put him in the spotlight. He will have to show that he is capable and not only got the position because of his friendship with the President. That being said; the Ministry has its challenges that have been well documented before. The youth are forever complaining about this and that: at times justifiably so. As for sports, more can still be done and I hope that some of the good things we have always talked about will be implemented under Olopeng’s tenure as Minister.
One of the first stops for Olopeng is to establish a rapport with the Botswana National
The issue of teachers’ participation in sports at Schools needs urgent attention, as that is where development starts. The issue of national team players welfare needs attention. It was once revealed that Premier League team players will get an allowance of some sort and that has since died away. Maybe it is because of the economic recession that we had, but the time is now to resuscitate that idea. The issue of sport infrastructure also needs urgent attention.
The issue of sport academies needs attention. Government has done well to establish some schools as Centres of Excellence but the major undoing has been shortage of equipment and trained coaches at the schools. On the whole, there is a general lack of development structures across most sporting codes, and the excuse is in most cases, lack of facilities. Mr Olopeng can endear himself to sport lovers by calling for some infrastructure in certain parts of the country that currently have nothing.
On a rather sad and sombre note, Botswana football has lost one of its most charismatic characters. You would never miss him at any Township Rollers and National team match clad in his sometimes ridiculous attire. Samuel Rakgowa, fondly known as ‘Sam’ was an entertainer and an easy going chap who always kept revellers entertained off the field. He was a free spirit and always jovial. He will be missed.
As we welcome Olepeng into our fold, we sadly bid farewell to one of our own in Sam.