SELEBI-PHIKWE: The mining town’s economic challenges have seen the annual Softball Extravaganza sponsors drop from 16 to only seven this year. But this has not affected this year’s tournament as organisers inpartnership with SPEDU, prepare to host the tournament with improved prize monies as motivation.
The Softball Extravaganza coordinator, Daniel Mahupela said this year’s tournament was possible as the extravaganza has its own account hence the money that was left from last year has been used to fill the gap left by the departing sponsors.
Mahupela said with the demise of BCL Mine, a lot of companies have experienced serious economic challenges with their income hitting an all time low. He, however, said although a lot of sponsors were lost some like Komatsu, Bridgestone, Puma Energy, Investec, Stanbic and Boitekanelo remained.
“This year, we are running at a loss but through the prudence use of funds that we have, has enabled us to fill the gap. We hope to pull up more sponsors next year,” he told a press conference on Friday.
Mahupela said the tournament, started eight years ago, was meant to promote softball as a sport. He added that in the beginning they had a budget of only P50,000 but through successive support from other sponsors the figures shot up to P650,000. He noted that since it started things had been going uphill. Mahupela said the softball extravaganza is the biggest tournament in the SADC region.
Meanwhile, a member of the local organising committee, Oeme Morupisi said the Botswana Softball Association appreciates the Selebi-Phikwe Softball Extravaganza and sanctions the competition every year.
He said they do not have the participating teams that
PEDU director of strategic project, Jazenga Uezesa said one of the key areas they have identified as part of their strategy to diversify the local economy is sport tourism. He said BCL has been the main partner and now SPEDU has joined the partnership.
“We are going to successfully deliver the tournament despite the region’s financial challenges. We see sport as a critical component in tourism because its effect on economic revitalisation spin offs cuts across all sectors while its economic impact is immediate,” he said.
Uezesa said above all events sport tourism brings natural vibe. He said they are already in contact with other sport codes for possible partnerships.
“We have also partnered with Phikwe marathon organising committee as well as with other groups that want to venture into events tourism. By next year many companies would have setup here and will join in as sponsors,” he added.
He explained that SPEDU’s partnership is not in financial terms but technical support. “We do logistics together and provide cover support. We are not sponsors but partners,” he said.