The Botswana senior men's National Football team, Zebras received the exciting news that they would get P650,000 if they qualified for the Africa Cup Of Nations last week.
Tumiso Rakgare, the honourable Minister for Youth, Sport and Culture Development revealed this. It is yet to be seen whether this is not another carrot the government is dangling.
Late last year, the Botswana Senior National Women’s Football team, The Mares, put up a brilliant performance at the COSAFA Women’s Championship in South Africa. They reached the final after beating Zambia in the semi-finals with a carrot that Rakgare dangled.
He pledged P250,000 to the women's side provided they win their semi-final match against Zambia, raising questions on whether authorities, particularly from the government have the will to see sports developing in the country. We once again challenge the minister and all other authorities to invest money in sports development and not only come to the party when glory is within reach.
This is despite the fact that they have over the years shown that they can reach greater heights, if only they had the right support system in place. We, as we did last year, challenge Rakgare to continue with such incentives. He should also have them in black and white for all other sporting codes as a way of motivating both men and women, and boys and girls to consider sport as a career that one may fully dedicate their time to and eke a living out of without working elsewhere to supplement income.
We cannot expect a team to perform well with such an offer at such a late stage. If it is a genuine offer, why doesn't government draw up a policy for such? And why should the money that was available to be given to players be taken back to the coffers when there are other needs in sport? Why not invest the same prize monies in the related sport or other codes?
At the moment, teams preparing for the Olympics are having a tough time gearing up due to budgetary constraints. How do we expect them to prepare for the Olympics? With so much uncertainty, will they will be able to travel to the host country? The minister launched a welcome effort between All Kasi, Botswana National Olympic Committee and Botswana National Sport Commission to sell T-Shirts in efforts to raise funds for various sporting codes. The minister just went there to launch and did not pledge anything! Is he waiting for them to arrive at the host country and dangle his carrot just before they compete?
It is now an open secret that football, which the minister usually plays on Sundays, is regarded to be a more important sport than other codes. We plead with the minister to step up for other sporting codes. Give them respect and reward them accordingly, develop them as well and not just wait to welcome them at the airport only after a job well done.
We have also seen in the past that corporates dangle incentives at our athletes. Surely, they have the resources to spare and they will certainly commit funds to our sports if authorities and administrators lead the way in investing ahead of the lot. Corporates want to be associated with stars, so if the government invests in creating stars, businesses will willingly come on board.