Imagine waking up to empty stadiums, deserted training fields and yawning boxing rings. Weekends would never be the same. And critically, the economy would suffer. Sport has ceased to be just a weekend pastime for lazy bones.
It has evolved into a gigantic multimillion pula industry which is a critical source of employment. Up to now sport has elevated the status of such luminaries like Nijel Amos, Mogakolodi Ngele and others to international stardom.
The country derives a lot of benefits from the game and therefore, its growth is key. However, the administration of sport is shared with two other departments; culture and youth. Inevitably, the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, Thapelo Olopeng has to spread his duties among the three departments. We believe sport deserves more than a shared ministry; it deserves undivided attention. Sport, is a massive catalyst for job creation, particularly among the youth.
At a time when additional ministries are being created to ease burden or to share load, the ministry should be considered.Focused attention on sport yields positive results in view of the need to create jobs, as it becomes more competitive.
We are of the view that a separate ministry would re-energise a section reeling from underfunding and the resultant desolation. Government contributes around a paltry P70million annually towards the Sports Commission for distribution to nearly 40 affiliates.
This means that on average, the affiliates have to share around P2million each, a pittance if really, sport should develop and blossom. Olopeng has proved to be a capable and energetic minister, but he will always have his plate full by conducting three choirs simulteneously. Sport as it is widely acknowledged, has ceased to be a pastime and this should be reflected at national level.
The pace at which local sports has matured should encourage its leaders to advocate for a larger slice of the cake. Botswana, despite a relatively small population and limited resources, has already produced a world champion and an Olympic medallist. The Zebras qualified for a major continental tournament, the Africa Cup of Nations. All these achievements should be loud enough to trigger a paradigm shift and a clarion call shouted from the hill tops of Tsodilo saying: “We have what it takes. We can do more!”