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Olopeng salutes Mascom

It is once again my pleasure to address you at this occasion of the Mascom Top 8 Season 7 Awards.

Bagaetsho; I want to prefix my remarks, by thanking His Excellency the President of the Republic of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, for entrusting me with this responsibility. I am glad I have been assigned back to this Ministry to complete the journey we started together. Let the journey continue!

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen; Tonight, we are recognising and celebrating achievements from the Mascom Top 8 Season 7 tournament. Several teams locked horns at the beginning of this season, but only one team emerged as the winner of the Season 7, to claim the P1,3 million prize money. This team is none other than Township Rollers, who are enjoying their second victory since the start of this tournament.

Let me take this moment to congratulate Township Rollers on this victory. I also wish to congratulate them for qualifying for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League Group stages. Township Rollers is the first team ever in Botswana to qualify to the CAF Group Stages. I want to encourage Batswana to rally behind the team in this tournament.

Bagaetsho; I also wish to commend the Mascom CEO, Mr Jose Couceiro, and his team for their immense contribution to the development of sports. The amount of time and money they invest in sports development cannot go unnoticed.

Ladies and Gentlemen; When I took over as Minister responsible for Sport in 2014, I continued to encourage the private sector to invest in sport. Some companies heeded my call and supported sport, but among these companies, was Mascom, which has made a significant contribution to sport. This is evident through the Mascom sponsored sporting activities such as Athletics, Horse racing, Netball, Car racing, Chess and Karate.

This kind of support has in part, motivated our athletes to outdo themselves in various international competitions. For example, these are exciting times in the history of athletics. So far, the untouchable Isaac Makwala and Amantle Montsho bagged Gold medals

in their respective 400m race at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia. Baboloki Thebe finished with a silver medal, while Christin Botlogetswe finished position 4 at the finals. We are very proud of these athletes, and I want to assure you that continued investment in sport, will one day amaze us. This investment is not for our own benefit, but for the generations yet unborn The 25 Million Pula that Mascom invested in the Mascom Top 8 tournaments alone is a massive investment. This is even greater motivation for me not to tire in encouraging the private sector to invest in Sport.

Bagaetsho; I am glad to announce that Government will continue to do all it can to develop sport. In this financial year, my Ministry will build Community Sport fields to enable our athletes to use state of the art facilities to develop their talent. These community sport fields will be built in 10 constituencies, to the tune of P50 million.  We are committed to the development of sport because sport unites people, and it is a sustainable source of employment. I always say in the next century, we will still see 22 people on the pitch playing football, and not machines or robots that have since taken over our jobs. I therefore challenge young people to take sport seriously.  Director of Ceremonies; Let me end my remarks by congratulating all the Mascom Top 8 teams, coaches, officials, supporters and administrators and all the nominees. You showed great resilience and sportsmen like attitude. You all deserve a pet on your backs.

To all those who will not be awarded, your journey of excellence has just begun. Next time, we will be celebrating your achievements.

I wish you all a very enjoyable evening. God bless you!

*Thapelo Olopeng is the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development. He was speaking at the Mascom Top 8 Awards

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