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'Stop Turning A Blind Eye'

MQONDISI DUBE
Branch impressed at the Dakar Rally
Botswana’s first representative at the Dakar Rally, Vincent Crosbie has issued a passionate plea to government for support, after Ross Branch’s heroics at this year’s competition.

Branch finished the race as the best placed rookie and 12th overall in the motorcycle section. Crosbie put the country on the world map in 2017, riding across the line, waving Botswana’s blue, black and white flag as he met his target of finishing what is regarded as the world’s toughest off road race.

Despite the two putting the country on the world map, the feeling is that there has been little support from the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) or the government.

Crosbie, who is also Botswana Motor Sport (BMS) vice president, said there is need to support motor sport, which has proved that it can hold its own against the best in the world. “Our efforts show that we are growing. We hope the BNSC and the government will recognise us. We are representing the country and we have proved that we can do it on the biggest stage. People should stop turning a blind eye to motor sport.

Hopefully, something will be done,” Crosbie said yesterday.

He said it was not fair for the riders to keep knocking on the doors of the private sector, without corresponding government

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support.

However, he is hopeful that following their exploits at the Dakar Rally, the government or BNSC will come on board, and ensure that motor sport is given the necessary resources.

BNSC chairperson, Solly Reikeletseng, writing on his Facebook page on Friday, said it was unfair for people to accuse the sport body of “only coming in to celebrate”. “Well done Ross and motor sport. The assertion by some people that Botswana sport did nothing and (only) celebrate(s) at the end is misinformed and reckless. Government gives sport a subvention every year for the past 60 years and the private sector also pumps in P40million annually.

These resources are used for developing talent, building training infrastructure, developing coaches and administrators (and) setting up legislation to nurture talent.

Ross and many others are a result of all these initiatives,” Reikeletseng said.

Motor sport, particularly the Toyota 1000km Desert Race, has proved hugely popular locally, with more than 150,000 spectators, watching the winter event every year.

After Branch’s recent exploits in Dakar, the sport’s popularity is expected to soar.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi was amongst the first people to congratulate Branch on Thursday evening.



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