In August, ministries of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYSC) and Basic Education (MoBE) set up a Joint Task Team (JTT) that would recommend a suitable way of running and managing school sport. One of the recommendations expected is to merge BISA and BOPSSA, Staff Writer, CALISTUS KOLANTSHO writes
It would not be the first time such a recommendation has been made because a few years ago, sport administrators had suggested the establishment of Botswana School Sport Association (BSSA).
BSSA was to ensure that when an athlete excels at primary school, secondary schools would know about it and ensure that they are placed accordingly.
Expectations are that the merger proposal would be included in the JTT recommendations. The proposal was that the position of the manager would be remunerated and clearly stated in the constitution on how members could be represented in different levels or even appoint two positions to be elected for just like at Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC). The board could be appointed or elected for.
However, it does not mean the single body would be a solution to the challenges facing school sport. There is need to properly finance school sport and each ministry should know its responsibilities and finance them.
The mandate of MoBE is academic excellence while MYSC is for sporting excellence, therefore there is need to strike a balance; get coaches contracts including those who are teachers and non-teachers.
MYSC permanent secretary, Kago Ramokate told Mmegi Sport they were still waiting for a report from the JTT. He said it would inform their decisions on the way forward.
Meanwhile, BOTESSA president, Keorapetse Setlhare said merging school sport associations is one of the issues that cropped up during a recent meeting with BNSC leadership.
“We need one association. Take for instance, BOTESSA and Botswana Brigades Sports Association (BOBSA). We have been engaging them to say why can’t we have one umbrella body that could run tertiary sport, rather than have BOBSA who only have three events in a year and they are done. They are also not exposing their athletes to major events. But we still compete for funding from BNSC,” he said.
Setlhare said there should be an umbrella body to cover Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA) and Botswana Primary Schools Sports Association (BOPSSA) like in other countries.
He pointed out that the challenge that is facing sport is that leaders care about their individual interests and forgetting about those of athletes. He said if there was restructuring most of the leaders would lose their positions.
“We need to come up with a model, which would work best for athletes and give them more opportunities. As administrators, we should forget about our positions. There is a
Setlhare said there was need to broaden the scope for terms of reference of a Joint Task Team so that they only deal with issues affecting BISA and BOPSSA. “When the JTT deals with issues affecting school sport, they should include issues affecting BOTESSA. They should extend the scope of work to us,” Setlhare said.
“We lose a lot of talent when they fail at school. Maybe it is high time the government awarded them scholarships. Then their study period is extended.”
He added when an ordinary student takes three years to complete a degree programme, an athlete should be given more years because they are always busy with competitions.
He said the scope of work should be extended to tertiary institutions to avoid having another task team in the future.
BOBSA president, Joseph Mtika told Mmegi Sport that the issue of merging sport associations has been discussed off record in the past.
He said it has emerged that the merger would be happening between BISA and BOPSSA.
“When that happens BOBSA and BOTESSA should follow suit. The challenge might be that we are under different ministries, as BOBSA we are under Ministry of Employment, Labour, Productivity and Skills Development while BOTESSA is somewhere else,” Mtika said.
When asked about the power struggles, Mtika said the process should be about athletes not individuals. He said the JTT should not have overlooked tertiary school sport.
For his part, BOPSSA president, Busani Segweni said they have benchmarked from other Southern Africa countries and one body is running school sport.
“If it is working for them, then it can work for us. Look, we are under one ministry, if I submit a request, then (BISA) president, Joshua Gaotlhobogwe comes in and does the same, it is straining. So we should have one association and funds go to the same pot,” he said.
Segweni said even if that were agreed, it would not happen overnight. He said people should not be worried about positions. He added that he was ready to forfeit his position if need arises.
Meanwhile, Ramokate said tertiary sport was not included under the JTT terms of reference because they operate differently compared to school sport.
“We would see if there is need to look into it in future,” Ramokate added.