Gaborutwe: Bowling's gentle giant rests

A gentle smile: Gaborutwe has been described as a gentle, loving family man PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
A gentle smile: Gaborutwe has been described as a gentle, loving family man PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE

When news broke out that John Vincent Gaborutwe had passed on, his family, friends and the bowling fraternity were lost for words.

The man, who was commonly known by the acronym ‘JVG’ and came to leave an indelible mark in bowling, was born in Mahalapye in 1967. 

He lost his battle against COVID-19 on Friday at Sir Ketumile Masire hospital.

Gaborutwe has been described as a humble man who did not want shortcuts in life. Last year, he took over as Botswana Bowling Association (BBA) president.  Decorated bowler and former national team player, Lebo Mascarenhas is shattered and struggles to describe how she feels about the passing of Gaborutwe. 

“He was a son to me and I saw him blossoming as a father, husband, player and administrator. My late husband, Ray recruited him to play bowls and the two of them were compatible,” she says.

“When it came to pairs, they were unstoppable. They won every tournament including nationals. I guess they are now playing pairs in heaven.”

Mascarenhas adds Gaborutwe was the backbone of Phikwe Bowling Club and the BBA. She says JVG was the best record keeper in the association and that has never happened before.

“He enjoyed recruiting people to play bowls, an empire and was always equipped. He did not like shortcuts. Together with his wife, Binkie, they were great team managers as well as competitive players. I cannot imagine how Binkie is feeling right now,” she says.  His former roommate and national team player, Kabo Gaboutloeloe reveals he met Gaborutwe in 2010.

“By then I was playing for fun, fortunately I was picked into the national team.

That is when I started interacting with him. He was my manager during our trips to many countries. Most of the times, he was my roommate and he was a funny guy,” he says.

Gaboutloeloe says during tournaments, whenever there was a break, JVG would go and sit at a table with ‘noisy’ players because he enjoyed their company.

However, Gaboutloeloe explains Gaborutwe was firm when it came to administrative issues.  

BBA vice president, Regent Reid says they were like brothers especially that they were both from Mahalapye. He says the deceased was open to discussing issues.

Speaking during Gaborutwe’s memorial service, family representative, Philly Mokubung says Gaborutwe was a straightforward person.

“He was a ballroom dancer which was a strange thing to the family. We were surprised one day to see him wearing ballroom attire with wide sleeves and bright colours. We also did not think he could propose to a woman because he was shy. He always had that shy smile all his life it was like he had fear,” explains Mokubung.

Mokubung reveals that when Gaborutwe grew up, his name was Stompi and got his other one, John, at church.

She says the deceased liked church a lot.  “He was devoted to church and he even went for pastor training. If he was after money like other people he could have opened his own church,” she says.

Mokubung describes Gaborutwe as a neat person hence he chose to play bowls. She says the deceased was humble and respected everyone. She adds he was always close to his wife.

“Gaborutwe has left a huge vaccum in our lives and I do not think it would be filled by anyone,” Mokubung says.

Gaborutwe will be buried in Gaborone today. He was a decorated player having played at the highest level.

Some of the tournaments he played include the Atlantic championships, Cardif, Wales (2019), Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast (2018), World singles indoor world Cup (2017), World championships, Adelaide, Australia (2012) and Commonwealth Games, Delhi, India (2010).

African States Tournaments caps: Kenya (2019), South Africa and won bronze medal in trips discipline (2017), Namibia (2013), South Africa (2012) and Peter Richards invitation pairs (2018 and 2007).

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