The new Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tshekedi Khama will meet the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) to review the sponsorship policy, with the aim of assisting individual athletes.
The BNSC has over the years availed funds for national teams but individuals have found it difficult to secure funding.
This comes in light of motor sport’s recent participation at the Dakar Rally, with Vincent Crosbie representing the country in 2017, while Ross Branch is fresh from taking part in this year’s competition. Individuals are forced to dig deep into their pockets to represent their country at these competitions.
Speaking to Mmegi Sport this week, Khama questioned the sport governing body’s sponsorship policy.
“I have always said that we should not look to sponsor teams only, we also have to look at individual brilliance, with Branch and (Vincent) Crosbie in 2017 and some of our sprinters as well. I have always said that sponsorships should not look at teams only but individuals as well.
“Why should Batswana athletes who show individual brilliance be denied sponsorship? Is it because they are not in a team? Ross is a good example that individuals should also be considered.
“I want to make an undertaking that I will severely examine the protocols of the sports commission as to how the sponsorships are done; it has to be more widespread,” Khama said after welcoming Dakar hero, Branch at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport on Tuesday.
He further said he was meeting the board on Thursday (yesterday) to review the policy with a view to accommodate individual athletes.
“On Thursday, I am meeting the sports commission board and one of the things I want to know is the criteria used to allocate the money. I want to find out if an individual athlete comes forward seeking sponsorship, are they catered for? Do we allow that? Because from what I see is that we mainly look at our traditional sports; football, netball and others,” he said.
“From our Thursday meeting, we will be probably more than likely redefine the opportunities individual athletes have. I am a big supporter of individual participation because if you look at Ross he has been riding across the world at his own cost, but he is a Motswana so we should encourage him to do more so he can inspire others. If there isn’t a team around him, are we going to lose that opportunity? We are not looking at motor sport only but any other (sporting) discipline.”
For his part the Botswana Motor Sport (BMS) vice president, Crosbie said they are to meet Khama over a proposal of both individual and team sponsorships. He said over the years, riders had to rely on the private sector as the government has turned a blind eye.
“It’s always great to have local sponsorship. In 2017 and now, Ross and I had a lot of sponsors, without them we would have not been able to do it.
“The private sector has been amazing and we are only thankful. We are thinking of meeting the new minister and come with a proposal and maybe we will send a team to the Dakar next year.
We are still thinking about it,” he said.
Many local sports stars have in the past years had progress hindered by lack of funds, as the BNSC policy does not sponsor individuals. Karate sensation, Ofentse Bakwadi has been struggling to raise funds as he seeks a 2020 Olympic Games berth.
The Karateka has since started his own fund raising campaign. Rising chess star, Naledi Marape’s parents, who are her main financiers, recently bemoaned high costs of funding her trips ahead of the Africa Youth Chess Championships. The Woman Fide Master went on to scoop a bronze medal at the Uganda held games in December.