After serving netball with distinction, as both player and administrator, Tebogo Lebotse Sebogo’s road has reached its end, as she bows out as Africa Netball (AN) president.
Lebotse Sebego has served as local netball president, and captained the national team during her playing days.
“I have been involved in netball for the past 35 years. I have been a player and I held different positions in netball as a player. I have captained both the Under-21 and the senior national team. In 2006, I went into administration and in 2007, I became the president of Botswana Netball Association (BONA) until 2017,” Lebotse Sebego said this week.
She was elected the president of AN in 2010. She said her final involvement in the sport would be the Africa Cup, which will be held in Cape Town later this month. At the end of the tournament, she will hand over the AN presidency, and surrender her International Netball Federation (INF) director position.
“It has been a great nine years and I am happy with the stage that I am leaving netball at. I was the first AN president,” she said.
“The association was formed in 2010 and prior to that there was a regional body called Confederation of Africa Netball Association (CANA). The INF had passed a motion of no confidence against CANA because it was unable to organise Africa. The INF felt that they could not work with such an organisation.”
Lebotse Sebego said teams were competing internationally but not as Africa. She said after being elected president in 2010, it was not something that she was not too keen about as she had just been elected BONA president, three years earlier.
“It was three years into my position and I was struggling at that point in terms of administration. I did not have experience in sports administration because I had never been through different ropes. I jumped straight to the presidency from being a player. The first term,
which was 2007 up to 2009, was a hard time for me trying to learn the ropes and understand the dynamics and politics of sport,” she explained.
Lebotse Sebego said she came into office with a player’s mentality that you perform and get selected into the team.
“When I went to South Africa for the Africa Netball meeting, I had just been given a fresh four-year mandate by BONA. I was not keen to take more responsibilities, but the people showed confidence in me. I got the post, which also gave me an opportunity to sit in the INF board,” she said.
The ever-energetic sport administrator said to start a new federation was not easy, starting from zero, to get the members to re-affiliate and to draw the constitution. The year 2010 was for the INF because they had to host 2011 World Cup qualifiers. Botswana qualified for that World Cup, which was an exciting period.
Lebotse Sebego said it had been a marvel to watch African nations progress over the years.
“In 2007, countries that represented Africa at the World Cup were Botswana, Malawi and South Africa, all from Zone VI. They were there because this region has always been organised. In 2010, when we hosted the qualifiers, it was the same countries that qualified. But you could give them the benefit of the doubt because Tanzania was also there. They went through proper qualification,” she said.
Lebotse Sebego said as Africa grew, Botswana was struggling to keep up with the competition.
“It was not nice for me as BONA president. Africa has always produced a new country at the World Cup, this year it was Zimbabwe. Together with Uganda, they qualified and finished in the top eight,” she said.
She said it is an indication that there is growth.
Lebotse Sebego said growth has not only been on the playing field but on the hosting as well.
“Africa has hosted the Under-21 World Cup, which was a first on the continent. The continent is also hosting the 2023 World Cup in Cape Town. For me it is a great time to step down. What else can I do?” she asked.
She said it was time for somebody else to take Africa to the next level, especially on the
aspects of commercialising the game. She said the continent must have professional leagues.
Meanwhile, Lebotse Sebego said she is not lost to sport.
“I love sport and it would always be part of me. I still have a Basadi Bomme Trust, which is meant to create opportunities for young women athletes to make it on the international stage, not only in netball but also across board.
There are many great women athletes in this country but there is no structure that can guide them,” Lebotse Sebego said.
She said Basadi Bomme should be a haven for talented women. Lebotse Sebego added that it is difficult to be an athlete and there is need to have something to cushion them.
“In other countries they go on and on even after having babies. Look at Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. She won a gold medal in 100m in Doha, just
13 months after the birth of her son. Our athletes never come back. It is due to a lot of factors like our culture, support and the family structure. Ngwana o sala le mang! We need to find a way to support them to reach their full potential,” she said.