Botswana at 56: Sport comes of age

Earning their stripes: The Mares qualified for their first ever AFCON finals this year. PIC WAFCON
Earning their stripes: The Mares qualified for their first ever AFCON finals this year. PIC WAFCON

Botswana’s early years in sport can at best be described as forgettable. But that has been shifting in recent years with the present and the future looking bright.

Athletics has been headlining the surge as a country with a population of just above two million, takes its place among an elite group. Even long after Botswana’s Independence from Britain in 1966, the country’s soccer team was classified among the weakest teams and in the process, labelled the Whipping Boys of Africa.

In the COSAFA region, Botswana was mentioned in the same breath as Lesotho and Eswatini, with victories hard to come by. But that narrative has steadfastly changed since the turn of the millennium when the national team, the Zebras, began to turn up and compete. It was a refreshing departure from the energy-sapping 6-1 defeats, as Botswana began to go toe-to-toe with the region and ultimately, the continent’s giants. It will no doubt go down in history that the Jelusic Veselin era in the early 2000s heralded a paradigm shift as he assembled a brittle squad. By 2010, Botswana was competing for its first ever spot at the Africa Cup of Nations finals, which was duly delivered by a local coach, Stanley Tshosane. The Zebras made their first appearance at the AFCON finals in 2012 and subsequently reached the finals of the regional COSAFA Cup in 2016 and 2019.

Editor's Comment
Happy Independence Day!

Independence Day holds immense significance for Batswana as a whole. It offers a moment for reflection and celebration of the country's achievements, while also prompting introspection.We must honestly assess whether the number of years of independence aligns with the progress we have made. While there is certainly much to celebrate, there are also pressing issues that require the attention of relevant stakeholders. Many Batswana are facing...

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