Sport development, exacerbated by the suspension of school sport, remains a challenge in Botswana, according to a recent study conducted by University of Botswana academics.
Additionally, the situation is also getting stickier, as the main sponsor of Re Ba Bona Ha, Debswana Mining Company is yet to commit to supporting the youth development programme. Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) remains hopeful that the company will come on board in the near future. The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, Minister of Basic Education, Fidelis Molao, BNSC chairperson, Marumo Morule and his CEO, Tuelo Serufho are expected to set aside differences due to operations, to prioritise school sport.
There have been calls to capacitate the Botswana Integrated Sport Association (BISA) and Botswana Primary School Sport Association (BOPPSA) as their mandate is far wider. The two bodies do not have a full-time secretariats. University of Botswana lecturers, Dr Tshepang Tshube, Lobone Kasale and Dr Boga Manatsha have released a journal titled ‘A critical overview of sport development in Botswana’. The primary purpose of the journal is to provide a critical overview of athletic talent development programmes in the unique context of Botswana. “There is increasing research interest on effective approaches to talent development and ways to establish a superior environment that facilitates the growth of junior athletes into senior and elite levels. There has been little research and funding dedicated to talent development programmes in Botswana,” the paper reads.
The writers argue that despite the significant investment the government of Botswana has made towards the development of sport, national teams continue to perform poorly with only two Olympics medals from nine Olympic Games in 41 years. It was one medal until the recent bronze medal success in Tokyo earlier this month. “This poor performance is largely due to challenges that include lack of trained personnel, and a lack of research infrastructure. Additionally, low remuneration of national team athletes, lack of clarity on the conditions of service for teacher-coaches, ambiguous implementation of centres of excellence programmes and lack of a dual career policy all affect the athletic talent development programmes in Botswana,” the trio noted in their study.
The academics said considering the historical evolution of Botswana sport, and its influence on the current sport system, there is a need to mitigate against the challenges the country faces in talent development. “This can be achieved by promoting synergy of all stakeholders, improved funding and prioritising sport and establishing a national research infrastructure to help study ways to effectively implement sport in Botswana,” they suggested. BISA public relations officer, Letsweletse Jonas said school sport has been under the Ministry of Basic Education as the main sponsor, while coaches and administrators have been volunteers. “Now when MYSC takes the lead of competitive school sport, I guess some structures will be put in place. Having a secretariat for BISA and BOPSSA is long overdue. Other countries like Namibia are already doing that,” he said. Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) president, Tshepho Bathai said there is little that is being done on sports development. “This is mainly because of the investment that is needed to come up with and implement the development programmes.
There are also no incentives for development coaches, which is something that we need to seriously look into,” Bathai said. Reacting to the suspension of school sport, he said in karate, most of the clubs are in schools because of the infrastructure and the absence of school sport has affected them.
He said they are missing out on the brains and assistance they used to get from teachers. He added that teachers were serving in all structures of the association. “The solution is to come up with a sports development framework and force all associations to come up with development programmes, with the assistance of experts. Cost that development programme and look for funds. These programmes need to be adopted by the National Sport Associations general assemblies,” Bathai said.