Hockey’s Irene Jeremiah has joined The Association For International Sport for All (TAFISA) programme as the Botswana mentee for the ongoing project of Female Leaders of Tomorrow in Sport (FLOT).
Through the comprehensive mobility and mentoring programme, the mentees will be equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and guidance to lead the Global Sport for All Movement.
FLOT has been designed to strengthen the mentees’ employability and enhance their personal and professional development through non-formal education and time spent in foreign countries.
The mentees will be guided by their mentors who have been recruited based on their vast knowledge, experiences, and successes across the Global Sport for All Movement.
The 11 mentors, from seven countries in Africa and Europe, are all responsible for providing tailored mentorship to one African and a European mentee with who they have been matched to creating nine mentoring trios and one mentoring quad.
“I am currently doing the one on improving women participation in sport, paying attention to the challenges they face, those that make them quit the sport and how to overcome the challenges,” she said.
Jeremiah said she joined the programme after applying through the AUSC Region 5 office. She is also part of the WASBO leadership programme.
“The programme was supposed to be for 12 months but due to COVID-19, it started last month. I will be part of the organising team for the Region 5 Games scheduled for December in Lesotho. I would then attend the TAFISA Congress in Slovenia next year. I also have another trip to the UK to meet my mentor,” Jeremiah said.
Jeremiah’s awkward hockey journey began in 2013. Out of boredom, she decided to join a hockey club at the University of Botswana. Hockey presented a new environment for Jeremiah who used to play softball at Molapowabojang Junior Secondary School.
It was difficult for Jeremiah to play hockey as the majority of the players were from private schools while she was from a public school. She finally joined UB Oryx Hockey Club after being introduced to the sport by the likes of Thoriso Bogwasi, the chairperson at Oryx.
“It was difficult for me to join the team because I found one that was already intact. They had been playing together from a younger age and even in the national team. Even passing, they passed the ball to each other; to be selected into the starting line-up was tough,” she said.
But due to Jeremiah’s commitment, within a year of joining, she was named Oryx women’s captain. She said as a captain, it was now her responsibility to select the starting line-up. Jeremiah said her biggest achievement was when she made it to the national team in 2016.
“In 2019, we played at the hockey test series in South Africa and I was part of the first six. For the Africa Hockey Championships, I was in the first six. I play defence and I can be a goalkeeper,” she said.
Jeremiah was the hockey representative during the seventh International Working Group (IWG) World Conference on Women in Sport in Gaborone. The 28-year-old is a level one coach. She is working with Stepping Stones International in a programme called Coaching Boys Into Men: they coach youngsters in Bontleng. She said the players are uplifted and given life skills through hockey.
“Hockey is not well-known like football. When I walk around town with a hockey stick, people wonder what it is all about. Our sport is also struggling with sponsorship, so most of the time we play for passion.
I am a new mother so, parenting, going to work and hockey, it is a challenge. Sometimes it is difficult for me to juggle my schedule,” she said.
Jeremiah said juggling roles for women keeps them away from the sport, which is why she wants to make the FLOT project a success.
“Some players get married and some become parents. My project is focused on finding ways to manage all the challenges.
In the team that went to South Africa in 2019 and last year, only three are still active. I want to find answers as to why we are unable to retain these girls and young women,” Jeremiah said.
Date of birth:
May 15, 1993
Place of birth:
Defence and goaltender
International Caps: Seven