Wither Botswana sport: Focus on golf

Bogey: Golf has been a hit and miss PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Bogey: Golf has been a hit and miss PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE

Botswana sport has recorded considerable success with athletics, particularly outstanding on the international front. However, the jury is still out on most of the codes. In the first series, Mmegi Sport Staff Writer, CALISTUS KOLANTSHO zooms into the performance of golf, which has witnessed a rollercoaster ride in recent years 

At the turn of the century, Botswana sport was on an upward trajectory. There was a hive of activity in most of the National Sport Associations (NSAs).

The nation’s darling, the Zebras qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations finals for the first time, Amantle Montsho became a world champion and Nijel Amos won the country’s first Olympic medal; all achieved just two years apart.

There was a rise of new talent, with some football stars going on to play professional football in foreign leagues especially in South Africa. The famous Re A Ba Tsaya took the country by storm. New NSAs previously unknown in the country emerged.

All these gave the population high hopes of Botswana becoming a world-beater, which the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) incorporated in its 2012 strategy dubbed Vision 2028. Fast forward to 2021 and the mood in some codes is that of despair. While everyone passes the decline blame to COVID-19, the downward trend could be traced to much earlier than the pandemic. Lack of sponsorship has affected most sports operations.

Poor management and unending internal wranglings, especially at club and NSA levels have become the order of the day. In the end, self-interest took centre stage at the expense of sport development. Much needed support from the more organised BNSC and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) has not been of much assistance either.

Are these indications of Botswana sport falling into an abyss? In a series of articles, Mmegi Sport examines the state of sports affairs, starting with golf. My encounter with golf, which led to attachment and passion for the sport, dates back to my days in Selebi-Phikwe around 2008. The Phikwe Golf Club was a hive of activity on Wednesdays, Fridays and weekends. The pinnacle of the activities would be the Central Open in July. These events were a blessing to the caddies as it meant cash in the pocket for them. Yours truly did not know about golf and found it difficult to report on the sport. During that time, the development of young players was top notch with First National Bank pumping money into the project.

The project moulded some of the best players in the likes of Leroy Pearmain, Ouname Mhotsha and Shane Granger (Junior). My interaction with the then club members, Oganeditse Marata, Shane Granger (Senior), Enoch Mushango, Gabriel Tjitjo, Palalani Moithobogi, Farida Pearmain and legendary Peter Kazsay led to an arrangement for orientation.

Back then, the proactiveness of Botswana Golf Union (BGU) in implementing BNSC policies and the cascading of strategy was a fascinatio. The union was one of the complying NSAs. However, lack of appropriate facilities coupled with apathy, self-interest and sabotage led to divisions, which started eating into the credibility of golf. The centre managed to hold mostly owing to strong presidents and secretary-generals.

While BGU came with a plan which was seen as the blueprint for facilities development by BNSC owning to its sustainability focus, this because of a lot of infighting which even dragged in the then president Ian Khama, Thapelo Olopeng and Kago Ramokate.

The current BGU executive committee was elected into office in December 2019 and has drastically been reconstituted. The committee comprised Pius Molefe (president), Modiri Phuthego (vice president-administration), Godfrey Gorogodo (vice president-development), Bheke Mbakile (vice president-women), Tumelo Selikane (secretary-general), Simon Ramphethu (treasurer) and Neo Aobobe (communications). Additional members are Motswana Bathobakae, Dikgang Lemogang and Mushango as immediate past president. Now the committee has included Chae Soo Kim as vice president-administration while Saso Montshiwa handles communications. The position of immediate past president remains vacant.

Selikane was suspended and is yet to be charged, Aobobe was sidelined and subsequently resigned. Molefe resigned after 10 months in office. Following the resignation of Molefe, the vice president-administration Phuthego acts as president. His responsibilities were handed to vice president-women Mbakile. Kim has been co-opted to take over the role.

Former president, Mushango shares his views on golf’s state of affairs. He says he only attended two executive committee meetings as immediate past president.

Mushango says he was not informed on the status of the union. “I attended the meetings after an invitation from Molefe.

That is one area where the president differed with his deputies,” he says. Acting president Phuthego says they have never held any championships since he took over. He reveals that all BGU sponsors are gone. Phuthego says BGU leadership was not able to account as expected.

“We are trying to find a way of mending our relationships with them. It has also been difficult because we have never received a BNSC grant since 2019,” he said. Regarding the golf development programme, Phuthego says since coming into office nothing has been done. The Phuthego committee will be tasked with getting golf back on course and restoring the good old days.

Editor's Comment
Welcome to the new look The Monitor

This is a culmination of nine months of work by a dedicated team which comprised journalists, designers and marketers. The repositioning and redesign of The Monitor could not have come at a more appropriate time.The newspaper became of age last year when it turned 21 years old! It was first launched in February 2000 earning it the nick name “The Millennium Newspaper”. Twenty-two years later the media landscape, especially print, has changed...

Have a Story? Send Us a tip
arrow up