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BY PATIENCE LEPHOGOLE
Constituency league games or the affectionately known ‘dibolo tsa ga Ian’ continue to gain more recognition and players.
The tournaments run thrice a yea. Volleyball has over the years suffered a situation where league and national players opted for constituency games than their organised league games.
The national league was at some point tottering on the brink of collapse following the exodus of players who were jumping ship to join the constituency league. The Constituency league which runs parallel to the national league offers better financial benefits.
Botswana government will not budge an inch over the controversial constituency league as the tournament has, since inception, borne fruits for the country. The brainchild of former President Ian Khama, it has attracted a sizeable number of the youth to participate in it, insinuating that it is of great benefit to them.
With the scarce sourcing of sponsorships for the league, for instance in the netball code, players may opt to keep fit and get some financial benefits from constituency without the national league or regular tournaments to keep them busy throughout the year. It should also be minded that clubs depend on tournaments to keep players active, hence why others indulge in constituency games.
However, to other individuals who have not made it to any national league teams or athletes passionate for sports not called for camp, constituency tournaments are their go to on weekends. The games were initiated to develop and nurture skills and spur youths from wayward behaviour such as drinking alcohol and other social ills.
For the unemployed youth in villages, this is their source of living, greener pastures and it comes with consistency of the government sponsored league. In a way, it is hailed as sporting activities that keep the young people meaningfully engaged. Throughout the tournaments one would witness talented players competing in the constituency league. The passion and determination in the players cannot go unnoticed.
For Mochudi, Boseja South netball team dubbed Flying Eagles; these games are a way of escaping from the world, enjoying something that one loves wholeheartedly. The team’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) Monica Tanke added that these games are a source of recreation. She said “I love netball so much; my team mates enjoy playing it as well. For us it is not only for the financial needs, but for the satisfaction of the heart.”
“The games are categorised into four stages, which is ward, constituency, regional and national finals. We have gone to the nationals once; several times we have attended regional games. As for ward and constituency it is a walk over,” Tanke added.
She further highlighted that over the weekend they played constituency and emerged number one. “We are awaiting a date and venue for the regional competitions. There is a lot of money involved in these games hence they need a team which is not only into finances, but knows how to manage them as well,” she added.
“As a team we have a committee that makes decisions in the interest of the team, we normally share money in our account so that we keep the team inspired as well as so that they can afford to buy toiletries for themselves or their family, in ward competitions, first position gets P3 300, for constituency level first position gets P5 500, and normally we get such money,” Tanke noted.
Nonetheless, Tanke said she is aware of teams that fought over funds, those that have indulged in alcohol practices or a team losing its players due to arguments. She said “At our team we try to support each other at all times, hence we have never had a situation where the team fell apart due to funds.
Ramotlabaki football based team dubbed RUPS said football is their passion. The team’s captain Elvis Moje said through winnings in the constituency tournaments they have achieved a lot. He said “We have bought a full kit for ourselves, first aid kit as well as a ball. During games we take money from the account and buy food for the players.”
“The team plays relatively well, we try to train often especially when the circle for the tournaments is ahead. This is a way of socialising and making friends with homeboys,” he revealed. He further added that they have fans.
On the other hand, Moje further noted that they have several challenges. He said “One of the challenges that we have is transport. Games are normally scheduled in Mochudi and surrounding areas, which means for us we need transport to and from Ramotlabaki. At times we have to camp in schools, so when it is winter like over the weekend, the cold gets the better of us.”
“In conclusion we do what we love and enjoy, that surpasses all,” he noted.