Fifteen Batswana individuals have qualified as International Umpires in the table tennis sport code.
This means they will be able not only to officiate in Botswana games but anywhere else in the world.
The President of Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA), Nathaniel Rakhudu, noted that this is history in the making of table tennis in Botswana.
“This is making of history and a key cornerstone in BTTA development,” Rakhudu said.
He explained that this is a first achievement for BTTA and that they have reached a level of recognition the world over. Officially handing over certificates and white badges to the deserving graduates, the Managing Director of Itekanele Health Scheme, Solly Reikeletseng, explained that the recognition shows that table tennis is rebuilding itself to take the centre stage in Botswana. He stated that he is a firm believer that skills development and training has always been the missing link in Botswana sport, but not lack of talent and therefore training of table tennis officials is a step in the right direction.
Reikeletseng further said it takes good planning, commitment, passion and a great team of officials who are learned to drive the process.
“As an association, you need to define your strategy and your model of execution to go forward,” he said.
Reikeletseng advised the graduates to ensure that they plough back what they have learned into the development of the sport.
“BTTA has invested a lot of resources in training you to be qualified officials who can compete at par with the rest of the world, therefore, the responsibility remains yours to use what you have learned for the growth of the sport,” he added.
Reikeletseng explained that history has taught him that initiatives to develop sport in Botswana are undertaken in good faith and the individuals selected disappear a few months later, and some individuals tend to become too big for the association and demand to be paid for the services needed.
“There is nothing wrong asking for money for services rendered but what is important is we have to build our association to be able to afford to pay us,” he said.
Reikeletseng further said the greatest motivation as sport volunteers is personal improvement in skills and character. Furthermore, he begged the graduates to prove over time that they deserved to be sent for the course, noting that their success will be judged by the extent to which they help their athletes improve their skills and become better people and not by victories or records.
He urged the table tennis association to get out of the gutters into the prime area.
“I am simply using the word gutter here meaning undesirable. Undesirable to sponsors, athletes and undesirable to the national development plans in Botswana. Making your sport desirable is doable,” he said.