Athletes from the country’s various sporting codes underwent an extensive workshop on being well rounded elite sportsmen and women this past weekend. The training, which mainly targeted national team athletes, took place in Gaborone and was hosted by Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and Project Concern International (PCI) Botswana.
The Heroes Mentorship Programme was launched in 2015 by the Ministry of Youth Empowerment Sport and Culture Development. The Programme has already trained coaches from Centre of Sport Excellence and Hope World.
Officiating at the workshop, BNSC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Falcon Sedimo said the commission takes the training quite seriously because they realise that as athletes grow professionally they encounter a lot of challenges. “Athletes need basic personal financial management skills, people skills and to learn how to handle media as well as create sound personal brands. The capacity building workshop could have not come at a better time as we have more athletes competing internationally now more than ever before,” he said.
He said as athletes gain more international exposure, they are more likely to handle a lot of money and the media. “Lack of training in these areas could disrupt their lives and consequently negatively affect their ability to compete,” Sedimo said. According to the BNSC CEO, post training the participants will be expected to display exceptional life skills.
“From this workshop, you should have a strong yearning to save money and invest it wisely. The appearance fees and allowances that you get from time to time if managed well can acquire sound assets for you. An improvement on your personal lives will lead you to being better at what you do professionally,” he informed participating athletes.
He pleaded with the athletes to have enough foresight to inspire those who look up to them. “Athletes with quality lifestyles will make sports look attractive enough to lure more young people into the industry,” he said. He urged participants to refrain from habits like alcohol and drug abuse as these will bring their careers to a halt quicker than they can imagine.
“Whether you are on or off the field you should be able articulate yourselves properly to the media both locally and internationally. Use this training as an opportunity to equip yourselves with excellent communication skills. If you are not fluent in English, read more books as this will help you speak better over time,” he advised.
“Having said that though, if push comes to shove just speak in Setswana because there will always be somebody available to translate for you. It is also advisable to ask for the assistance of officials regarding interviews. I however still maintain that a well spoken athlete that can handle media by themselves is the best ambassador for our country,” he added. He said the athletes’ take home should be for them to know who they are, what they want and to be able to ask for it in a diplomatic way.
He cautioned them against losing resilience in the face of challenges, sighting sexual harassment as one thing that unfortunately often sets female athletes off to a point where they end up quitting sports. “Know that there are channels to follow through which you can seek recourse,” he said.