Saturday, December 3, 2022

Badminton appears set for revival

It is said that when a snake sheds its skin, it is no funny business and it gets cranky. Shedding not only renews the snake but failure to do such can be disastrous, even to the extent of making it blind.

When the Botswana Badminton Association (BBA) hosts its constitutional review workshop at the National Stadium Conference Center this coming Saturday, it is sure to be a painful but necessary process.

For the past decade, Badminton, once a darling of Botswana’s sports has fallen into doldrums. While the sport is very active at junior level, there is a gap between junior and national team as clubs are inactive.

The sport is also bedevilled by internal wrangles and a glaring lack of facilities. It has failed to even qualify for the Delhi Commonwealth Games as they could not meet the criteria set by the Botswana National Olympic Committee.

While the association tried to hide the problems in an earlier interview with Telegraph Sport, a subsequent speech by its president, Tjiyapo Mokhosoa, revealed badminton has problems.

“Botswana Badminton Association has had its fair share of challenges, over the past decade…internal wrangles and bickering have achieved nothing but loss of potential administrators and officials that together could see the sport grow in popularity and appeal,” Mokhosoa said during her speech on Sunday.

Taking a cue from the success of the Gaborone Badminton Club Veterans Tournament, the BBA President announced the plan to review the association’s constitution and its strategic plan as a way of forging a way forward for the sport. She admitted that under the current circumstances where the fraternity has even lost sponsors, people would think twice if approached to be part of the BBA.

Interviews with some of the past players and officials also revealed that the problems within the association were affecting the sport negatively. Former national team player, Mmoloki Motlhala, who has been abroad for some time, said he did not expect to see badminton still lagging behind. Motlhala, who was the first local badminton player to take part at the Commonwealth Games, acknowledged that the sport’s growth has been stagnant for the past years.

This view was also shared by Shrikant Sohoni, one of the founding fathers of badminton in Botswana.
Sohoni decried lack of cooperation and internal politics as the reasons for the non growth of the sport in the country.

Even if they make it through their internal wrangling and constitutional review, the sport will still face a lot of challenges, the biggest of which is lack of indoor facilities. This lack of infrastructure has put the development of the sport on hold as they cannot follow their calendar of events nor host events as they wish.

This is seen by sports insiders as the main reason for the sport’s lacklustre performance in the senior categories, more especially in the international arena and at club level.

Insiders, among them the BBA president, acknowledged that clubs in the country are as good as dead and the sport is losing young players once they complete their secondary education.

However, going into their weekend constitution review workshop, the badminton fraternity will be buoyed by the promise of the Deputy Gaborone Mayor, Haskins Nkayigwa, to support them in their quest to have access to facilities.

While Tsholofelo Community Hall has always been the home of badminton, the badminton fraternity feels that they cannot schedule most of their events in it as they have to share it with the community.


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