The annual Barloworld Equipment Botswana Softball Challenge celebrates its 10th anniversary this coming Independence Day holidays.
The three day tournament, now recognized as a not-to-miss event in the Botswana Softball Association (BSA)’s calendar, pits eight of the local softball giants against each other.
It was officially launched this week by the General Manager of Barloworld Equipment Botswana, Ian Duthie.
The tournament has been sponsored to the tune of P100 000.
Speaking at the launch, Duthie said despite the economic meltdown having forced them and other major corporations to tighten their belts and cut budgets, they, however, decided not to cut off softball.
He says their involvement with the sport is their way of giving back to the community they operate in as they believe the community needs an ongoing support.
Duthie says Barloworld Equipment continues to support sport as it represents the core values subscribed to by the company.
“Barloworld believes that sport encompasses many of the values that we uphold in our organization. Prime examples of these values would be winning through teamwork, passion, competitiveness and good health to name but a few,” he told his audience.
The tournament is expected to kick off on September 30 and end on October 2 with a prize giving ceremony.
The eight teams taking part in the tournament have been divided into two groups, with defending champions BDF VIIII in Group 1, alongside Wells, Rail Giants and Blue Angels, while the other group will be made of Bears, Gatalamotho, Scramblers and Vikings.
Teams in each group will play against each other in a round robin system with the top two in each group making the semifinals where they will face each other in knockout stages with the winners playing the final.
The Barloworld Equipment Botswana challenge is the brainchild of Ben Mahupela, a former Debswana employee in Jwaneng who started the tournament as a way for companies working in the diamond rich area to give back to the community.
According to BSA president, Marumo Morule, the tournament, which has always been sponsored by Barloworld, was initially sponsored to the tune of P5000 but the sponsorship grew over the years as the tournament got bigger.
Speaking in interview with Standard Sport, Morule said the tournament has now grown into one of the biggest in the country, both in terms of spectator turnout, money and the quality of competition offered.
“The standard of play in this tournament is very high as only top teams face each other in each game played. The facilities in Jwaneng, where the tournament is played, are also one of the best in the country,” he told Standard Sport.
He says teams participating in the tournament played other teams in elimination games to determine who takes part in the tournament, something which he says ensures only the best teams take part in the event. Morule, however, lamented the absence of female teams in the tournament, saying he hopes that should the tournament continue, women teams will become a regular feature.
The BSA chief says while they had women’s teams in the last tournament, companies which sponsored them pulled out this year due to the financial crisis.
He expressed gratitude to Barloworld for continuing their partnership with softball saying the tournament is now a brand within the softball calendar of events.
Morule encouraged players to do all the best to ensure the games give value for money.
The winner of the tournament will walk away with a trophy, gold medals as well as P12 000 cash. The runner up will get silver medals and P8 000 while the runners up will have to be content with bronze medals and P6000.
Apart from these, there will be individual prizes for the Most Valuable Player (MVP), Best Pitcher, Best catcher and Best Batter, for which there will be P500 reward each.