The BDF XI Football Club, along with the United States Embassy and PSI, have merged to spread the HIV/AIDS message to the football community through ‘SEKWATA CAMPAIGN’.
Announcing the partnership during a media briefing at the army barracks in Mogoditshane, Botswana Defence Force AIDS coordinator, Mooketsi Ditsela, said that it is upon them to protect the army officers and football lovers from the dangers of HIV/AIDS.
He stated that they decided to use the army football club as they believe that they can reach out to many people.
Starting with their Be MOBILE Premier League game against Gaborone United (GU) which was played at the SSKB Stadium in Mogoditshane yesterday (Saturday), BDF XI kit has been branded SEKWATA (Sex, knowledge, AIDS, Testing, Awareness) in front and they will use the SEKWATA branded kits for the entire season.
The idea of partnership is to encourage the football community, especially men to play it safe when it comes to relationships.
“You need to use a condom, reduce sexual partners and do male circumcision. Our campaign logo, which will be branded on BDF XI jerseys, will help us reach out to many people. This is an effort between us and the American Embassy. We’ll also have a technical sponsorship from PSI,” said Ditsela.
The army officer further pointed out that BDF XI would not be gaining any financial rewards from the partnership as most people might think.
“Apart from reaching out at our colleagues, we’ve youngsters in the team and we would like to empower them with life-skills because there are tomorrow’s generation,” he said.
According to the army major, their partnership with American Embassy comes a long way and the response has been good as most army officers have tested in the past. Nowadays you cannot see someone going to the grave (dying), at least they test and, if there is need, they start taking ARVs while they’re still fit,” added Ditsela.
He hinted that in future, all the army sporting sides will wear SEKWATA branded kits to reach to other codes.
For his part, American Embassy representative, David Kelapile, said that they have assisted the army with construction of Voluntary Testing Centres (VTC) in the past, which has been very helpful. He said that US Government has pledged $1m for the entire project.
Kelapile added that they are expecting American doctors to come in the country soon to help with the male circumcision project.
BDF XI manager, Masego Ntshingane, told the journalists that while football is about enjoyment, the football community must not forget their responsibilities.
“We need to be involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS because the epidemic affects us one way or another. Where possible, we’ll take the AIDS committee with us when travelling to away games so that supporters can test before games,” he said.
BDF XI chairman, Boikanyo Addanes, said that his side is not only concentrating on football because they have social responsibilities.
The army brigadier said that BDF XI has role models and they have to lead by example in fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“The BDF Commander (Tebogo Masire) is encouraging us in this campaign. It is the beginning of our long journey in ensuring that we’ve a responsible nation,” stated Addanes.