It looks as if it will take more that a concerted effort for any Botswana national team to qualify for a major sporting event and bring medals home. While many countries have known nothing but smiles after major sport showpieces, Batswana have always had grim faces.
However, sports authorities in the country know exactly what it takes to be number one, but taking decisive action seems to be the main problem.
The Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) last year proposed that the current system, whereby the available money is equitably distributed to the affiliated sports codes, is not doing them any good and as such it should be changed.
The Executive Secretary of the BNSC, Kitso Kemoeng, said most successful countries around the world prefer other codes at the expense of others. He said the government money given to the governing sports bodies is split unevenly and thus fast tracking sports development.
Example of such countries include the likes of Australia, Kenya, and Brazil. Australia is pumping a lot of money in water games like swimming, cricket and rugby and the results are there for the whole world to see.
Athletics’ is one of the sports codes enjoying much support from the Kenyan government and has never disappointed as they always bring medals for the East African country. Brazil also is the world’s leading soccer powerhouse because of the massive boast they get from their government.
The issue is yet to be debated by the BNSC and other concerned stakeholders and how the final results will come out remains to be seen. Once it is adopted, a variety of things have to be taken into consideration. A certain number of codes have to be selected and even the criteria used should be clearly defined.
On the other hand, the Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana National Olympic Committee, Tuelo Serufho, hails the movement by BNSC, saying it is the only way to go if Botswana is to be competitive world wide.
“It might sound unpopular but it is the way to go or else, as a country, we would not go anywhere. We have to change our strategy in developing sport and inequitable distribution of resources is the way to go. For instance Judo is the most popular sport in Tunisia just like football. It all started when the federation of the sports decided to sponsor only a few athletes. Those athletes started bringing in more medals and the popularity of the sport grew. As such, more companies started to pour in more money and more athletes came on board,” he said.
Serufho also added that once more money gets into sport, it becomes self sustaining and the governing body would in turn help other codes. Serufho also emphasised that BNOC is heading in the same direction.
He said, initially, they used to get money for athletes who have qualified but now they get money well in time before major competitions like the Commonwealth games and even the Olympics, adding that they will spread their money to a small number of athletes well before the games so that they are prepared.