Teachers who identified and groomed Team Botswana Commonwealth gold medalists Isaac Makwala and Amantle Montsho were back at their happy hunting grounds on Monday – when Botswana Primary School Sports Association (BOPSSA) and Integrated Sports Association (BISA) kicked started the national athletics competition in Francistown – hoping to unearth more talent.
Buoyed by Botswana’s gold haul at the recent Commonwealth Games in Australia, the local primary school’s competition held at the Francistown Complex was feted as the making of Botswana’s next gold strike.
Under the theme of ‘Grooming Future Starts,’ BOPSSA used Botswana’s success story at Gold Cost 2018 to energize and inspire the young athletes.
Speaking at the official opening of the competition, assistant Minister of Basic Education Thato Kwerepe said, “as we start competitions today, all the athletes who are here are aware of what our team achieved in Australia. The young boys and girls are raring to go with a view to emulate the success of team Botswana. This indirectly is creating a path for our future stars. This competition will help my ministry and the nation of Botswana to identify talent and later groom it to match the standards achieved by elder brothers and sisters. It is however worth noting that the success of the team at the commonwealth games did not start from a vacuum. I am told Amantle Montsho, Baboloki Thebe, Karabo Sibanda, Isaac Makwala, Christic Botlogetswe, Galefele Moroko, Leaname Maotoanong, Onkabetse Nkobolo, to mention but a few were identified and coached by teachers in this crowd.”
He said the theme becomes very relevant when one looks at the Ministry’s adopted strategy, Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan, (ETSSP). The minister said the strategy sought to create platforms or pathways for the learners to express their talent without necessarily being biased towards academic success. He said furthermore, ETSSP recognized the learner’s skills as well as capability outside the classroom. “It is therefore my Ministry’s deliberate effort to see to it that students who excel in sporting activities are supported or assisted in creating a path that will lead to success at international arenas. My ministry’s attention also goes to arts. However, today we are biased towards sports as we are in sporting activity,” he said.
Kwerepe said sport played a very critical role in modern day era. It has become a source of wealth, entertainment, employment creation, unites nations, communities and enhances health. “After winning several medals at the commonwealth games, the members of team Botswana will go all the way smiling to the banks after receiving their incentives or bonuses. Their families, friends, business community will indirectly benefit from that which they received from the nation. This would influence how they carry themselves about and the process private business entities would want to be associated with them and they will pay for that. This in a way is equivalent to economic diversification,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the association, the Vice Chairperson of BOPSSA, Joshua Gaotlhobogwe said the competition attracts approximately 3000 participants, students, and teachers every year. He said the number increases yearly, which is a positive sign of growth. “However we have several challenges that we face as an association especially when it comes to competing international standards. There are not enough sporting facilities in most schools across the country to help groom our students to international levels. I am pleading for funding of sports in schools,” he said.
At the end of these competitions, a team will be selected which will represent the country at a Confederation of School Sport Associations of Southern Africa’s athletics championships which will be held also at the Francistown Sports Complex.