Last year, the Botswana Softball Association (BSA), citing financial hardships, halted its league activities since they did not have sponsorship. Instead, few tournaments were organised but were not enough to keep players busy and supporters entertained. The BSA was critisised for stopping the league saying lack of sponsorship was not a concrete reason.
The critics gave examples of other sports codes, such as basketball that has been running without sponsorship for several years.
The BSA seems to have bowed to pressure, because they started their 2007 league activities yesterday (Saturday) without a sponsor. The BSA President, Marumo Morule, told The Sunday Standard that they started their league programme under a concept, ?Ipelegeng? (Self reliance). Morule said under the ?Ipelegeng? concept, they will raise money for themselves to bankroll their league instead of waiting for the sponsors to come forward. Morule also made it clear that BSA has for the past years found it hard to attract sponsorships. The last time the softball league was fully sponsored was in 2003 when it was sponsored Shell, the oil company.
?We have to keep this lovely game going, even when circumstances are hard for us. Since it has proved to be difficult to attract sponsors, we did not want to just sit and say there is no money; we had to do something. The corporate sector can also not just give out the money, if there is nothing on the ground; we need to do something and, hopefully, the Good Samaritan will assist us on the way,? he said.
Morule added that some of their initiative is to appeal to both the government and the private sector and even schools to help them. He said they would draw up a programe for their targeted sectors to contribute as little money as P1.00 per month or even a year. He, however, admitted that the initiative might have difficulty in accountability, but he said the association would sit down and iron out some of the problems that might arise.
Morule also said even the annual grant they get from the Botswana Softball Association is too little and cannot cover the activities of all 22 softball teams in the country.
However, the coach of the feared side, Paper Club, Sthandwa Kgosiyang, decried that the league is starting at a time when his team is facing pitching crisis. He said his two versatile pitchers are not easily available. Internationally renowned Petrus Sebina is reportedly working in Kanye and does not train regularly with the team while Tony Moyo is now based in Cape Town, South Africa. Kgosiyang, however, said they would try by all means to avert the situation.
The league started yesterday and will go for winter break in May.
Softball is one of the codes that always does well in international games, but always struggle financially. Even the players sometimes revolt demanding allowance increments because they say what they currently get is peanuts. A memorable incident was two years ago during the Zone VI tournament in Lesotho. The players boycotted the games and had to be sent back home for what the association said was indiscipline. The team ended up performing dismally and countries that Botswana used to easily defeat turned the tables on them.
Last year, after the ladies team qualified for the World Championships in China, softball sent out an SOS pleading for money. A lot of fundraising activities were carried out before the team left for the tournament. Even some big companies, like Debswana came on board to help the team. The team ended up performing better, because they defeated some traditionally powerhouse countries. Even in the games in which they lost, they displayed the fighting spirit of a wounded buffalo.
Meanwhile, the Zone VI club championships will be held on May 26. They were previously billed for March but had to be postponed because many countries did not confirm their participation.
According to the BSA, only three countries, have confirmed their participation. The BSA has, however, expressed optimism that other countries will also confirm their participation.