Grassroots sports programmes are crucial in the identification of young and budding athletes in the country.
National Sport Associations (NSAs) have different strategies in which they undertake their grassroots development projects.
Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA) has opted to donate tables and mini-tables at pre-school stage as part of its plan to nurture local talent from grassroots level. This approach by BTTA marks a departure from how the association formerly conducted its own grassroots development programs.
Katlego Nkwakweng, the BTTA development coordinator, says for most years of its existence in Botswana, the development programme was introduced to athletes at secondary school level only which made more people unaware of the sport.
“A lot of students do not know about table tennis until they reach secondary school. The purpose of the donation is, therefore, to spark interest and awareness of table tennis on pupils at a younger age,” the BTTA Development Coordinator explained.
In areas where there are table tennis club coaches and former table players, the individuals are engaged to train the students,” said Nkwakweng.
“BTTA has development coaches that are involved in the project to teach the pupils how to play and to share skills with the teachers on how to coach. However due to Covid-19 outbreak the association has reduced interzonal movements of coaches and therefore uses available skilled people in those regions,” she narrated.
Outlining how BTTA will join forces with the schools, she said the duty of the schools is to make sure the programme is infused and followed. She went on to add that the trainers are expected to monitor progress by paying regular visits, making phone calls, and assisting during arising challenges.
“BTTA occasionally visits to determine if the program is being followed fully and assists accordingly. It is the mandate of BTTA to avail table tennis to Batswana throughout the country.By taking the sport to preschool, BTTA is raising awareness by reaching different regions for donations across the country,” added Nkwakweng.
The quest for grassroot development recently started at Mustard Seed Pre School in Palapye and United Kids Pre Schools in Moiyabana which received mini-tables.
BTTA had previously also donated tables to schools in Ghanzi, Maun and Charles Hill.