When the Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) president Daniel Molaodi went out to give prizes during a tournament this past week, he must have had a sense of pride tinged with a little sadness.
Pride as to how his BVF committee continues to fight against all odds to keep volleyball alive, sadness at seeing his beloved sport continuing to struggle to keep alive.
Not since telecommunication giants Mascom Wireless cut off its sponsorship had BVF run a league. Add to that, it is another two years since another sponsor, Capital BMW also failed to renew the sponsorship of its self titled Capital BMW tournament.
As if that is not enough, after resurfacing for a year in 2017, another sponsor, JB Sport decided not to exercise its option to renew ties with volleyball for yet another year.
The departure of these partners has left the BVF in a lurch, and no sponsors have since shown willingness to take a chance on sponsoring the league. So far, only small tournaments organised by individual clubs have been keeping the sport alive.
For a proud man like Molaodi and his committee, a year devoid of competitive volleyball was unthinkable.
Faced with these oddities, the BVF committee under Molaodi did the only thing it could, sacrifice some of the programmes they had to get teams playing.
Speaking on the sidelines of the recent BVF tournament finals, the BVF president said the federation’s executive committee had taken a deliberate decision to ‘take a certain amount of their yearly grants from the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) to run a competition for its affiliates.’
“We decided to forego some of our planned administrative programmes to release the monies to enable us to run the tournament. Some of these include workshops for coaches and administrators,” he explained.
While it hurts the BVF president for the federation to forego some of its programmes, for him and his committee, it is a necessary evil. The sport is struggling to find sponsors.
As one of the Botswana’s best performing sporting codes, it still bemuses him that volleyball continues to struggle to get sponsors.
“If you look at volleyball, we are one of the best codes in the country and one of the best in the region. Continentally, we are among the best performing looking at where we are in terms of professional status,” he said.
“Regionally, our women teams, both at club and national team level are the best and when they want to, there is no regional team that can stop them. In the men’s teams at both club and national level, we are also up there with the best regionally and only teams like Zimbabwe and Angola give us a test,” he explained.
He said while Botswana is not professional, continentally, they have been able to competitively go head to head with countries which play at professional level.
“Looking at all this, it is still surprising that we are struggling to find sponsors. We have huge potential and it can only be explored if we are competitive,” the BVF President explained.
While the odds are still stacked against the BVF and the pressure is mounting on his executive committee to find sponsors, Molaodi is however not giving up, at least not yet.
For him, the BVF self sponsored tournament, while providing a little room for competitive action, is not enough.
The tournament not only runs over a very short period of two weeks, but is also not lucrative. The prize monies from the tournament cannot even cover the costs of individual teams to participate, let alone those of tournament winners.
“We are still working hard to try and get sponsors on board, but it is not easy. The costs of running a league or a tournament are very high. We need a minimum of P1 million to run a league season and at least P500 000 for a tournament,” he explained.
Molaodi said as a committee, they will be engaging with stakeholders this coming year to see how they can work together to lure and keep sponsors.
“We will engage all our stakeholders, the media included, to see how we can work together to ensure our sponsors will get good value and mileage for their sponsorships,” he said.