Monday, May 16, 2022

Can sport be a gateway to better life for Batswana athletes?

For a majority of us, more especially in Botswana, sport is just fun and games. For some, it is just lifestyle, a way to keep fit and healthy.

But for others, more especially athletes, sport is a way of life, a way to eke a living.   These are people who have invested their being in sports, they align all their life goals with their sporting code. Sport for them means endless time on the training fields or high-performance competitions. They live and breathe sports.

Across the world, professional sportsmen rake in millions of dollars through playing sport. Everything they do centers around sport. In the case of Botswana, things are a little different. Sport here is not viewed by many as a possible career. This has led many to ask if sports in Botswana is beneficial financially, and if one could dedicate their life fully to it.

For a few who have dedicated their lives to sport, the question is always there. How many can make it and to what extent can they make a living out of their passion for sport?

According to Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) Secretary General Mokwaledi Tingwane, the state of sports in Botswana is not that bad. He however believes a lot still needs to be done for it to be beneficial to athletes as well as the country’s economy.

“Athletes can live off sports, in general by being professional athletes as the likes of Isaac Makwala or being officials and trainers even after their retirement from playing professional sports,” he explained.

Tingwane highlighted that they have several trainers/coaches who live by bringing income solely through coaching young players, some have academies, some sell sports equipment. He said “This indeed shows that sports not only benefits athletes as a source of income, but coaches too.”

On how they assist athletes who intend to earn a living through sport and if there are financial benefits they offer, the BCF Secretary General had this to say; “We do not have a standard allowance, we assist athletes on a need to basis, like registration fees, accommodation when they want to participate outside, out of the assistance from BNSC.”

This aside, he is adamant that sport can be used to earn a living, even here in Botswana. “Sports can be a way of life, it helps getting young players from the streets who might live a bad life, sports is also educational. In chess we have highly rated players like IM Providence Oatlhotse & WIM Boikhutso Modongo as examples of athletes who live by means of sport,” concluded Tingwane.

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