Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Cash strapped rugby league vows to soldier on

Despite struggling to get sponsorships and a chronic lack of facilities, the Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) says it expects to have an exciting and highly competitive season this year.

The BRU started its calendar season yesterday (Saturday) with new comers White Rhinos taking on the league’s defending champions, Gaborone Hogs.

“Currently, we do not have a sponsor for our league. We are, however, hopeful that we will find sponsors very soon,” BRU’s Secretary, Mpho Masisi, said in an interview.

Masisi says while the lack of sponsorships and playing fields adversely affect their league, the BRU will be hoping that the passion for the sport by clubs and players will carry the sport through its problems.

“We have always asked our affiliated clubs to do their own fundraising to pay for their expenses and so far it has worked,” Masisi said in an interview.

The BRU’s Secretary says despite their financial struggles, the union has always managed to stage the league successfully, adding that the only major problem they have always encountered has been at the end of the season when they had to award winners with prizes.

With regards to infrastructure and playing fields, the BRU secretary says they are busy at work trying to solve the problem. With only a couple of grounds suitable to play competitive rugby, Masisi says they have urged clubs to cooperate with each other to ensure that all matches are played as scheduled.

Of the five good grounds, four are readily available for teams while the fifth one, the University of Botswana ground, is not always available and is expensive for teams.

The other fields are the Gaborone Hogs, Jwaneng, Orapa and Selebi Phikwe. While being available to teams at a relatively cheaper price, Masisi says the problem now lies with the distance teams have to travel to get to the grounds.

He, however, says the BRU is trying its best to address this issue but their financial struggles are hampering their progress.

“We have already been allocated a field but our current financial problems mean we are not able to develop it,” the BRU Secretary added. On other issues relating to the rugby league, the BRU secretary says the union is doing all it can to improve the standard of rugby in the country.

According to Masisi, the union intends to be more involved in helping teams to get better qualified coaches and officials. He says as such, their intention is to train more club coaches, train referees as well as to teach players about the game of rugby as well as the laws of the game. He says they will also be looking at helping teams with balls, cones and other necessities to help them cut expenses. Meanwhile, the BRU secretary says the rugby union is witnessing a major growth in the overall participation in rugby sport. According to Masisi, clubs from as far as Maun and Kasane will be joining their Division B league, something which points to the growth of the sport in the country. He says the BRU is also looking at establishing clubs in big villages like Molepolole and Serowe as well as in primary schools to help drive the growth and the development of the sport.

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