BY ANITA RANNOBA
Sports has for a long time been seen as a forte for men. Thus, for women, a career in sport whether as a player or administrator, is laden with difficulties.
For a long time in Botswana, as it has been internationally, women have been brushed aside as their male counterparts dominated the arena.
Aside from cultural and religious barriers, women in sport face discrimination, sexism and being overlooked as ‘the fairer sex.’
Despite the odds stacked against them, some women have gone against the stereotype and beat a path for those coming behind them.
With the world having celebrated International Women’s Day this past Friday, the Sunday Standard reflects and celebrates local women who have had an impact on local sports.
These are women who have not just advocated for equal treatment of women in sport but have also used sport as a vehicle to mentor and empower women and in particular the girl child.
One of the country’s seasoned politicians, Makgato came to prominence when she took over as the Chairperson of the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC), then known as the Botswana national Sports Council (BNSC).
Taking the reins at a time when men led all sporting codes, netball included, Makgato pushed for women to take administrative roles and netball became her starting point.
This step by Makgato marked the beginning of the breaking of the glass ceiling for women in sport and ever since then, local women have been ever more visible in sport.
For her advocacy, she was elected the first chair of “Women in Sports” and has also been recognised globally for her efforts in sports Administration.
Her efforts also gained her recognition beyond the shores of Botswana. She has from time to time been invited to be a global ambassador of women in sports in quite a number of capacities. She believes more women should be empowered in decision making positions.
Mothibi has always been destined for a career in sports administration. After a short career as a table tennis player, the diminutive Mothibi ditched playing sport for a career in administration.
Ever since then, she has served African Table Tennis in various interim positions while working with the BNSC.
Because of her commitment to women in sport, When Botswana hosted the IWG in Women and Sport, it was Mothibi who was selected to lead the as Secretary General.
While short in stature, Mothibi is a giant in sports administration and a fiery advocate for women in sports. Over the years, she has focussed on creating a safe and grounded sporting environment for women.
“I am a very hard working woman, nothing standards in my way, I am a feminist, I tell the truth as it is and I love sports,” Mothibi says when describing herself.
“Whatever greatness people see in me I want to rub it on them, I want this generation to have more Games for I live to empower women and bring out the great in them. I grew up as a shy person but sports gave me a voice a voice I want to share with the outside world not only my fellow country man. Through IWG I was able to be part of the International board for IWG still pushing women forward and empowering them,” Mothibi said.
If ever there is a face for women sports administrators, you better look no further than Tebogo LebotseSebego.
A very talented netballer in her heydays, LebotseSebego had to battle harder than other players in her generation to make the national team due to her short stature, and she won.
It was this tenacity that stood the Mochudi born dynamite Sports a good stead when she finally quit playing for administrative role.
While assuming her leadership role at a time when men dominated sports, LebotseSebego proved herself to be no push-over. Over the years, she has distinguished herself as a fiery leader who is not afraid to ‘go against the tide.’
While she has long quit her position as Botswana Netball Association (BONA) president, LebotseSebego has not been lost to sport. She is the president of Africa Netball and a board member of the International Netball Federation.
“I do volunteer work for Sports with special attention to Netball which I fondly call #MYFIRSTLOVE, over the years of sports voluntarism, I have first hand experienced the disparity in reward and recognition between female and male athletes. I am also aware of the challenges female administrators face in managing sports and the disparity in representation in sports leadership. I set up a Trust in 2016 which I will use to lobby and appeal for support for female athletes and sport. My first project was player’s welfare for the Under 21 Team that competed at the Netball World Youth Cup 2017,” she said.
One name that need no introduction in women in sport is that of Tsoseletso ‘Tsosi’ Magang, who is the founder of Sports Devemopment Trust.
Perhaps one of the most talented local women athletes, Tsosi, like many others before her, made her name in the sporting arena before becoming an administrator.
A multi-talented athlete, Tsosi first came to prominence as a national team triple jumper before transitioning to volleyball where she also proved herself more than capable and was called for national duty.
Since retiring from active participation in sport, she has since taken it upon herself to inspire a new generation of sporting women.
Through her Sports Development Trust, Tsosi runs programmes that give women an opportunity to come and network with stakeholders for empowerment and support.
She facilitated the running of a leadership programme for female captains during the 2018 Region 5 Youth Games as a development for empowering the girl child.
“To impart more Knowledge and understanding women will be trained and used to run the course. BISA has pleaded that both males and females team captains be trained so that there is a learning involvement for both genders. Women are progressing well even though they do not have other women to help and offer support to them. As a result women hold workshops, table talks and monthly open discussions where ideas are generated from different angles to help women grow, the talks will be taken as food for thought then implemented accordingly,” Magang said.
Malebogo Max Molefhe
If ever there is an epitome of a never die spirit, look no further than Malebogo Max Molefhe. In 2009, the former national team basketball player was shot eight times by an ex-boyfriend and left for dead.
Against all odds, Molefhe fought back and lived to tell the tale. Nowadays, Molefhe, is an activist against Gender Based Violence and an advocate for the inclusion of the disabled people in sports.
Using the only sport she loves, Molefhe, through her Malebogo Max Trust Foundation, runs and hosts ‘The Max’ basketball tournament which is aimed at raising awareness about Gender Based Violence as well as Wheelchair Basketball.
Aside from this, Molefhe has also availed herself to grace different forums to share her experiences and sensitize the nation on Gender Based Violence.
Other notable mentions are; Ruth Maphorisa, Grace Muzila, Amnatle Montsho, Dorothy Okatch, Christine Botlogetswe, Naledi Marape, Boinelo Hardy, Keamogetse Kenosi, Boikhutso Mudongo, Gaoletlho Nkutlwisang, Irene Ntelamo, Malebo Raditladi, Tapiwa Marobela- Masunga, Mmaneke Ntebo Maplanka, just to mention but a few.
We celebrate your sportsmanship; we salute your bravery and your achievements. Keep on shinning and raising our flag high.