Sport has to be transformed for it to significantly contribute in the economy like in other economies across the world.
The sport development agenda should be sound so that results can be attained.
These sentiments were shared by Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West, Ditlhapelo Keorapetse, in parliament responding to the President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). He said sport should be commercialized.
“It is important to note that sport contribute significantly in economies across the world. I wish to see a methodical and meaningful engagement of Government through the Minister, Tumiso Rakgare who has worked as a sport journalist before who should understand the plight of sportsmen and women of this country” Keorapetse said.
The legislator also wanted the sporting governing body – Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) – to improve the way they have been doing things. He noted that sporting codes are in a serious financial, administrative and personnel constraints.
“They are always in the papers for the wrong reasons because there is a monumental dereliction of duty by the BNSC to regulate and supervise these, and for them to account fully on their use of public funds” said Keorapetse.
On sports development the MP observed that the reality is that Botswana sport does not have systematic programme on sports development. “Our talent is not finished talent because it is picked from the streets and thrown onto a competitive stage” he told parliament.
Sports development should entail planning, monitoring, nurturing and promoting talent. It is a process and it needs money. The Minister of Sports is acutely aware of how much development went into developing Sergio Mani, Mo Salah and others such as Lionel Messi.
“When we discovered such players such as Tsotso Ngele, it was private efforts of the likes of Sexton Kowa to see to it that he was maximally developed. That is why he eventually turned into a full professional. It is an expensive and protracted process” Keorapetse.
“The biggest problem with Botswana Government is that your priorities are misplaced. Today you hear of Artesia Community Junior Secondary School, a school of excellence. What has been put into Artesia, and what is the output? What needs to be done to have a successful school of excellence?” Keorapetse asked rhetorically.
“We need a coordinated well-thought plan on sports development. Today, we are told we are building mini-stadiums. We are still debating mini-stadiums when other countries are discussing hosting major tournaments which project their countries to the world,” he charged.
Keorapetse implored government to consider supporting codes that are doing well with more resources because they are bring results and making the country proud.
“Government must consider softball, netball, volleyball, karate and athletics as priority because we have demonstrated beyond doubt in Africa and the world that we can compete against the best,” the legislator advised.
“I have played softball myself Mr Speaker. I know what is needed to get this code to where it should be. I appreciate the talent we have in softball, but I also know the pain under which they play to represent this country. They have no resources and they get very little attention from Government” Keorapetse observed.
He went on to add the softball travails are the same with those of netball, which despite representing us on world stage and even exporting talent to overseas markets, is still neglected.
Athletics has been besieged by controversy because there is no serious oversight by the BNSC according to Keorapetse. We need to assist and advance volleyball. We are ranked among top 10 in Africa. Government needs to come closer to football and help it become commercial.
“Government cannot simply rely on the business acumen of the BFA President alone to turn football around when we still have poor infrastructures such as national stadia which our recent opponents, Algeria, termed a kraal. There is no thought or effort put into sports development or infrastructure. We continue to rely on street talent and nothing is put in to develop talent from ages of 9 to 15” observed Keorapetse.
Batswana have lost interest in the national team because there seems to be no aspiration to play at Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) or World Cup.
The team appointed by the Minister at the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) board is encouraging looking at its diversity. “The question is what is their mandate?” wondered Keorapetse.