Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Companies must pop millions for sports

The United Nations and its agencies regard Botswana as a middle income economy. As a result the country does not enjoy the privileges it used to from major world donors and lenders.

The improved economy of the country has in turn seen an influx of many companies, especially the multinationals making sky rocketing profits. We have to be grateful that they are employing Batswana who otherwise would be roaming the streets.
However, there is a worrying trend with most of the companies trading in Botswana by not supporting sports. Sports play a pivotal role in peoples’ lives worldwide.

In some countries sports contributes so much to the Gross Domestic Product. In a country like Botswana where economic diversification is big debate, sports can play its role. While companies are not coming forth, sports cannot progress. Not even a fraction of them is doing something that is tangible to help take sports to the next level. What is even shocking is that most of such companies are bankrolling sports heavily in their native countries with incredible sums of money totaling billions.

One would even wonder whether such companies do not want to see Botswana become competitive because the country has a lot of potential. It looks like everything in the country is mainly left to the government, which, with all fairness, is trying all it can. All the government needs is the support of the private sector which unfortunately is dragging its feet.

There have been athletes like Justice Dipeba, Glody Dube, Tuelo Setswamorago and others. Many of them disappeared into oblivion because they could not get the necessary support that is essential for the growth of an athlete.

Currently there is Amantle Montsho and Kabelo Kgosiemang who are taking the world by storm but no company has come forward to take their careers to the next level. This is the time whereby they should be perennial competitors at major international events but due to shortage of funds, they are falling short of that. With proper assistance Montsho could be a well decorated athlete Botswana has ever produced. Even at the 2012 Olympics Montsho might at least get a bronze medal.

It is, however, not too late for some companies to assist her. If it was in other countries she could be very far in her professional life. Imagine Montsho is the best in Africa and just before 2008 Olympic she was the 800 meters African title holder. There is no reason she shouldn’t be the best in the world.

The same thing goes to celebrated boxer, Khumiso Ikgopoleng. Ikgopoleng called it quits prematurely because nobody came forward to assist him to another level. The government is trying by taking promising athletes to advanced countries but alone government can only go so far.

Government should put pressure on companies to plant back heavily to the society they are getting so much money from. Most sponsorships in Botswana have proved that they are also drawn not on merit but rather on social connections. There are many examples where people used their friendships and even positions to acquire sponsorships.

But once their term in office comes to an end or friendship goes sour, the sponsorships also get withdrawn. The big question is why it is like that.
Granted it is difficult to force companies to give out their money to such causes like sports.

What the Government should put in place are clear guidelines that are meant to incentivise companies to sponsor sports.
One innovation that immediately comes to mind is that of a tax regime that looks generously at companies involved in sports.


Read this week's paper

The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.