President Ian Khama’s administration will be committed to sponsoring constituency sport tournaments despite threats to the national football team, stripped of coveted and lucrative international games.
The advent of President Khama into the highest office saw the introduction of a constituency league which runs parallel to FIFA rules and regulations.
“The constituency sport tournaments continue to be popular. Participation rates have grown from over 28,000 at inception in late 2008 to over 67,000 as of June 2014,” said President Khama on Thursday in his State of the Nation Address.
“There is an encouraging trend of players graduating from the tournaments to the mainstream teams, as well as some teams rising to affiliate to formal football structures.”
Under the stewardship of Khama, the ruling party suffered a devastating decline during the recent national elections with the opposition parties garnering 20 constituency seats- the first in the history of a country governed by the party with majority constituencies.
Inundated with youths participation, especially the unemployed, the league is seen by detractors as a waste of time for the unregistered leisure teams which compete with one another for a paltry sum of money from the office of the President.
Without mentioning the teams and beneficiaries of the tournament, the President was further delighted by the performance of senior athletes at the Commonwealth Games and African Senior Championships.
He cited the latter event in which Botswana emerged fourth overall position, with six medals including four gold medals.
“Over the past year we have been delighted with the increased success of our athletes in various international completions, including the 2nd Africa Youth Games that were held here in Gaborone with nearly 2,000 athletes from 53 countries competing. Botswana was represented by 198 athletes from various sport codes, who together won a total 31 gold, silver and bronze medals,” President Khama noted.
Their success was followed up with two more silver medals at the Nanjing Youth Olympics.
While this was truly a year that Nijel Amos and Isaac Makwala consolidated their status as global sport stars, there are many others also worthy of mention, as the number of Batswana who are successfully competing on the international stage has been steadily growing.
Khama was equally proud and thankful to all the organisers and volunteers who made the Gaborone games such an overall success.
Looking to the future Botswana is working towards further growing these numbers by implementing different sport development initiatives.
On a fact finding mission, a Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) delegation visited Botswana some months ago and gave the government an ultimatum to affiliate the constituency league with the Botswana Football Association or stop the initiative.