Debswana Mining Company has committed itself to continue its sponsorship of grassroots sports development and talent identification programmes in the country. The mining giant has announced a P3 million sponsorship towards Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC)’s ‘Re Ba Bona Ha’ sports development programme. The sponsorship extension, which covers the years 2014 -2017, was officially unveiled by the Debswana Managing Director, Balisi Bonyongo on Thursday.
The new sponsorship marks an increase of P1 million over the company’s past three-year sponsorship which stood at P2 million.
With Debswana already having invested P3.7 million, the new sponsorship will have taken the total cash investment from Debswana towards the programme to P6.7 million.
Under the renewed sponsorship, the grassroots sports development programme will now carry the mining giant’s flagship name, Debswana, and will be aptly renamed Debswana Re Ba Bona Ha Sports Development Programme.
Taking a leaf from the mining giant’s slogan, ‘Mining Diamonds, Enriching the nation,’ Bonyongo said the sponsorship shows his company’s intent to continue to ‘Mine sport talent to enrich this nation.’
He said the company sees the ‘Re Ba Bona Ha’ Programme as a vehicle through which future African, Commonwealth, World and Olympic champions are groomed and put through the right structures to accelerate sports development.
“As Debswana, we greatly believe in this initiative because as per the Setswana idiom, ‘Lore lo ojwa lo sale metsi,” Bonyongo explained.
The Debswana MD said ever since the inception of the programme, a number of youths who have graduated from the programme are now earning a living through sports.
He cited among others Algeria based ladies’ volleyball star Tracy Chaba, as well as South African based professional footballers Kabelo Dambe and Galabgwe Moyana as the programme’s graduates who are making a living out of sports.
Since its inception, when it only catered for football only, the programme has now grown to include 10 other codes, with tennis and judo joining the programme this year.
Meanwhile, the programme received another major boost as the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture has promised to match “pula by pula” whatever Debswana gives towards the Re Ba Bona Ha programme.
Speaking at the sponsorship launch, the Minister of Youth Sports and Culture, Shaw Kgathi, said his ministry is committed to the development of young athletes.
The minister said most of the funds given to sports from his ministry will be channeled towards sports development.
He said it is only through structured talent identification programmes like Re Ba Bona Ha that the country can develop a pool of athletes for national teams.
Kgathi however lamented the reluctance of some sporting codes to come on board and use the Re Ba Bona Ha sports development programme.
The minister called for sports leaders to invest in grassroots development, saying local sports needs bold leaders who can withstand the pressure for fleeting success over long-termsuccess.