For many years, some sports codes, such as golf and cricket, were seen as elite sports played only by people from well-to-do backgrounds. This resulted in both sports being dominated by mostly foreigners, especially from Europe and Asia.
Ordinary men on the street could not play any of the codes because almost everything about them both was deemed expensive and unaffordable. That perception, however, seems to be slowly changing because more Batswana, especially kids, are playing the sport competitively. Even during the tournaments the numbers are always soaring.
The two codes have also come up with initiatives to take the sports to the people to convince them that the codes are affordable and that they can easily join in. Cricket is conducting training clinics for kids in Gaborone and the surrounding areas, thanks to the efforts of Girish Ramakrishma, Botswana Cricket Association (BCA) treasurer. Ramakrishma, who is also responsible for cricket youth development, told The Sunday Standard that they hold the training clinics six days a week. He said that they are mainly targeting the children because they want to change the perception associated with cricket being a sport for the elite, and children can easily learn.
?From Monday to Thursday we hold clinics in primary schools such as Mojadife (Mogobane), Rasesa, Phillip Moshotle (Gaborone Block 8) and Kgosi Kgosi in Tlokweng. As part of our social responsibility, we have dedicated Fridays to Tlokweng?s SOS School while on Saturday there is a free coaching clinic at the Gaborone Cricket club,? he said.
Ramakrisma said if everything went well, they will roll out the clinics to other schools around the country. The major problem, he said, is that most local teachers do not know much about cricket, but the BCA is trying to hold cricket courses as was the case two weeks ago.
?From March 16 to 17, we held cricket course for the teachers and I was impressed with the turnout, and I hope that in the next course more teachers would come on board. Remember that once more teachers participate, more skills would be transferred to the kids and Botswana could become one of the strongest cricket nations,? he said.
Ramakrishma said they are planning to hold holiday clinics for the kids when the schools are closed.
In addition, the Botswana Golf Union (BGU) has made it a norm to hold training clinics for the kids during the school holidays. The turn-out has always been encouraging, something which the administrative secretary of the BGU, Comfort Ramatebele, says shows growth of the sport in the country.
Ramatebele also said they intend to increase the number of clubs in the country to increase the competition. Ramatebele said once tight
competition is there, the sport would be more interesting and more money would roll in.
?Last week, we had a tournament, called Orange Premier, at the Phakalane Golf Estate and about 150 golfers turned up. I was really amazed. Just recently, our clubs increased to nine, following the emergence of another one in Kasane. It was not long when we had few golf clubs in the country and this increment is a welcome development,? he said.
Ramatebele added that several golf clubs in the country have reduced their subscription fees so that the sport can be affordable to almost ever one who is interested. He said the subscription is mainly meant to maintain the playing grounds.
Also as a way of taking golf to the people, Ramatebele added that the BGU is working on the modalities of incorporating caddies into their programmes. He said caddies can develop into good golfers as the BGU has already experienced.
Ramatebele emphasised that the duo of Phenyo Lekgoa and Boitshepho Nfila were caddies before and will, in a few months to come, represent Botswana at the upcoming Zone VI games.
One initiative that is in the BGU pipeline is a training programme for sports journalists. Ramatebele said many local journalists lack golf skills and they want to equip themselves so that they can report about golf eloquently.
?Training programmes for sports journalists is good in the way that it helps journalists to learn a lot about the sport , how the game is played and what it takes for one to be the winner,? he said.
He added that the BGU, in collaboration with other clubs, would like to run golf open days This, he said, is similar to what is known as Sunday football that is mainly played for entertainment. He said if their efforts bear fruit, golf would be one of the greatest sports codes in the country.