After a long absence from the game, Botswana Hockey Association (BHA) has launched a spirited comeback that is however threatened by financial constraints.
The year 2015 was a nightmare for the leadership of BHA as lack of finances crippled their efforts to keep the associations on and off-field activities alive. BHA has since launched a rejuvenated comeback which, though encouraging, is still under threat from financial constraints. Nevertheless the association has managed to revive the men’s senior team alongside primary and secondary schools activities; though progress was hindered by lack of funds to finance participation in scheduled competitions.
BHA Chairperson, Unaswi Matebu said in an interview that this year they plan to revive all of their national teams and development structures.
“I’m glad we managed to recover from the worst to the better. We are taking one step at a time and at the moment we are working on bringing back the teams so we can start our activities full force,” she said.
Matebu highlighted that their desire is for hockey to be recognized like any other sporting code in the country, especially where financing is concerned. Another challenge faced by BHA is that of shortage of trained officials, which has delayed the start of the local elite league as it had to be put on hold for some time. Matebu explained that BHA has no problems running its youth activities at the moment as its major challenge lies with the seniors where the association does not have qualified umpires to preside over the games.
“This is a serious setback,” she said.
To that end, BHA intends to organize an induction course for local hockey umpires, administrators and coaches; with the aim of making them eligible to preside over league games.
“We plan to bring an international expert who will train local officials. We also want to send a few locals outside to acquire the necessary skills. The plan is to start our league as early as June this year,” revealed Matebu.
BHA is currently using the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) grounds for all its activities, which also costs the association a lot of money. Also, the BNYC grounds are often used by other sporting codes which at times deters BHA’s full training program due to time limits. However, Matebu revealed that they have sought assistance from BNSC to identify funds and a suitable piece of land in which they can build their own play ground that is compliant with international hockey regulations. After failing to compete in all regional and international competitions last year due to financial constraints, BHA has vowed that this year will be their turning point. Meanwhile both boys and girls teams are gearing up for a tournament in Namibia scheduled for next month.
“We selected a provisional squad last year August and we have been keeping a close eye on them. We will soon select the final team that will represent the country at the championships. We are only waiting for BNSC to finance our trip,” Matebu said.
The BHA’s 2016 calendar of events has a hectic schedule which the association must meet in order to validate its affiliation to the International Hockey Federation (IHF).