BY ANITA RANNOBA
For some time now a great number of people are coming out of the closet, and proudly so, as Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexual, Transgender (LGBT) in the public eye.
However, when it comes to sport, it seems no athlete is ready to come out of the closet.
Social attitudes and lack of information have hampered policies to ensure an inclusive approach to the LGBT people, but what about sports?
As one of the highly loved sport, football is a discipline sport that presents itself as neutral, universal and in a way, de-sexualised making it impossible to show homosexuality in football.
“As sad as it may seem, I would not recommend any player coming out of the closet. A player coming out would have to ensure hostile fans on the field during every game and they would never come out as gays because we as a nation have not accepted them,” players who choose to be anonyms shared.
Noting that, for him as a player in the premier league, things will not be the same if a player in their team or any team announces such about his sexuality but that does not mean he should not be part of the team or leave football adding that if his sexual orientation does not affect the team, he then sees no wrong in having him in the team.
He continued to say, 80% of women who play football are lesbians and people are accepting of it but fail to accept gays, it seems like people forget that we have life’s to live from football because it is just a business like any business he said.
Local football analyst, Jimmy George, is of the view that football is all about talent and gift people are given and it has very little to do with a player’s sexual orientation. The game is more like a Church. It accommodates all that must be done to show acceptance. Still he highlighted that homosexual in the Constitution of Botswana is illegal which makes things a bit harder for a player.
“We should be tolerated and accepting even if we have different views on the issue, it is not our calling to persecute people. Player’s personal life has nothing to do with the game,” George said.
A survey carried out on 20 random people, 19 out of 20 were very much against that any player may post as gay or bi- sexual as the game is considered to be masculine and having ‘a gay’ involved and knowing that they are like that will complicate everything.
Tumelo Mokgeli, noted that as a diehard supporter for local football he would be very disappointed if any player pulls such a stunt as football is not just a game for him but a personal life affair which his emotions are attached. However, he said the thought of knowing that there is a gay player will destroy his view of football and it is not only on him but it will apply on many supporters.
“Thinking about this issue makes my stress level go high, but as for me because in most cases we idols this players even young boys envision themselves as them it is a very emotional and sensitive issue but as for me I would opt for the player never to be included in the top 11 that means automatically thrown out of the team even if it is a player I love or I quit football once and for all,” Mokgeli said.
One supporter who asked to remain anonymous said he does not have a problem with what sexuality a player is as long as the team is performing well he is fine. Furthermore he said their affairs have nothing to do with us fans but rather we should accept them as they are as they are people to and deceive to be happy as much as we want to be happy.
A comment from the Botswana Football Association (BFA) through the public relations officer, Tumo Mpatane said as an association they follow the protocol of the nation, the constitution of Botswana does not recognize gays, bi-sexuality, lesbians or transgender. That was the end of the comment.
In conclusion to the matter, the blue nation is far from ready for homosexuality and as for sport it is better remaining in the closet then risking tolose what you have established through the back lash of supporters, administrates or even the sponsors.