Softball lovers and enthusiasts in Jwaneng are in for a treat this coming Easter holidays as 28 teams go head to head in the Wells Majoboge Softball championships.
The annual Majoboge Construction company-sponsored softball fan fest, which will be entering its third year, is hosted by Jwaneng-based Wells Softball club in conjunction with the Botswana Softball Association (BSA). According to the tournament’s Local Organising Committee (LOC) chairperson, Goitsemang Mabote, this year’s tournament’s total sponsorship stands at P96 500, a far cry from the P31 000 they got in the second edition of the tournament last year.
After getting a sponsorship of close to P84 000 in its maiden edition in 2009, Mabote says the tournament suffered a near setback in its second year as sponsors had to reduce money due to the financial meltdown. “Only the love of softballers for their sport took us through the hard times. Despite the reduced prize money, they still came forth and expressed willingness to play in the tournament and we made it through,” Mabote said in an interview.
He reckons that with the sponsorship value having gone up, the LOC expects to see much tougher competitions throughout this year’s tournament.
Of the 28 teams due to take part in this year’s tournament, 12 will be ladies teams while 16 will be men’s.
For the first time since inception, three of the teams due to take part in the tournament, two men and one ladies team, will be from South Africa. “We want to improve this tournament; hence we invited strong teams from South Africa to be part of the tournament. We had initially invited two men and two ladies teams but the other ladies’ team failed to come due to financial problems,” the tournament LOC further added.
To accommodate the large number of teams taking part in the tournament, Mabote says they have secured five playing grounds, something which is expected to alleviate the congestion of games in a single pitch. Off the softball pitches, Mabote says they will also have voluntary HIV/AIDS testing and counselling centre in order to spread the war against AIDS.
For her part, BSA competitions coordinator, Kelebogile Ditsele, described the tournament as one of the biggest and most important in the BSA calendar of events. The BSA competitions coordinator says barring the financial rewards, the tournament tests the players’ mental and physical fitness as they are impelled to play many games in a few days.
“This tournament is also used to train officials of the BSA. We will have a two days’ umpires’ starting this Tuesday and they will have to do their practical at the tournament before they can be accredited,” Ditsele added. To ensure that all BSA affiliates are accommodated, Ditsele says they have agreed that the Majoboge Softball Challenge should be an open tournament so that all affiliates willing to participate can do as such, something which already shows as a record breaking 28 teams are to participate, a big number compared to the usual eight teams. The men’s teams will play in four groups of four teams per group while the ladies teams will be divided into four groups with three teams per group.
The winners of the tournament will win P10 000 while the runners up will get P7 500. The main Sponsor of the tournament is Majoboge Construction, with an amount of P70 000, while other sponsors are Botswana Softball Association, Wells Softball Club, Jwaneng Mine, Puma Energy, Shabba Commo, Dlamini Investment, Fluor and Woo International.