When the winners were announced at the 34th annual Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) awards, the Botswana Cricket Association (BCA) left having written its name in bright lights. After years of hard work trying to establish cricket as a sport, their years of toil were finally rewarded.
The association won the Sport Code of The Year, a first for local cricket, while its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Girish Ramakrishna, went away with the Non Citizen Sports Administrator award.
While this was a night to remember for BCA, according to the BCA CEO, the night marked a milestone in a “long journey that has just begun.”
According to Ramakrishna, while the awards were humbling, they did not mean BCA had arrived where it wants to be. Speaking in an interview, Ramakrishna, who quit his job a year ago to concentrate on heading the BCA Secretariat on a fulltime basis, said the awards would only serve as motivation for the BCA in their endeavor to develop the game of cricket in the country.
“There is still much more to do and many areas to work on. At this moment, there is a growing need for us to be more competitive. We want to be very visible, not only locally but also regionally and internationally,” the BCA CEO explained.
With the number of kids playing the game now exceeding 11 000 and close to 200 schools now playing the sport, the growth in numbers has exceeded even the expectations of the BCA. Though this is a welcome progress, it has also brought with it challenges as there are not enough cricket facilities in the country.
Despite this problem, the BCA will not curb its desire to grow and has in fact now decided to spread to remote areas.
“We believe that this is part of nation building. We want to not only give the kids options of sport to play but we also seek to impart on them life skills through our programmes while also contributing to their health through sport,” the BCA CEO said.
He said as such, the BCA has now rolled its grassroots development programmes to areas such as Shadishadi in Kweneng as well as to Francistown border areas like Tshesebe.
With this growth in mind, the BCA is now starting its pilot project to establish School Sports Centres of Excellence where the young players can be nurtured further.
“We have already identified two schools, namely Phuthadikobo Primary School in Molepolole and Kgabo Sereto in Mochudi as the schools where to kick-start our project. Depending on the outcome of this, we will then start rolling out the programme to other regions across the country,” the BCA CEO explained.
The BCA is also looking at establishing regional competitions to encourage competition among their young cricketers.
Meanwhile, the BCA CEO said the association is also in the process of ensuring that cricket facilities become available in different areas where the sport is now played.
“At the moment, we make do with multipurpose facilities as they are available to us. We are however keen on having and developing our own facilities. We have already acquired a field at Kgabo Sereto and we are hoping that we will get others in future,” Ramakrishna said.