Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Masisi pays lip service to Botswana’s sporting excellence

During the recent State of The Nation Address (SONA) by Botswana President Mokgwetsi Masisi, sport was but just a side note.

An ode to veteran runner Isaac Makwala. A shout out to professional boxer Steven Bagwasi. A word of praise for rising track star Letsile Tebogo. A congratulatory message to the women’s senior football national team, ‘the Mares.’ This was all there was on sport in the SONA.

Whereas all the above had done supremely well, many felt the SONA left much to be desired. Whereas his previous SONA raised hope for sport, this year’s SONA had nothing. Sport received just a cursory mention.

In the previous year’s SONA, the President went all out appreciating the efforts sport was doing in improving the livelihood of people. He touched on the country’s effort to commercialise and professionalise sport through investments. In a country where youth unemployment is high and sport is the youth’s biggest potential employers, hope was he would once again touch on this point.

President Masisi went on to make a breakdown of finances the government used in aiding sport, he touched on sport infrastructure and how it would be improved and concluded with appreciating the private sector for stepping in through their financial support.

Many anticipated the President to go further in his deliberations concerning sport just as previously. Particularly, while appreciating athletes, to also give direction to the youth in sport the necessary encouragement needed for them to excel like the mentioned athletes. Gratitude seemed just but enough, leaving many disappointed.

Kabelo Boranabi, sport journalist, in his view of the SONA said the President should have looked to the future in his address to sport. “As any other sector, sport can help boost the economy while incorporating other sectors such as tourism. Sport should be considered as one of the important priorities as it deals with youth,” he said.

One of the many issues in sport is the bid for hosting AFCON 2027 themed ‘BONA 2027’. The question that rose in many was why the bid was not mentioned. Despite the silence regarding BONA 2027, Boranabi holds firm that the bid is still on as there are no signs that suggest otherwise.

“For the bid not to be mentioned does not mean it has been called off. However, has President Masisi spoke about it; it would have given hope to those in the football fraternity. I believe he could have given an update at least on how the government is backing the bid,” he said.

On the other hand, football analyst, Jimmy George believes moving in silence regarding the bid can relieve pressure looking at the state of our football. Adding that silence could have been a calculated move however the bid could well be alive.

“We would be fooling ourselves if we think starting the league late and playing without a sponsor would go unnoticed by the rest of the continent. If anything, it was a smart move to keep silent on AFCON bid preparation given the chaotic state of our league,” George pointed out.

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