Monday, March 8, 2021

Matlho Kgosi – It’s all about safe and inclusive sports for the girl child

Growing up, Women and Sport Botswana (WASBO) chairperson Matlho Kgosi had affinity to only two things, sport and academics.

Like many who found their life and big break in sport, Kgosi is among many who are proud to call sport their first love. 

She stands as one of many whose life has been altered by sport and made her who she is today. 

Kgosi says she ‘was born in a family that is inclined to sport.’ Her mother played tennis while her father played golf. 

With the parents so immersed in sports, it is no little wonder that she and her sisters followed in their footsteps and played sport.

For the current Woman and Sport Botswana (WASBO) Chairperson, her journey in sport began at the age of 6 years. 

Taking after her mother, she played tennis and at the age of 8 years, she was registered at Notwane Tennis Club. 

It was at Notwane that the young Kgosi thrived, competing at age 8 until she left tennis at age 21. 

During the time, she managed to represent the country and she had the privilege of being part of the 5th All Africa Games held in Egypt. 

Not long after ditching tennis, Kgosi says she picked up Badminton and through it, she was able to represent the country at the World University Games which were held in Switzerland. 

“Growing up I only knew love to be in two forms, sport and school, I never had time for other things as my focus was only on these two,” she reminisces.

“Sport kept me and my siblings from the streets and we only got to know certain things when we were already old as our parents where always with us at tournaments,” Kgosi states. 

Through these experiences, the WASBO president came to realise how the power of sport shapes the future of young people.

Most importantly, this would lead her to WASBO as she sought to let the girl child experience the joy of safe sport and inclusion as she had. Looking back to where she comes from, she has never been subjected to any ill or abuse in her days in sport and the same safety she enjoyed she wishes to pass on and make a safe haven for the girl child. 

“I have always carried the inclusion of the girl child in sport in my heart alongside her safety,” she says.

“WASBO has made my desires a bit easier of giving a girl child a chance of participation and leadership,” she declares.

Kgosi got her big break into WASBO when Grace Muzila was appointed chairperson in 2014 and she was elected one of the additional members of the committee.

Over those years, she got to understand and appreciate the role of WASBO as she also rose through the ranks to lead the organization.

Now as the chairperson of WASBO, Kgosi has set targets on helping the organization to reach its mandate of making sport safe and inclusive for the girl child.

Asked how people will know her legacy when she leaves, she says her wish is that her work will speak for her.

Hers, she says, is to encourage the youth to cherish and nature their talents and gifts and to allow passion to move them. 

She also seeks to help WASBO harness the power of the media to help change the negative attitudes of people towards women in sports.

And already, these efforts are showing. WASBO Marketing and Public Relations officer Thulaganyo Retshabile credits Matlho as the first chairperson to develop a solid relationship with the media.

Retshabile says Kgosi views the media as an important stakeholder who they need to work hand in hand with to create awareness on issues affecting the girl child in sport. 

“For a long time WASBO has not been close to the media, under Matlho’s leadership we see a development of a relationship with the media. This is one of the achievements WASBO obtained through her,” she says.

Retshabile says as a leader, Kgosi is inclusive and provides inspiration and guidance, adding that she nurtures the strengths and talents of individuals building teams to achieve goals. 

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