Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Maybe Botswana should naturalise foreign sports persons

Undoubtedly, many countries are benefiting from naturalising expatriates to improve sports.
Countries leading in this practice are mainly in the Middle East and the process is proving to be paying dividends because most of those countries are nowadays easily recognised in major international events.

Such countries loosen their immigrants’ laws and provide incentives to the concerned players.

In Botswana, it has not been heard of that the country had adopted skilled sports personnel to uplift sports.
Botswana is not a big sporting nation on the world stage. In the past, there have been talented foreign players who did not play for their native countries despite the incredible talent they possessed.

Others, upon realising that Botswana was not giving them much needed attention, decided to move elsewhere.

Botswana’s national team, the Zebras, have been struggling for a long time, especially upfront, but there have been excellent foreign strikers, including the likes of the late Joseph Chikoti (Township Rollers), Edison Mulubwa, Francis Chisenga (Gunners) and Masauso Tembo (Notwane). Chikoti’s killer instincts emerged immediately after he arrived in the country. Within three years, he has signed for South African club, Wits University.

He ended up returning to Botswana years later and is buried in the country.
Tembo, on the other hand, was a student in Botswana and showed his prowess at Notwane when he was still a young boy. It can be remembered that when Notwane were a force to reckon with in African club competitions in 1995, Tembo was the leading figure upfront. He ended up being signed by a club in the United Arab Emirates and immediately featured for the Zambian national team, alias Chipolopolo.

Even within the coaching fraternity, there are some foreign coaches in Botswana with invaluable experience but still considered foreigners. Some of them even played football in Botswana and still coach in the country. Some of them are seen as a solution to national youth teams because, tactically, they are a bit above the locals who are always given a chance.

For instance, Stanley Mwaanga of BDF XI, Peter Muchina of Nico United and Shammie Hunidzarira were playing in Botswana before venturing into coaching.

Ezekile Mpofu and Clever Hunda have also coached in the country for close to two decades and imparted invaluable coaching experience to many Botswana players.

Some of the players they mentored at their respective teams are currently good coaches. Some of them are Daniel Nare of Extension Gunners and Sthandwa Mogwadi, formerly of Police XI.
Gunners coach, Daniel ‘Chicco’ Nare, says that naturalisation of foreign sports personnel is a must for Botswana.

He said that once it is done, it will accelerate sports development in the country.

“Why is the United States of America so successful in basketball and athletics? It is because most of their good players are from outside America. They are mainly from Africa, especially West Africa, from countries like Senegal and Nigeria. The immigration laws in America are tight but when it comes to those sports personnel that are good, they are flexible. That should be the case in Botswana. With the new ministry of sports maybe things will be critically looked at,” he said. Nare added that currently neighbouring South Africa’s national soccer team is suffering but there is an abundance of foreign talent that is untapped. He said, just like America, South Africa could be one of the leading sports nations in the world.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.