The Minister for Youth Sports and Culture has warned the sports fraternity that his ministry was not created as a panacea of sports. Speaking at a function on Thursday evening to bid farewell to Botswana’s All Africa Games team, Major General Moeng Pheto said the Ministry is just an important component of all the factors necessary for facilitating the growth of sports in a given country.
“While we see the creation of the Ministry as a positive development that is important for accelerating our way to the top in the field of sport, I need to caution that the establishment of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture has never been a panacea of sports in any country. I, therefore, challenge leaders of sports in this country at all levels to continue doing their part in carrying our sport forward. I can assure you that my Ministry will give all the support needed,” he said.
Pheto also called on the athletes to put Botswana on the map by bringing many medals from the tournament as was the case in the last games. He said at the 2003 games, Botswana recorded the highest number of medals which were eleven. At the 2003 games, Botswana also made history by winning their first ever gold medals amounting to four. The gold medals were won in the fields of 400 by 400 relay team and karate.
Minister Pheto also called on the athletes to at least bring home twenty medals, which is the target set by the Botswana National Sports Council.
Pheto also congratulated Botswana’s national Under 23 team for their heroic performance at the just ended Sasol Under 23 tournament in South Africa. In the finals, Cameroon knocked out Botswana by a single goal. En route to the finals, Botswana beat big countries like Ghana and China. Pheto also said since China has invited the under 23 team to participate in another tournament, it is also a sign that football is improving tremendously in Botswana.
Botswana is sending the biggest ever team in its history for the upcoming 9th All Africa Games that start next week in Algiers, Algeria. Since Botswana first participated at the games in Nairobi Kenya in 1987, this year sees more athletes participating in more codes. For the first time, Botswana is sending athletes in disciplines such as Horse racing, swimming and volleyball.
Nevertheless, all eyes will be on athletics and karate because of their incredible achievement at the 2003 Games. The team that surprised many people was the 400 by 400 relay team that beat one of the world’s strongest teams, Nigeria. Since the Nigerian team dominated for years coupled with the fact that the games were held in the former, Botswana was regarded as the underdogs, but they surprised many people. Some of the team members of 2003, such as California Molefhe and Oganeditse Moseki, are still part of the team. Most of the current athletics team members do not have international experience, but the development officer of the Botswana Athletics Association, Bobby Gaseitsiwe, has since told Sunday Standard that experience does not count much. He said most local athletes that did wonders at the All Africa Games before were not relatively known and that could be the case this year. He emphasised that the team is full of youngsters who have great potential.
Another team that might cause havoc is boxing. The local boxers are the reigning Zone VI champions and might still prove a point at the games. At this year’s Zone VI tournament, they nearly swept all the medals but performed below average at the Africa Champions. Most boxers lamented inadequate training. Some of the boxers expected to do the country proud are Gomotsang Gaasite, Thato Batshegi and Herbet Nkabite.
The games start on July 11 and will end on the 23rd.