The Botswana netball youth team, which is due to represent the country at the Netball World Youth Cup, has received a timely shot in the arm from mining giants Debswana.
On Thursday, Debswana revealed a P1.2 million sponsorship for the netball youth team to help it prepare for the games, which will be held in Gaborone from July 8 to 19 this year.
The sponsorship came as part of a P4,2 million sponsorship by the company towards both netball and the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) flagship grassroots sports development programme, “Re Ba Bona Ha”.
Officiating at the sponsorship launch, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng, thanked Debswana for “showing interest in the development of sports from the grassroots level”.
He described sport as a multi-million Pula industry that can create employment for the youth and encouraged other companies to consider sponsoring.
Olopeng said the monies will go a long way to help the Botswana Netball World Youth Cup team in its preparations for the upcoming games.
Managing Director of Debswana, Balisi Bonyongo said Debswana believed in turning diamond dreams into lasting reality, hence the belief in sponsoring athletes with potential at grassroots level.
Botswana Netball Association (BONA) president Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego welcomed the Debswana sponsorship which she said was a “very good start” towards the team’s preparations.
“When we negotiated the sponsorship, Debswana wanted to know the holistic plan of our preparations for the games. When they agreed to sponsor, they were also very clear on what the monies should be used for,” said Lebotse-Sebego.
The BONA president said as such, the money will mostly be used for the netball youth team’s international tour and camp, which is expected to take place sometimes around May and June. The team is expected to tour Australia, where some of its players are based.
With the tour aspect now sorted out, Lebotse-Sebego said they were working towards establishing more partnerships.
“We are currently negotiating with one local clothing company to come on board as our technical sponsor. We have not looked for international companies for this one as we felt we need a local brand,” she explained.
She said they have found a company that will provide physiotherapy for the team, while the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) has provided them with trainers.
With only the athletes’ welfare now the major stumbling block, Lebotse-Sebego said they were seriously engaging with other stakeholders and are confident a breakthrough will come.