From July 8 to 16 Botswana will host the Netball World Youth Cup 2017 (NWYC). The tournament is currently trending under the hashtag Reabaatsa and the official venues are Maru-a-Pula, Botswana National Youth Centre, University of Botswana Outdoor Courts and Ditshupo Hall.
While the objective should never be to sell the country or the sport of netball negatively from a local context, dialogue about the nation’s current burning issue of how ladies should dress in public cannot be excluded from this exciting sporting code where women play dressed in close to nothing.
As the nation ready themselves to welcome 240 skimpily dressed participants from all corners of the globe, one may wonder if the country’s reputation will not be dragged in the mud once again.
The concern stems from an incident during which a lady was stripped naked and ridiculed by a gang of ruthless men and women with insults characteristic of rape culture at the capital city’s bus rank, the busiest in the country. This horrid incident happened only two weeks ago and currently the nation is divided in opinion regarding the issue which one of the hooligans recorded and shared on social media.
During a media engagement exercise hosted by NWYC steering committee on Tuesday in Gaborone, the president of Botswana Netball Association Tebogo Lebotse-Sebogo assured journalists that security is at the top of her committee’s priority list.
“We have pulled all the stops to ensure the safety and security of the players every minute that they will spend in the country,” said a confident Lebotse-Sebego. She said at every point of the tournament the players will have tight security around them such that the public will not have access to them.
The concern in this case is not really about the security of the athletes as that has been completely taken care of, what is worrying is the safety of all other visitors who might want to take time out and see the city of Gaborone.
Netball is a sport of miniskirts and its enthusiasts often follow suit in dress. It should be taken into consideration that the international tournament will put in our streets women from all over the world who are not familiar with everyday dealings at the bus rank.
As it is the norm with any world cup, security is often focused solely around the stadiums or sporting grounds with very little attention given to other parts of the city. It should be expected that visitors might at some point use the bus rank to connect to other parts of the city like the Central Business District and shopping malls.
Currently Batswana are devided in sentiments about the critical issue; there are some who rubbished the incident and condemned the culprits. Some members of society, however, feel the victim deserved it and that she should have known better than to dress the way she did. The worry is that those attending the World Cup might not know the culture and for that reason could end up being victimised.