BY ANITA RANNOBA
While many Batswana graduates hold on to dear life after completion of tertiary education standing on the edge to receive that life transforming calling ‘You have been hired’, two native Batswana men took a different route.
They chose to use their qualifications to make a living for themselves to bring employment to impoverished Batswana in the streets.
Back in 2012 two Physical Education, Health and Recreation students from the University of Botswana, namely Simon Tshwaane and Sydney Seabo come together after their completion of school established a swimming academy in line with what they have studied.
With an already existing aperture in the market of swimming which was for the high end market, the operations manager, Solomon Mpusetsang, said fortunetly for Propellers swimming academy they discovered a niche in the market and set its mandate to making swimming affordable to an ordinary Motswana.
Being the first of its kind to be established by native Batswana, Mpusetsang noted that it was not a walk in the park trying to fit into a white dominated sport.
“It was not easy as swimming is white dominated, the brains of this academy found nothing in place for them so they set structures which were favourable to them as well as making the sport affordable in order for an ordinary Motswana to afford it,” he said.
Highlighting that with the availability of the alcove in the market, the pioneers faced threats to a point where they were being blocked from almost all facilities as they had monopolised.
“All gyms are taken and even top private schools in Gaborone but we however found residence at Broadhurst Primary School, who we highly appreciate their assistance,” said Mpusetsang.
In addition to their troublesome journey with the establishment of the academy in their mother land, after establishment in 2012, it took them four years until they can fully operate.
Explaining that it takes long to build a swimming academy as well as to define your philosophy adding that when they started they did not have a proper structure in place hence almost everyone was doubtful that they would really make it.
Despite the hurdles, he says he is happy with how Batswana have been supportive as they a growing consistently since 2016 adding that they are trying hard to retain athletes they have so as to help define their philosophy.
Highlighting that the academies that have over 15 years will always get preference as for them their growth is limited by lack of facilities that can be used all year round.
In his words, as one of the pioneers of Propellers Swimming Academy, Tshwaane said swimming is an expensive sport on its own which for Batswana do not really consider that much. In order to bring their dreams to reality they come across a series of hardships which involved educating the nation about swimming, finances as well was not enough for them to carry out their mission but even so they never let their dreams die.
“Before the idea of having this academy come to live, I and my partner used to swim at the university pool when we were first years along the way he stopped and I continued as I found joy in assisting people in the pool. That is how I was driven to be a coach and letter got a licence for it. Which latter on Seabo joined me. Things we very hard for us as we ended up using our allowance money to finance our dreams,” he said.
With the thought that their trouble were over after the established and the running of the academy, Tshwaane and Seabo then realized the reality of the sporting code they have joined.
“I thought we had been welcomed with open arms from the academies which we found running. We were not a threat when we began as we did not know much about the sport but with the massive growth we are experiencing we have just learned the true colours of the sport. They are really trying to pull us down with everything they have even though we are against the wall we will not stop what we started,” emotional Tshwaane said.
Highlighting that they only want to empower Botswana and also encourage others to join them and open such academies as well. Adding that from less than a year in the sport, they have managed to employ about 12 people so far.