Saturday, January 22, 2022

Tough times beckon for Motor Sports in Botswana

Local motorsport enthusiasts are in for a tough time as the decimation of their ‘self allocated’ motorsport ground in Mmopane has begun.

The plot, which has been used by the local motorsport to host its competitions, is now under development, something which will leave the sport with no grounds to host events in the vicinity of Gaborone.

The latest development means the Botswana Motor Sports Association now has to run helter-skelter to try and find an alternative and permanent home in the near future where it can host its events.

Motor Sport, which is one of the fastest growing and most popular, thanks to events like the Kalahari 1000 km Desert Race, is faced with lack of facilities, just like many other sporting codes in the country, is faced with lack of facilities, more especially playing fields.

Speaking in an interview with Standard Sport, the president of the Botswana Motorsport Association, Dr Pearl Dijeng Lebatha, said lack of proper facilities and grounds is the single most pressing challenge faced by her association.

“We are currently working with the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC), to whom we are affiliated to try and find a suitable ground to develop and make it our permanent home,” Lebatha said in an interview. She says the lack of grounds is hindering motorsport’s growth as they are at the moment not focussing fully on motor sport in its full spectrum but only on a few like cars, bikes and quads while others like carting are sidelined.

She says should they get their own permanent grounds to develop, they will then focus on other aspects of motor sport including driver training to help make the sport more professional and safer.

Dr Lebatha also says the acquisition of a permanent home will do wonders for the sport’s growth as new clubs are coming up and old ones are reawakening. The Motor Sports association president is also optimistic that the acquisition of land will bode well for youngsters who have bikes and quads as they will have a safe place to play with their toys under proper facilities, something which will avert accidents.

Lebatha sentiments are shared by Gaborone Motorsport Club (GMC) chairman, Kevin Branch who underlined lack of facilities as a major challenge facing motor sports in the country.

Branch says with the growing number of clubs and a big fan base, the sport now needs its own facilities and identity to stop moving from place to place when development encroaches. He says when motorsport first came to Botswana almost thirty years ago, the sport used the space between the current Central Business District (CBD) and the Ministry of Health but later moved to Mmopane which is now currently under construction.

Branch lauded the formation of the Dr Lebatha led Motor Sports Association, saying it will bring better organisation to the sport. He expressed hope that the country will have an association which is independent of South Africa and which can affiliate to international and continental bodies to give local drivers a chance to drive under the flag of Botswana.

Branch says there is potential for Motor Sport to grow as Batswana are very enthusiastic of the sport; evidence of which he says is the Toyota 1000km Desert Race.

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