When Tsoseletso Magang woke up a day following her and her committee’s election to lead Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF), she would have asked herself many questions.
One such will be the one a lot of us ask themselves when we enter an uncharted territory; ‘what did we get ourselves into?’ But then, as former players, they know how to play pancake volleyball, the defensive art of going down on your hands to save a point or a game.
As the new president of the BVF, ‘Scud,’ as Magang was affectionately called during her days as a national team volleyball player and track and field athlete, knows she and her committee have their work cut out for them.
They take over a once blossoming sporting code that has seen its fortunes nose dive inexplicably over the past few years, so much it has fallen on hard times. Once a darling of Botswana sport with a vibrant league, BVF has not had an active league since parting ways with long time sponsors Mascom Wireless in 2018.
Now as Magang and committee roll their sleeves to resuscitate the fortunes of BVF, they know the next 100 days will be crucial. “In the next two weeks or so we should be putting up a road map of our first 100 days in office and our intensions as well,” she says.
But whatever roadmap they put forth in the next two weeks or so, they will understand nothing will be achieved without the life blood of sport, money. This is where their main challenge will be if they are to retain their best players.
“Our target is to get our athletes back on the courts and back to enjoy playing the sport. We have an advantage of having two sports, one being beach volleyball and another court volleyball,” she explains.
“I want us to use beach volleyball to bring in money. It will also ensure that our athletes make money which is something that has always been close to my heart. We have been running Kutlwano and paying accommodation for our athletes from our pockets, so I want to see our athletes gain some level of financial freedom which is at the top of my agenda. This goes out to all volleyball athletes, not just Kutlwano,” she says.
While players’ welfare and active participation will obviously be among top priorities, Magang and her committee are aware that this will not be possible without the involvement of capable officials and coaches. Magang intends on working on capacity building as a way of developing their administrators if they are to avoid the missteps which led to where volleyball is currently.
“I have come to understand and appreciate that majority of sport leaders who stopped playing just jumped into the administration of sport. Unfortunately, a good number of these people who jump from the field of play to administration do not even go on to pursue personal development in sport. I have always believed that it is one of the biggest contributors to us not growing our sport as should be. Yes, we are volunteering but once you put your hand it is because you believe you can make a difference not only to come in and follow the status quo,” she says.
She says at the end of her committee’s four-year tenure, she wants to leave volleyball with sports leaders who are trained for their job. She says this will make it easier for stakeholders, corporates and ordinary Batswana to support volleyball.
“People want to support sport. However, we always fail to engage them on how to support us. We know our sport and the product we have but we do not teach it to the outside world, something that needs to change urgently,” Magang says.
On the other hand, she pointed out the importance of having a league as a sport that survives on league tournaments. She says the league gives coaches a chance to develop their players and the federation time to develop coaches.
“When you have a league and when you put up a national team and it fails to compete to the core, it gives an indication that the level of the league is slow which also reflects on the ability of coaches we have,” Magang concludes.