Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe has said that he hopes the economic environment continues to improve to enable corporate entities to play an increasingly significant role in the development of sport across the spectrum.
He added that despite budgetary constraints, the P67 million government allocated to sport in the 2012/2013 financial year holds catalystic potential for economic development and diversification, adding that the Government, therefore, appreciates private and other stakeholder contributions as the public sector alone can never be enough to drive sport development in Botswana.
Kedikilwe said this on welcoming and congratulating the Team Botswana that participated in the 30th Olympiad in London at a dinner held in their honour in Gaborone.
“I place on record the Government’s gratitude to all corporate sponsors who have supported not only the Olympic Team, but many other sporting activities and programmes in the country,” Kedikilwe said. “Sport is no longer just fun and games, but has become a globalized multi-billion dollar industry generating wealth and employment for various individuals, organizations and countries.
Since the sporting sector also promotes health and fitness, creates jobs and wealth for Batswana, we need to build synergies with other sectors such as tourism to consolidate economic gains. “We can also get our fair share of this cake through meticulous planning, hard work and teamwork to serve national interest in line with our National Vision 2016 goals of building: ‘An Innovative and Productive Nation’ as well as ‘United and Proud Nation’. As these goals are achievable, we will need to benefit from the achievement.”
The Vice President said that eighteen-year-old Nigel Amos’ winning of the Olympic Silver Medal for obtaining 2nd position in the men’s 800m category, is a first in the country’s sporting history worth celebrating. He added that this, as well as sterling performances falling just short of medal status by other Team Botswana athletes such as Amantle Montsho, Isaac Makwala and Oteng Oteng, vindicates the Government’s decision through the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture to work in concert with the Ministry of Education and Skills Development to establish Centres of Sport Excellence (CSE) in designated secondary schools.
He said that when fully functional, CSEs would ensure development of teacher/coaches and athletes without causing major disruptions to academic programmes as most development and training would take place in the school environment.
“All critical stakeholders should support the Centres to ensure the success of the noble initiative through equal improvement of facilities and training programmes on offer. Although we should strive to groom athletes capable of taking over the baton from the current Team Botswana, we should avoid falling into the trap of over-celebrating outstanding athletes and teams to a point of failing to develop prospective sportspersons.
“Let us start planning for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Nigel’s silver medal, courtesy of, among others, the Botswana Primary Schools Sports Association, Botswana Integrated sports Association and the Botswana Athletics Association has given us direction on where to look for our future stars and impetus for future success.”
Kedikilwe appreciated the Botswana National Olympic Committee, the Botswana National Sports Council and coaches as comprising the bed-rock of excellence that made Botswana obtain the first Olympic medal since the first participation in 1980.