Government must introduce national sport leaguesGovernment must introduce national sport leagues

25th April 2018
From me to you
Column

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By Joe-Brown -


Dear Ian Khama Hello Big Brother, I hope you have taken heed of your successor SisiBoy’s advice when he emphasised on the day of his inauguration that you should rest. I have not heard much of you since that April Fool's Day when I saw you in Parliament. You have also been missing on Btv News and it is something I am finding difficult to get used to. Even when they read the news and say ‘Tautona wa Botswana…’ I almost always complete the line in my head with your many names as they used to read them. I don’t know what it is with names that you guys find fascinating after you become presidents. I remember we used to just call you Brigadier Ian Khama, but the moment you stepped into the presidential enclave your names increased to be read ‘Seretse Khama Ian Khama’. Now I see your successor is trying the same.

Since that April Fool’s Day he has been on and on about the Keabetswe and Eric names we never knew existed. You are not like Quett and LeFesto. For Quett it was actually the opposite. Before he became President, we knew him to be Dr. Quett Ketumile Joni Masire, but after the presidency, it was just Sir Ketumile Masire. Even your dad was just Sir Seretse Khama. There was nothing like Sir Seretse Goitsebeng Maphiri Khama even as they were all his names. But I guess with SisiBoy the Btv personnel decided to stop with these many names. Nowadays they don’t say out all them. I wonder if it was by instruction from OP. Akere wena OP wrote a statement to tell us how to call out your names – Lieutenant General Doctor Seretse Khama Ian Khama, they said. Oh Modimo! I hope the Office of the President does not dish out a similar directive soon. Imagine: His Excellency the President Mogweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi. Haikhona! It should just be President Mogweetsi Masisi, full stop! And maybe it is such confusion with names that has caused the expulsion of some journalists from work in Zambia. Just for not writing Masisi’s title correctly.

I wonder if he is aware something like that happened because of him. Anyway, enough about the long presidential names. I wrote this to you when I remembered gore kana you are the brain behind these Constituency Tournaments that have seen government spend well over P100million to run them. I have no issue with the tournaments as they are; and come to think of it, they have been a good thing to happen, especially for the talent in the nooks and crannies of Botswana where we never knew talent existed. My only gripe is on the rationalisation front, especially with the funding accorded the games when mainstream sport continues to suffer. You and I know Biggie, that as of 2018, government has spent over P140million on these constituency sport tournaments. You will actually recall that by 2016, as reported in Parliament by your blue-eyed boy Thapelo Olopeng, P125 million had been used. Remember again that some sporting codes were up in arms in 2010, two years after the constituency tournaments were introduced, after government reported having spent P18 million already.

On average over the last 10 years, government has spent about P15million annually on these sport tournaments which are merely meant for mass participation and not for real sport development. As you know, sport development responsibilities lie more with the national sports commission than with those nonentities that preside over these constituency games. The tournaments kana tsone tota ke ko ga mmapereko fela, and all they are interested in there is winning at all costs. They cheat, they fight and as reported in a recent case in Lobatse, teams fight over traditional doctors who provide them with portions to aid their cause. They have no time for development or to teach the sport as is the case with mainstream sport administrators. You will also note that at your Constituency Tournaments, there is barely any age restriction, bomdala ba kopana le bana ke tlhakantshuke ya moroko le mase. In the end tota Big Brother, there is no real return on investment except to sponsor even more social ills through the prize money given.

While I acknowledge that some smarter groups and even individuals have used the money to start small business enterprises, the majority of the teams have ended up engaging in beer binging and partying, with the money doing very little to raise the sport profile or even the individual lives of these masses. I have heard you before arguing, along with your boy Tapza that the tournaments were aiding mass participation in sport and were helping keep the youth and bomdala away from crime. Yet it is at these games that some criminal activities take place. Some police reports in the past have shown that criminal activities take place during the games festivals while some of the team ‘owners’ have fought over the prize money. Some of these team ‘owners’ have even gone behind the backs of their players to fund some dimausunyana that would later sell back to these teams at huge profits.

Smart guys have found an intelligent way of raising their personal profile using the money from there. It is for this reason that really, government cannot even account for the money because the level of monitoring there is almost zero. You have only created a way of making some individuals rich while those who play benefit little. It is worse that these games now involve players who were part of the mainstream sport bodies that ironically, can’t match the money power at your tournaments. Kana with mainstream sports, one has to account and there are other structures to fund within the codes. So money never really reaches the players. Mainstream netball and volleyball at the moment have no running leagues, and it gets worse when they have no money to splash around the way it is done at the constituency tournaments. Yet there are no development structures to fund ko Ian La Liga; no training programmes to fund; no salaries to pay; it is a free for all where the smartest survive and make it in life. I know you are out of it now, but I would love to propose that you go back to the drawing board to determine how best the P15million spent per annum at these tournaments can be used to benefit the country better. All you have to do is sit with Sisiboy and Tapza to review this with a view to adding value.

I do not have immediate answers but for now I am thinking that since the money has been targeting only soccer, volleyball and netball, with athletics a late bloomer, a little subtraction of about P4 million per annum would benefit mainstream sport. Think about it. Let’s say we keep to the same budget but reduce spending on Constituency Tournaments by that P4 million. The same targeted sport codes would benefit better if the P4million per annum could be channeled to mainstream sport. Then government could commit only P1million annually for the National Netball League run by the Botswana Netball Association, P1 million for the National Volleyball League run by Botswana Volleyball Federation, and P2million for the two National First Division leagues run by BFA. Trust me Big Brother, these sporting codes would do wonders to produce internationally acclaimed stars as there would be organised sporting activity throughout the year. Sponsors would then flood the clubs to bankroll them.

The grants already being given to the sports commission would be maintained to run development programmes for these codes without worrying about lack of competition. As it is now, BNSC spends money on developing athletes, coaches, referees and managers… and for what? Then there are no running competitions where what has been learnt could be implemented and practised. The result is a situation where money is being poured into a bottomless pit. We would have the available corporate entities focus on specific areas of the sport that could enhance competition. I was in South Africa recently Biggie, where I watched the volleyball national league where government is the sole sponsor to the tune of R3million annually.

They do it for other sport codes deemed small in that country. The buzz there is exciting, and all around are banners of various government departments showcasing government business. Sponsors here and there are for incentive tournaments like Top 4 or Top 8. The money the BNSC would use for development would not be put to waste. They teach, and there is a platform to assess the results of their spending. This in turn will see more teams joining from these rural areas to play in the national league, with every player having an opportunity to be spotted by national team selectors. As it is now Big Brother, these many players at constituency tournaments can’t even make it to the national team despite noticeable talent on some, because rules governing the tournaments do not allow them to also participate in mainstream leagues.

The P4million would thus go a long way in ensuring even wider participation with an assurance of sponsorship every year, where potential national and international stars would not run to the constituencies where no one will see them. And now that Athletics have been thrown into the Constituency Tournaments mix, the money could go to P5million per annum, to allow Botswana Athletics Association to run P1million worth of competitions as well. Come on Biggie, you know SisiBoy can’t change anything without your blessings; Tapza ene listens and does everything you say without question, so once you have spoken, we can be assured they will act.




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