Riding the future
A moment of sporting history was made on Monday when Botswana Tertiary Students Sports Association (BOTESSA) and Botswana Brigades Sports Association (BOBSA) collaborated in their national qualifiers in the track and field events.
The events powered by First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) were in held in Francistown and Gaborone and were a precursor of what is to become when the two sporting codes finally merge.
Both BOTESSA and BOBSA have been mulling the idea of merging for a couple of years, and this past two days the two associations took a huge leap in ensuring that the dream becomes a reality.
BOTESSA is the umbrella body for all sports codes of the tertiary institutions of Botswana formed to provide organized sporting links amongst post secondary institutions in the country.
The sporting codes have as affiliates high institutions of learning, and all the technical institutions engaged in training out of school youth in Botswana make part of their affiliates.
BOBSA officially established in 1995 has been mandated by the Botswana Brigades governing body to run, organise, implement and evaluate various sports activities within the Brigades.
In this interview with Voice reporter Kabelo Dipholo, BOPSA Public Relations Officer Oabile Kgopa talks about the envisaged merger and what the future holds for Botswana sport.
Q. Good to finally see you.
I’m a bit exhausted from all the running around.
It has been a busy day, and thank you so much for your patience.
The pleasure is mine.
Q. It’s history in the making today; BOBSA and BOTESSA collaborating to deliver a two-day sporting event.
A. Indeed it is.
This is what we’ve all been waiting for, and today the leadership of both sporting codes has provided answers.
We’re yet to register because this involves some legal undertakings, but all in all we’re in the right direction and we believe soon the merger will be complete.
I have to reiterate that the merger has not been finalised so I’ve no authority to speak on behalf of BOTESSA, I can only speak for BOBSA, but I know my colleague from BOTESSA would have told you the same thing that the games were on point.
We’ve set the standard and we can only grow from this.
It’s history in the making and we’re going to ride on this for the future of local sport.
Q. Why do you believe this merger is necessary?
A. We’re looking at the future of our athletes post secondary school.
BOTESSA is already a member of international sports associations such as Confederation of University and Colleges Sports Associations (CUCSA), International University Sports Federation (FISU) and Federation of Africa University Sport (FASU).
It made sense for us to join them instead of trying to affiliate ourselves.
We also wanted to get rid of this redundancy because we’re basically doing the same thing, and I believe our merger will not stretch the already scarce government resources.
We were also concerned about a lot of talent that kept falling off through the cracks.
We’re bridging a gap to ensure that all the top talent is retained in the country.
This we also hope will be attractive to athletes.
We want them to take athletics seriously and that can be achieved if the association itself shows some seriousness, and I have no doubt in my mind that this week we proved to the naysayers that it can be done.
Two determined associations can come together and put the needs of athletes ahead of their political differences.
Q. What else to you believe will be achieved through this merger?
A. So much is going to be achieved.
Through this merger, we can start establishing schools of excellence.
Tutume Brigade can be turned into a volleyball centre, while Limkokwing could be our base for track athletes.
There’re a whole lot of opportunities coming, and all these will benefit athletes, and as BOBSA we’re really excited and looking forward to this merger.
Q. Take us back to your days as a teenager. Were you always into sports?
A. I’ve always been into sports.
I grew up in Francistown and at an early age I took up martial arts under the tutelage of Sensei Anthony.
I practiced Shotokan and Ninjitsu.
I also later played table tennis and volleyball.
In 2010 I became a Sports Master at NGETHU Brigade Centre in Gumare.
The name is made out of the five villages of Nokaneng, Gumare, Etsha, Tubu and Habu.
I later transferred to Shoshong Brigades where I teach students Accounting, Management and Business Law.
In 2020 I stood for elections and was voted to the BOBSA Executive Committee as its spokesperson.
Q. That’s impressive. How would you sum up the activities of the past two days in Francistown?
A. The qualifiers went well.
I was expecting challenges because sports associations in nature are political, but sports politics took the backseat as we delivered a perfect event, and I guess this was a taste of what lies ahead. We had track and field events, and already have identified some stars.
Five athletes have registered good times that qualifies them for FISU.
We are now getting ready to prepare for national finals, hopefully first week of April, and then from there, we are all going to look back at this week, as the day we saved local sport.
Q. Besides focusing on sport and churning numbers in the classroom, what else do you do?
A. I enjoy exercising.
I’ve formed an aerobics club in the school, and thats where I also spend most of my time, that as if I’m not hiking the Shoshong hills.
The aerobics club has become so popular in the village, and it is really pleasing to see more people taking fitness seriously.
Q. Thankyou so much for taking time to talk to us. However before we part, Thank God Its Friday (TGIF) what do you have planned for this weekend?
A. I’ll be home in Borolong this weekend.
I’ll be checking on my mother and other family members.
Like I said earlier I was raised in the Ghetto but I was born in Borolong, so this is a perfect time to check on my mother and unwind.