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Steeped in sport

Steeped in sport

The colonel calls the shots

Earlier this month, Colonel Botsang Tshenyego retained his seat as Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) President, winning 14 of the 25 votes on offer – ironically, it was one less than the 15 he received when ascending to power back in 2017!

The Mathangwane-born administrator has a long and proud history with the BNOC, having served as Vice President and then Senior Vice President before his rise to the very top.

Tshenyego’s love affair with sports management began on the army’s tennis courts and dates back to the early 90s when he managed the BDF’s tennis club.

By 2003, the Colonel was serving as Executive Secretary for the International Military Sports Council (CISM), responsible for Eastern and Southern Africa and reporting to Brussels, Belgium.

Fresh from victory at the polls, in this interview Tshenyego reflects on the past and ponders the future.

Steeped in sport

WINNERS: Tshenyego and his team

Congratulations on retaining your seat as the BNOC President. What does this honor mean to you?

The win for me is a vote of confidence.

It shows I did well in terms of leading the team to deliver its mandate and targets for the past four years.

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In fact, your whole team was elected into power – where do you think you won the elections?

I should think it was the promise of stability and consistency in terms of pursuing the core mandate of the BNOC.

During campaigning, we met all the candidates, shared with them our vision and at the end of the day, they trusted our team to lead them.

The new board contains a record high four women, what is your take on this?

The victory of women is a result of long term plans to empower women in sport leadership and ensure that we live to our promise of gender equality.

This is in line with our strategy and of the International Olympic Committee road map and strategy agenda 2020 and the current one, 2020 plus five.

We have been very consistent in terms of empowering them to ensure they are confident and prepared to take up leadership responsibilities.

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Exactly what does this ‘empowerment’ involve?

It has been our long term programme and our stakeholders locally and internationally.

We have different levels of empowerment programmes to ensure that we level the terrain.

Education and training is one of the major ones that we continue to embark on and create conducive environment for women to partake.

Break it down for us, precisely what does your role as President involve?

As President you wear many hats.

You are the Chairman of the board; you are responsible for the development of the strategy and policy.

Leadership is not universal but situational, so what you do depends on the situation.

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You also have to motivate and build a strong team that will drive the mandate of the committee.

And what is BNOC’s mandate?

Our mandate is derived from the Olympic charter which clearly states that our job is to protect and promote Olympism in our various areas of jurisdiction.

The charter focuses on three pillars: sport, culture and education and the environment.

We are not just a sport organisation but promote and protect Olympic spirit.

We use sport to deliver different development agendas and to impact social change in communities.

Sport just happens to be the most popular and attractive to the general population but our mandate is broader than that.

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What would you say are some of your biggest achievements from your first four years in office?

Generally we measure ourselves through the performance of our athletes, especially on international level.

For the past four years, despite some challenges, there has been many successes in terms of Olympic performance and Commonwealth in 2018.

It is something that one can be happy and proud about.

On the other end of the spectrum, what are the main challenges you have faced?

Challenges mark the terrain between your ambition and success – therefore you cannot remove challenges from any pursuit of excellence.

Mostly it is lack of funds for the projects that would help expedite the achievement of our goals and objectives as per our strategy.

For us to host major events, there has to be certain levels of infrastructures that we should have.

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What are your views on a possible merger between BNOC and BNSC?

The issue of a merger means different things but at the moment the model that we are discussing is not a merge.

Every model, however, has its merits and demerits.

There are some advantages, like single affiliation by the federations to one body.

The rest, I will not talk much about as the process is on-going so I will see where consultations and negotiations are taking us.

Talking of success stories, one of the biggest achievements from this year’s Olympics was weightlifter, Magdeline Moyengwa’s participation. However, although she is just 20, the Mazazuru athlete looks set to quit sport over issues of culture – do you plan to try and change her mind?

You may be aware it has not been smooth sailing to get to where she got.

I want to give credit to the Weightlifting Federation for them to have reached the Olympic stage.

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Going forward may be difficult but I know they have done their best to retain her back to their programmes in the past.

We currently are working with the federation to see if anything can be salvaged but it is not going to be easy.

We appreciate social circumstances around the athlete and we have to respect them.

Botswana has been competing in the Olympics since 1980, winning a silver and bronze in that time. Where do you think we are lacking and what needs to be done to win more medals?

I cannot say as the country we have been doing badly.

There are countries that are so prominent in sport that only got their first Olympic medal in Tokyo, like Burkina Faso for example.

Yes we are ambitious but we are amongst the successful countries in Africa.

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What does it take for one to be a great leader?

There is no formula to say if you bring these tools you succeed.

The mission is never the same nor the operating context.

Leadership is situational, of course there will be certain personal attributes that will ensure you have the dynamism to understand and appreciate the context and be able to adapt and create solutions at the time.

Good leaders from different environments have been thrown into deep ends in other environments and have not demonstrated the same level of success they did previously.

Who is your inspiration?

What inspires me is where I am in life and the environment I find myself in.

You can be inspired by someone younger than you in a field where they can mentor you and succeed.

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There are leaders that I look up to in sport and politics.

What advice can you give to aspiring young leaders in sports?

You can learn and be groomed to be a leader.

For you to continue to be a relevant leader, you must continue to grow and learn.

You can never know enough. One of the challenges we have in sport is transition, like from being an athlete to being an administrator.

It is important to align and develop yourself continuously to ensure you remain relevant to emerging opportunities of leadership.

Finally, Thank God It’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?

Weekends are for sports but I always make sure I try to balance sport and other life demands.

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