Olebile Kepaletswe is one mastermind behind Botswana Basketball and he aspires to see the sport reaching greater heights in the country. The passionate coach has been part of the Botswana Basketball Association (BBA) since 2004. Through his industry Kepaletswe has helped to form and nurture a total number of 20 basketball teams in the North Central district.
The basketball coach boasts of an impressive resume that includes FIBA Level 1 certificate, Zonal Coordinator (North Central), and refresher courses in coaching and officiating as well as coaching Central during Botswana Games amongst others. Some of Kepaletswe’s accolades include seven gold medals, two silver medals for girls’ team, one silver medal and two silver medals with the boys’ team at Boineelo Junior School between 2007 and 2016. Kepaletswe’s passion for the hoop game was ignited after he established the Tshwaragano CJSS basketball. Shortly after its formation the team qualified for the nationals. Nevertheless, Kepaletswe who is a teacher by profession, said there are some people in the sports industry who do not recognise Basketball as a serious sport. “Generally Botswana call it ball ya ma cat and perceive it to be expensive in terms of sneakers, therefore that somehow becomes a barrier for one champion out there not to utilise their talent,” he said.
Kepaletswe is of the view that most parents of Tswana medium schools do not really support Basketball players, adding that it poises the sport as being undermined. “The sport also lacks sponsorship to the extent that the league is not running since the teams are not able to meet some requirements,” he said. He stated that Basketball is the second most watched sport after football in the world and the second fastest sport after ice hockey, thereby if taken seriously in Botswana it can create better jobs for the young upcoming Basketball players.
Meanwhile the Botswana Basketball Association, Boineelo Hardy said that she really believes much in Kepaletswe because he has been in Basketball for a long time. In an interview this week, Hardy labelled him as a dedicated person in local basketball. “I am grateful for people like him because he is dedicated to the growth of Basketball. Just recently he was one of the coaches that were drafted into mobilising the three on three for fewer than 18 and as usual he is taking it on board.
They don’t even get paid but he definitely gives his time to Basketball and since he became a BISA coach in 2012, the team has always brought medals home.” Hardy said people like Kepaletswe offer inspiration and motivation for children in the sport. “They work for these activities to happen for children and not themselves. Without people like him Basketball would have a very hard time growing because we do not have enough funds to pay people to do it but he does it out of love and he does it well too,” explained Hardy. Through his skill, he has also collaborated with BDF 5 and organised an annual pre-season tournament and coaching clinic, while recruiting and helping upcoming coaches in Basketball.
He has also been a full time coach for BISA under 17 girls team for COSASA Games since 2012 to date. Kepaletswe’s dream is to see coaches and players of Basketball being sent to countries like The USA and Cuba to learn more. “It would also be ideal to at least send them to countries including Angola, Egypt, Tunisia or Senegal as these are some of the power houses of Basketball in Africa.” Kepaletswe is confident that Botswana teams will play better during the anticipated Zone VI Basketball Champions Cup to be held in Gaborone next month.
Local boxers ready for regional tourney
Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) this past Tuesday officially unveiled a Local Organising Committee (LOC) that has been tasked with preparing for the upcoming Zone 4 championships that are to be held in Botswana.
The team is headed by celebrated boxing legend France Mabiletsa and is expected to host more than seven countries that are expected to descend in Botswana in the next two weeks. Officiating at the event, Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Vice Chairperson Tsoseletso Magang said that BoBA officials should refrain from interfering with the task given to the LOC. She noted that many sporting codes often give the LOC the responsibility of delivering an event only for the code members to bully themselves into the affairs of the LOC and disrupts the preparations.
Magang warned that there is little time left before the tournament, and with that, the LOC will need all the support to ensure they deliver a successful event. She noted that hosting the regional tournament gave Botswana an upper hand of fielding more athletes that will have an opportunity to qualify for the Africa Championships scheduled for later this year.
For his part, Mabiletsa noted that they have already hit the ground running and confident that the event will be a success. The competition will be hosted in Botho College and they are in talks with Ave Maria to accommodate athletes. “Life will be made much easier for athletes if they are accommodated at Ave Maria because it is closer to the competition venue,” he said.
He explained that the zone is made up of 12 countries of Lesotho, Angola, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe among others. However as of this past Tuesday, only seven had confirmed participation and they expect to finalize the logistics by the end of the week.
Meanwhile, a formidable national boxing team of eight men captained by Mmusie Tswiiige (60kg) and three ladies led by Lethabo Modukanele (48kg) will represent the country at the regional tournament.
According to the Head coach Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza, the team has been on camp for the past three weeks. In his opinion, the team is ready to compete. “Generally, they are not bad, we need to work on a few things such as power and speed on some boxers, the defence department is also not bad,” he said.
Luza noted that Botswana has always established herself as a powerhouse and there is no doubt that majority, if not all team Botswana members will win a medal during competition time. He explained that the competition was one of the many leading to Tokyo 2020 Olympics and will give local boxers an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.
Branch does it again
Local motorcycle racing sensation Ross Branch has continued his stellar form after securing overall second position in the internationally renowned Merzouga Rally. The race came to a conclusion this past weekend and Branch has proven his mettle amongst some of the best rally motorcyclists in the world.
The podium finish is expected to take the Dakar Rally racer to even greater heights in the hugely competitive and expensive sport. It has been barely two months since the talented local rider emerged as a top class racer at the Dakar Rally where he finished 13 and walked away with the fastest rookie of the 10 000 km odyssey.
At Merzouga, things seemed a little better for the rider as the terrain offer sand and rock as opposed to the treacherous dunes in Dakar. Branch who was using a different navigation system in Morocco showed his pace after winning the fourth stage of the race last week Thursday.
Prior to his podium finish Branch said Merzouga was only his second rally and he was willing to learn from some of the top riders in the sport. The KTM 450cc rider said he was now setting his sights on other major races including the 2020 Dakar Rally that has been confirmed for Saudi Arabia.
Since returning from the Dakar, Ross has stayed busy and competed at the cross-country championship in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa, where he finished fourth. The local rider is expected to compete at the upcoming 1000 km Toyota Desert Race, an event he has won more than seven times.
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