The Botswana sports landscape is expected to change drastically this Saturday when the watershed, Botswana National Olympic Committee elects new leadership in Gaborone. As things stand, there is no clear favourite to succeed long time BNOC president Negroes Kgosietsile, who announced he would not be contesting for the seat this time around.
The five presidential candidates could not be more different, which makes the 2017 elections even more intriguing. Nevertheless, local sports industry observers and sports lovers at large have raised concerns over the unprecedented number of candidates standing for the BNOC executive committee elections. The eclectic candidates vying for the presidential seat include, Ookeditse Malesu. The former military man is the last candidate to enter the race. However, it did not come as a surprise after he lost to Kgosietsile in the last elections.
A no nonsense sports administrator, Malesu brings a lot of experience to his campaign. The ambitious sports administrator has worked for the Botswana Karate Association (BOKA), Botswana Swimming Sports Association (BSSA) and recently Malesu had a short spell at the Botswana Football Association. His multi sport code experience will come in handy against the tough competition.
On the other hand is Botsang Tshenyego, another military man who comes with a huge advantage. Tshenyego is an insider having served under Kgosietsile for the past few years. Tshenyego clearly has an advantage to succeed the outgoing president. He is clearly aware of the strings he needs to pull and the inner workings of the BNOC.
Another interesting candidate in the unpredictable race is Tebogo Lebotse Sebego, the current president of the Botswana Netball Association (BONA). Sebego was a rather shock addition to the race. She has also brought along a new angle to the race, as all of her compaigning team is women Sebego is a shrewd administrator and an over achiever who recently brought the 2017 Netball Youth World Cup (NYWC) to local shores. Sebego is buoyed by this great achievement going into the race.
Moreover, the shrewd sports leader who has led BONA for the better part of the past decade, knows how to pick a team that is built around her vision and goals. Former national team boxer and Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) hall of fame France Mabiletsa comes into the race with an impressive resume. In a recent interview with BG Sports, Mabiletsa outlined his plan for the BNOC and it was quite simply aligned to elite athletes with elite sports administrators.
Mabiletsa has been part of one of the most successful amateur boxing stables in the country, being UB/Tsholofelo boxing club for over a decade. Mabiletsa is also no stranger to the BNOC having been assigned as Chef de mission at one of the recent Commonwealth games. Mabiletsa believes that having been an athlete, a coach and a sports administrator gives him leverage over his competitors. Daniel Molaodi enters the race with another impeccable resume. Molaodi made his bones in the Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF). For the past decade Molaodi has held a leadership position in the BVF as the sport code went from strength to strength. The BVF ran a successful league until recently, losing their league sponsor Mascom Wireless.
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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