Botswana’s International Basketball Federation (FIBA) referee Dorothy Okatch says skill and talent are never enough for a female referee to succeed in sport.
Okatch was speaking at the recent Africa Women in Sport Conference hosted by the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) in Gaborone over the weekend.
The conference, which was held under the theme, ‘Reshaping Africa Women and Sport’ attracted speakers from the United Kingdom, Europe, Kenya, Congo, Malawi and many more other countries to discuss issues surrounding women sport development in Africa.
Okatch began refereeing in 2002, in Namibia and later became the first Motswana to become a FIBA International Referee in 2014. Some of Okatch’s recent achievements include officiating at the 2014 Under 18 Africa Championships held in Cairo Egypt, the 2015 Afro Basket Qualifiers in Bulawayo Zimbabwe, the 2015 Under 16 Qualifiers in Gaborone Botswana and also at the 2015 All Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo.
The accomplished referee said that women referees are faced with a challenge of being undermined by their male counterparts who look down on women and often refuse to take orders from them. Okatch also said that lack of opportunities and growth also led to females developing cold feet to pursue careers in refereeing, adding that there is scarcity of role models in the field.
“There is also no allowance made for a female who is pregnant or nursing in the officiating career, I spent two years away from officiating because I fell pregnant,” she said.Botswana Basketball Association (BBA) has only three active female referees, while Africa has only 17 women FIBA Referees compared to the 118 of males.
Okatch noted that one pressing issue was that only a handful of women participate in FIBA competitions, adding that males usually outnumber them.
She suggested that there should be a recruitment drive in schools, among tertiary students and retired athletes, to encourage them to engage in sports. “More females should be found in administrations, be in technical officials committees and executive committees,” she said.
Discussions at the conference included plenary sessions on Influence of Culture on Women and Sport, Gender Mainstreaming into Sport and The Role of Media in Women’s Sport in Africa. There were also parallel sessions that looked into issues such as Mentorship and Empowering of Women in Sport in Africa, Promoting Equal Access to Sport and Gender based Violence in Sport.
Local hockey body to incur massive financial loss post Covid-19
Botswana Hockey Association (BHA) President Unaswi Matebu has confessed that her Association will suffer major financial losses post the Covid 19 pandemic that has left the sport fraternity at a standstill.
Matebu recently told this publication that the current situation does not only have tremendous effects on their schedule, but also there will be financial implications more especially that the association does not have full time sponsors.
“We had to cancel most of our calendar activities such as tournaments, national team trainings, Board meetings, and club activities since mid-March this year, all of which have cost us money to prepare for,” Matebu remarked in an interview.
Additionally she said the planning phase for their 5-year Development Plan which was supposed to be launched in June will have to be postponed. Also there are national competitions that were postponed till further notice despite them having already set up teams and having already started preparing.
“Our Indoor Hockey Senior National teams had already started preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations – a World Cup qualifier – that was supposed to be held in June, 2020, in South Africa. Our Field Hockey Senior National teams had already begun preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that were supposed to be held in August, 2020 in Zimbabwe,” she added.
Moreover, it was going to be an excessively detailed and decorated year for local hockey governing body, with the Youth National teams having already began preparations for the Africa Youth Championships that were billed for September, 2020, in Ghana.
“Player conditioning has obviously been affected because athletes are currently not training as planned and what we had achieved so far might go to waste. We are only hoping that the Continental and World Hockey governing bodies will give us enough time to prepare for these competitions post the pandemic.”
BFA will not declare the season null and void – yet
Amidst wide spreading fears that Botswana’s top flight league might be canceled and considered null and void because of the crippling Covid-19 pandemic, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) has yet to make a determination on the matter and has in fact ruled out scrapping off the season altogether.
Local football observers and pundits alike have already started talking of the possibilities after similar considerations of nullifying their seasons were made in the leagues of other countries especially in Europe. No football activity has taken place in the country since social distancing measures were imposed to avoid the spread of the corona virus.
Local football pundit Fabian Zulu is one of those who believe there is a likelihood the football season will be nullified. “If the current situation persists, then there is a high possibility of declaring the league null and void. This situation wasn’t planned, no one knew that by now we would be facing this kind of situation; so the possibility is very high.
However, in an interview this week, BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane said the association has not considered canceling and nullifying the season as an option yet, adding that “currently we are observing a period of extreme social distancing, the ministry of health and wellness will obviously give advice on the possibility of getting back to football.”
Consequently the BFA still awaits the Ministry to declare that the risks of spreading the virus are reduced and come up with a contingency plan. “If the ministry says there is a reduced health risk we will play out the season; if they advise against it we will then see what steps to take. The health of our players is more important and we will be guided by the responsive authorities,” Mpatane remarked.
However, suspension or cancellation of the leagues across the world seems inevitable even as some European leagues, more specifically the English Premier League, are now contemplating a behind-closed-doors campaign to finish off the remaining matches.