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Debswana, BoBA reward 2014/15 star boxer

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Eastern Military Garrison (EMG) Boxing Club’s middleweight, Zibani Chikanda’s patience and hard work finally paid off when he was bestowed the Boxer of the Year Award at the Debswana Boxing Awards ceremony over the weekend.

After years of blood and sweat in the boxing ring, the military man proved that he has certainly matured like fine wine having experienced a stellar 2015 season which saw him finish in third place at the 2015 All Africa Games (AAG).

Moreover, the power punching Chikanda managed to get a silver medal at the African Confederation Boxing Championships in Casablanca, Morocco. Closer to home, the 30-year old managed to grab a gold medal at the Zone IV Games in South Africa.

It was a combined award ceremony that also recognised outstanding performers from 2014, with the Boxer of the Year Award for last year going to the abundantly talented pugilist Kagiso Bagwasi. It was a fulfilling recognition for the budding Bagwasi who beat tough competition from the likes of Mooketsi Lekgetho and Oteng Oteng to win the prestigious award.

The southpaw who is coached by 2015 Coach of the Year Thebe Setlalekgosi, has enjoyed consistent success ever since bursting onto the local boxing scene three years.

Kagiso and his younger sibling Kabelo Bagwasi have been a staple in the national team and the main attraction at BoBA interclub tournaments. Ever since being introduced to the sweet science back in 2009, Bagwasi has grown from strength to strength under the guidance of Setlalekgosi.

This year Bagwasi won a bronze medal at the 2015 All Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo. The 22-year-old athletic pugilist also came third at the African Confederation Championship in Morocco earlier this year. His crowning moment was garnering a gold medal at the 2015 African Zone 4 Games in South Africa.

Bagwasi is now expected to qualify for next year’s 2016 Rio, Brazil Olympic games. Other 2014 winners on the night include: Female Promising Boxer of the Year, Keamogetse Kenosi; Male Promising Boxer of the Year, Mohammad Otukile; Female Boxer of the Year, Pearl Morake; Coach of the Year, Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza; Best Judge Hlanganani Digwere and Etsogile Ngwako who won the Best Referee award.

The 2015 award winners include Orapeleng Ketshametse who scooped the Female Promising Boxer award; Mohammed Otukile the Male Promising Boxer of the year; Female boxer of the year for Koketso Dipogiso; Coach of the Year, Thebe Setlalekgosi; Best Judge Hlanganani Digwere and Best Referee, Etsogile Ngwako.

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Gaborone United Football Club has finally handed Township Rollers the release letter of its (Rollers) Head coach, Rodolfo Zapata, Sun Sports can confirm.

Since Zapata’s appointment as Rollers head coach last month, he is yet to sit on the bench. GU has been holding tight to Zapata’s work permits that he dumped early this year for a job in Kenya. He then resurfaced last month as Rollers coach but things have been stagnant with Zapata not able to coach as he had an active work permit that needed to be cancelled.

This week, both GU Chairman Boitumelo Nsunge and Zapata confirmed that there has been an exchange of the letter. “Yes we have given him the release letter and agreed to cancel his work permit with GU,” Nsunge said.

The GU chairman however noted that they are still to discuss the alleged debt saying they have asked Zapata to furnish them with prove that indeed they owe him money over P300 000. The news will see Rollers management breath a sigh of relief as they have been trying for several weeks now, to work on the GU Zapata saga.

This publication has been reliably informed that the president of Rollers, Jagdish Shah was running out of ideas and was bound to make a decision regarding the matter some time last week. Actually speculations have been rife that Zapata would soon be replaced before he even starts official work at Rollers.

However as it stands now, anytime is teatime. Rollers is eagerly waiting on the Department of Immigration to process Zapata’s work permit with Rollers. It is not clear if the work permit will be available latest today, which will see Zapata on the bench tonight when they play Notwane Football Club, or the Argentine will have to wait for the year 2019 to start his duties.

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Olopeng’s last answer as sports minister

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Before vacating his office at the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Minister Thapelo Olopeng was confronted with one last controversial question from MP for Francistown Buti Billy last week.

The MP asked about an update on the commercialisation of sport. The issue has been a hot potato since the Botswana National Sports Commission Act was amended in order to professionalise local sports. However, the process has proven to be an uphill battle. The following is an excerpt from the Parliament Hansard in which the former sports minister responded to the question.
Buti Billy (Francistown East): Asked the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development to update this Honourable House on how he is commercialising sport and if there is any strategy in place to carry out that mandate.

Thapelo Olopeng: Thank you very much Mr Speaker. The transition from Botswana National Sport Council (BNSC) to the Commission in 2014 was the first step towards professionalisation of sport in terms of setting up structures. Sport is at different levels of commercialisation in the different sport codes depending on the level of professionalism. We have a number of teams or codes which are already at semi-professional.

In football, several clubs have their players contracted and remunerated as per signed contracts. Sport also sells broadcast rights to generate revenue. Merchandising is another way that sport has commercialised. There has been establishment of local companies that manufacture sport apparel, and these have grown in popularity over the years. We have also witnessed sport such as Boxing, Athletics, and Golf, to name but a few. We witnessed them professionalise their operations and more are expected to follow. In some of the sport codes, individual sportsmen and women play professional sport internationally.

Mr Speaker, the Botswana National Sport Commission Strategy 2028, which commenced in January 2013, is an overarching strategy towards professionalising of sport, and thus commercialisation. The strategy seeks to promote sport excellence and enhance the contribution of sport to the economy. Billy: Supplementary. Ke a leboga Tona. Fa re lebeletse sports in general; all sports codes, a Minister o itumelela gore he had created employment jaaka a bua gore other sports codes di setse di simolotse go dirwa commercial? (Looking at all sport codes in general, is the Minister of sports happy he has created employment as he says with other sport codes becoming commercial)?

Olopeng: Thank you very much Mr Speaker. Thank you very much Honourable Member. Mr Speaker, my answer to that is yes, because just as at Premier League in soccer, we have 16 teams and every player within these 16 teams is on a payroll; they are paid by those individual clubs, that is creation of employment. We have our international athletes, those who participate outside the country at different events; they are paid.

We have other players, our athletes in football, netball and those who are hired by teams outside Botswana, I can just give example of teams in South Africa which have hired our players right here from Botswana and those young boys are paid by these particular teams. We have not reached where we want to reach, that is the reason why we are still developing our strategy of 2028 with Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) to make sure that we turn sports into an industry.

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