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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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New GU Stadium Excites Mochudi based soccer rivals

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Officials at Mochudi village’s biggest  soccer clubs Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Mochudi Rovers are excited at the news that their district will soon have a state of the art football stadium after property and construction magnate Nicholas Zackhem announced the erection of the facility for Gaborone United.

Zackhem, owner and director of Zac Construction, revealed recently to this publication that a football stadium would be built in Bokaa village at a cost of P70 million, with the hope that all phases will be completed by 2025.

Edwin Mothulatshipi, Chairman of Centre Chiefs, as well as Mochudi Rovers’ Chairman Sugar Molefhe both spoke to The Midweek Sun on what the construction of the stadium means for their respective clubs. Both admit they would jump at the opportunity to use the facility for their official matches, and based on what Gaborone United financier Zackhem has shared with The Midweek Sun, it will not be difficult for all the other clubs based around the area to use the facility. TO READ THE COMPLETE STORY, BUY THIS WEEK’S EDITION (11 August 2021) OF THE MIDWEEK SUN AT A STORE NEAR YOU.

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Local hockey body to incur massive financial loss post Covid-19

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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.”

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