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Centres of sport excellence up running

14 Nov 2023

The Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC), in collaboration with Ministries of Youth,  Gender, Sport and Culture as well as that of Education and Skills Development, has embarked on an initiative to create an environment where learner athletes study, participate in sport and excel.

That was born from the view that athletics training as well as academic study are interrelated.

Another reason was that sport in education helps to shape learners’ personality and contributes to their holistic development.

To that effect, a number of centres of sport excellence were identified and launched in 2011 with seven National Sport Associations (NSAs) in the country, which included athletics, football, boxing, netball, softball, volleyball and karate and 12 junior and senior secondary schools were designated as such centres.

The initiative was later transferred to BNSC in 2013 to integrate academics, sport and support services towards holistic development of athletes.

Some people seemed to wonder if the centres still existed and achieving their mandate.

In an interview, BNSC sport development director, Peaceful Seleka confirmed that the centres were still up and running.

Seleka said the centres were established in both junior and senior secondary schools.

Currently, only football and volleyball programmes were offered at the junior schools while the rest of the codes were offered at senior schools.

“We don’t leave other talent out. Some learners are not part of the Re Ba Bona Ha programme but we continue to identify them and place them at these centres,” Seleka said.

Furthermore, he said sport excellence since inception, has gone an extra mile to ensure that they derived value from it.

“We appreciate teacher coaches and the good work that they have been doing, but we cannot solely rely on them since they have their main job, which is teaching. And because they have been doing this on voluntary basis, the BNSC has since hired volunteer coaches for the centres who are non-teachers,” he said.

On one hand, Seleka said all the centres of football in Mogoditshane and Radisele had hired two coaches who were working closely with the teachers.

Such coaches, he said had been identified by the Botswana Football Association (BFA) as trained and qualified coaches.

He said Mogoditshane secondary schoool was identified as a centre for athletics, boxing, karate, football and netball while Goodhope secondary school was identified as a centre for athletics, softball and volleyball and all the codes had coaches who were working closely with the teachers.

“We start with athletes at Re Ba Bona Ha, then take them to school of excellences after which, if they had passed well, they are then enrolled for elite scholarship programme where athletes do dual career, that is they continue to study and do sport at the same time,” he said.

He explained that NSAs however had to apply for the elite scholarship programme, which was allocated 10 slots by the Department of Tertiary Education Financing every financial year.

“The 10 slots are available to any athlete who qualifies and any NSA may apply provided they have an athlete who show potential and meets the minimum requirements. But first, we target those from the sport of excellence because we want continuity.

When they qualify, we make sure that they apply,” Seleka said.

Meanwhile, he said over and above, centres of sport excellence exist to increase society’s pool and supply of educated, talented and dedicated athletes capable of superior and sustained performance at all levels of sport competition.

They also provide talented athletes with opportunities for self-expression, self-fulfilment and creative productivity and also produce the next generation of well-informed coaches and sport leaders.

According to BNSC, they had since recorded some achievements with Zanele Mdlongwa from Masunga  and Molebiemang Abetha from Goodhope , who represented Botswana at the Under-19 Women’s World Cup held in Canada in 2019.

Bernard Olesitse from Goodhope won gold in 400m at the 2019 Botswana Games and qualified for the 2020 IAAF Junior Athletics Championship.

Also, six players from Artesia and Radisele were selected to the Women Under-17 National Team playing in the 2020 FIFA Under-17 World Cup Qualifiers and the 2019 Under 17 COSAFA Cup while five boys from Mogoditshane were also selected to the National Under-20 squad for 2019 U-20 COSAFA Cup. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Anastacia Sibanda

Location : GABORONE

Event : Interview

Date : 14 Nov 2023