‘We desire nothing less than two (2) gold medals’
‘We are working (hard) to bring back school sport ASAP’
As we celebrate our Tokyo 2020 exploits and close that chapter, let us be reminded that the journey to Paris has begun. We want to send strong teams to the World Championships for seniors and youth as well as the Commonwealth games next year, inter alia, to not only have a go at medals, but hone our skills ahead of Paris. It is critical that we develop and implement a plan that will ensure that our athletes are well prepared to bring us glory from Paris; from which we desire nothing less than two (2) gold medals.
All of us who have been entrusted with various responsibilities must pull together towards this common aspiration of taking on the best in the world and emerging victorious. My Ministry has a responsibility at policy level, which includes availing resources and building capacity to deliver world class performance; and this we intend to deliver on. The BNSC and BNOC have to ensure that we have athletes and officials that are fit for purpose; capable of delivering podium finish in Paris. Private sector entities have to be good corporate citizen and invest in the people and communities they service and/or derive revenue from.
Against that backdrop we at MYSC are busy working with the Ministry of Basic Education to bring back school sport as soon as possible; for it is our belief that school sport programmes are the bedrock of sport development in our country. School sport programmes are aligned to the Long Term Athlete Development framework that will deliver the results that Batswana expect us to achieve.
I stand before you to commemorate a milestone in recognising the sterling performance of our athletes at the recently held Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The Government of Botswana, through the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development made a commitment to reward the Men’s 4 x 400m relay team with two bedroomed houses after making the Nation proud at the Olympic Games, and today we are here to deliver on that promise on behalf of the Government of Botswana and indeed all Batswana.
I would like to thank Botswana Housing Corporation, G4S Security, Multichoice Botswana, Bokomo, Nashua and FurnMart for finding it worthwhile to partner with us in celebrating our heroes from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Each of these companies have contributed to transforming the houses that we are handing over today to become homes that are fit for champions. These companies have contributed the following; BHC has furnished the 6 houses to make them more homely; Multichoice Botswana has installed decoders in all the houses and offered free subscriptions on their Compact+ bouquet for 12 months; Nashua Botswana’s input is through the installation of internet connectivity equipment and provision of free internet for twenty four months; G4S Security will ensure the security of our athletes by contributing alarm equipment and monitoring for a period of 12 months. Bokomo will ensure that each of the 8 athletes are provided with a P500 hamper of their products for a period of 12 months; Furnmart has provided 15% discount on the furniture and fridges worth P20 000.
During the Games in July and August this year, the attention of many of us, if not all of us in Botswana was captivated. We all spoke one language and wanted nothing but good performance by Team Botswana. We woke up at odd hours of the night, to not only catch the events of the Team live, but also to cheer them through our television sets and smart phones; even though we knew all too well that they could neither hear nor see us. The support was nonetheless what the team required to feel complete in its effort to deliver glory for our country against the best in world sport.
We were united beyond measure; and on some days, I am sure that a lot of us even forgot we were still afflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Such is the power of sport and the famous words of the late Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela cannot be more fitting when he said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.”
Government is committed to developing and supporting sport; with an intention of consistently producing world class athletes similar to the six that we are celebrating today. Considering that the journey to Tokyo was the most challenging as a result of the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic which hit our shores in early 2020, our performance in Tokyo was beyond expectation. The bronze medal and the African record achieved by our team will go in the history books as some of the greatest achievements by any of our athletes. This more so given that having first competed at the Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980, Tokyo was the 11th time that Botswana featured at the world biggest sport spectacle.
In our previous ten (10) appearances, we had only mustered one (1) medal; a silver courtesy of Nijel Amos at the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games; a feat that convinced us, if we were ever in doubt, that we have what it takes and if we put our minds and resources to it, we can hold our own against the best in the world.
While the bronze has not outstripped the silver, the conditions under which it was attained no doubt call for a big celebration. Therefore, to the Men’s 4 x 400m Relay Team and indeed the rest of the team to the Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, thank you so much for making us proud.
*MINISTER OF YOUTH EMPOWERMENT, SPORT AND CULTURE DEVELOPMENT. HANDING OVER CEREMONY OF HOUSES TO THE 4X400M TOKYO 2020 OLYMPIC GAMES RELAY TEAM