BOPSSA decry inadequate funding
Sponsors are reluctant to sponsor primary school children
The future of primary school sport faces a bleak future as a result of never-ending financial constraints, which compromise the development of sports, Botswana Primary Schools Sports Association (BOPSSA) says.
BOPSSA Vice President Technical, Selebatso Keabetswe summed up most of their problems to one main factor, which is a lack of a solid financial standing. The association is a 100% sponsored by government, getting funding from the Ministry of Basic Education and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural development. It also receives sponsorship from the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC).
Keabetswe said the funding received from government is not enough to meet their needs as an association. “We acknowledge and appreciate all efforts by government but there is only so much we can do. Another thing is that, even if we combine all our funds from the three, it would still not be enough to realize our expectations for primary schools’ sports,” he added. The challenges within primary schools’ sports include problems with resources for the children as well as poor human resources and infrastructure. According to Keabetswe children barely have enough training kits.
The Ministry of Local Government and Rural development is specific in its sponsorship directed at training kits, equipment and affiliation; however, some children are still left behind without adequate sport materials. Additionally, the human resources team is made up of teachers who are not professionally trained. “The teachers who coach do it because of passion, or just to while away time and perhaps passing on their experiences back in their glory days while playing sport,” bemoaned Keabetswe. He explained that this affects the quality of the training children receive, highlighting that training has its own philosophy and the desire would be to get professional training for their human resources and engage in workshops.
BOPSSA has seven recognizable sporting codes, and each is designed to play out on specific training grounds. Unfortunately, most schools have poor infrastructure and one or two grounds that serve as multipurpose for everything. “Football like netball is easy, you just need an open field but others need specific courts and pitches. While some of these exist in schools, they are not up to standard anymore and this is a major concern,” Keabetswe said. He explained that currently the Chobe region does not have a stadium and that children have to wait to qualify for national competitions to play at a stadium, a worrisome observation as children do not get enough exposure which ultimately affects projected development.
In 2011, after the public service strike, BOPSSA lost its vacation training camps sponsorship from Metropolitan and have since failed to mend bridges. The training camps were meant to boost school sport development and enhance sporting skills. “Our biggest challenge now is that sponsors shy away from supporting little children for fear of investing in vain and because they lack faith in primary school sport. They prefer to sponsor teams that eventually make it to national and international competitions because of the wide coverage they receive,” a concerned Keabetswe said. Additionally, he argued that the consequences of cutting off the holiday camp shows in the performance of students in sport, worsened by the structure of the schools’ sport calendar.
The programme went into oblivion because the association does not have the money to fund the initiative, which demands accommodation, food and proper training equipment for the children. “We have sat down before with relevant stakeholders, to encourage them to do away with halting sport per term and try a continuous approach but there have not been tangible results yet,” Keabetswe added. He further mentioned that they recognize the support they receive as a government entity, citing that the responsible stakeholders disperse what they can afford even though it’s a long mile from what they often request. He also appeals to potential sponsors to lend a helping hand because the future of sport starts at grassroot level.