In order to streamline operations, reduce duplications, improve efficiency and reduce costs associated with delivering school sports competitions, the Botswana Integrated Sport Association (BISA) and the Botswana Primary School Sports Association (BOPSSA) should become one school sports national governing body that operates on a full-time basis, a report has concluded.
Titled School Sports Review 2020, the report was prepared by a task force established by the Ministry of Basic Education (MOBE) and the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development (MYSC) to carry out a comprehensive review of sports development and competitions in schools following MOBE’s suspension of all national school sports activities in March 2020.
The task force has now advised the two bodies responsible for school sports, BISA and BOPSSA, to merge for the betterment of schools sports. “It is important that there is a structure that is responsible for managing and organising school sports competitions, instead of delegating to national associations, so that there is no disparity in the quality and experience of competitions for learners,” the task force says in its report. “The governing body should become an affiliate of both the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC).”
Once created, the governing body should be well-resourced and eventually operate on a full- time basis with dedicated personnel because of the magnitude and importance of school sports in the sports development continuum, says the report. “The governing body should also seek supplementary funding and partner with the private sector for long-term sustainability. In addition, when there is a dedicated office, service delivery will be improved to accord learners with improved quality of services in terms of organisation of competitions.”
Since establishing a full-time structure can be a lengthy process, for an interim period of 12 months, organisation and management of school sports competitions may be delegated to district offices of MYSC, along with the zonal coordinators and committees of BISA and BOPSSA. “The BNSC also has a dedicated and experienced games and competitions organising department,” the report reads. “The department has the capacity to support the delivery of school sports competitions.”
The report recommends that as core facilitators of sports development, National Sports Association (NSAs) should play a significant role in schools sports. “They should provide technical expertise during competitions, including the development of selection criteria for all stages for their respective sports,” states the report. “NSAs should have talent scouts present from the early stages of school sports competitions and they should also train teachers and external coaches to ensure that qualified personnel are sufficient to deliver quality sports programmes in schools.”
In addition, NSAs should deliberately engage the school sports structures to ensure that schools deliver NSA development programmes and offer all learners an opportunity to experience different sports.
“They should also link schools to local youth sports clubs and local sports clubs and ensure clubs run development programmes,” says the report. “NSAs should appoint district/regional development officers that work with the MYSC regional office and the BNSC office in each locality to implement and monitor development programmes.”
The report urges the government to exploit the potential value of schools and create a conducive environment for a holistic learner/student-athlete development. “This success will play a fundamental role in ensuring that Botswana achieve the long-term vision by 2036, particularly the human and social development pillar,” it says. “Sports plays a critical role in human and social development: It inculcates a healthy lifestyle from an early age. Research indicates that youth who play sports are likely to continue it throughout their life.”