The world’s largest and most sophisticated rough diamond sorting and valuing operation, Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTC Botswana), has injected P2.43 million into the women’s football league and grassroots football development programmes across the country, The Business Weekly Sports has established.
DTC Botswana is a 50/50 joint venture partnership between the Government of Botswana and De Beers that aims to facilitate, drive and support creation of a vibrant, sustainable and profitable downstream diamond industry in Botswana through superior sorting and valuing practices. The company has the capacity to sort 45 million carats a year.
The Managing Director of DTC Botswana, Sedireng Serumola, says they have decided to sponsor women’s football in accordance with the company’s new strategy, particularly its priority area of sustainability that encompasses DTC Botswana’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme.
“We have now taken the direction to be a more inclusive and diverse organisation, demonstrated by us achieving gender parity at executive level,” Serumola said, speaking at the launch of the sponsorship in Gaborone on Tuesday this week. “Supporting a culture of equality, diversity and inclusivity is also a national priority. DTCB will continue to promote opportunities of this nature.”
Serumola noted that DTCB took a deliberate decision to not only sponsor women’s football league but also support grassroots football development training programmes in primary schools which are in the 17 regions of Botswana Football Association (BFA). The sponsorship, which will commence in the 2021-2022 football season, will see DTC Botswana being the lead sponsor of women’s football and grassroots football development for three years with P2.43 million.
“The women’s football league and the grassroots development programme also resonates with DTC Botswana’s strategy which envisions to develop a workforce that is equal in gender representation as well as equal in access to opportunities for boys and girls in communities,” Serumola said. “As we gather here today, DTC Botswana is proud to have taken yet another bold step to contribute towards building a culture of gender equality, diversity and inclusion.”
Also speaking at the event, the president of the BFA, MacLean Letshwiti, described the sponsorship as a huge milestone for the development of women football. Letshwiti said he has always believed that the best route to any FIFA World Cup finals or any major football competition for Botswana is through women’s football. That is why, he added, countries like the US have empowered and invested heavily in women’s football.
The BFA president said the recent performances of senior women’s football team and their younger counterparts, the U-20, in COSAFA, CAF Qualifiers and FIFA U-20 World Cup COSTA RICA 2022 Qualifiers, speak volumes about the huge strides made by women’s football and point to its bright future. The partnership with DTCB will go a long way in nurturing these talents and making sure that the BFA and Botswana realise their dreams.
“The announcement of the DTC Botswana sponsorship today could not have come at a better time,” Letshwiti said. “I am confident that the partnership will see growth of women’s football in Botswana to unprecedented heights. I am hopeful that the partnership between DTC Botswana and the BFA can in a few years be looked back on for the huge impact that it would have had on women’s football in Botswana.
“I am confident that we will enter our first AFCON women’s finals as a result of this motivation. This will hopefully further enable the BFA to partake in an aggressive programme of women’s football development in Botswana, starting from grassroots up to a truly professional women’s elite league.”
Said the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, also speaking at the launch of the DTCB sponsorship: “Women too need to be encouraged so that they can also realise their dreams. I am happy to see DTC Botswana supporting the development agenda of women’s football. My excitement emanates from the fact that DTC Botswana chose to depart from tradition to support a deserving constituency, being women’s football.” Minister Rakgare noted the senior women’s team, The Mares, recently advanced to the second round of the Total Women’s AFCON Qualifiers after “hammering” Angola 7–1 on aggregate.
“This leaves them with just one match or stage, which I’m told will be against Zimbabwe next year,” he added, saying reaching the final of that event “for the very first time in our history as a country” is coming exactly 10 years after their male counterparts made their berth at AFCON. “It is against this backdrop that we need to go all out to support these women,” Minister Rakgare emphasised.