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A leap of power

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A leap of power
HONOURED: Hall of Fame recipient Tsoseletso Magang appreciated by Minister of Youth Thapelo Olopeng

Growing up, Tsoseletso ‘Tsosi’ Magang initially made her name as one of Botswana’s best long-jumpers.

The Kang native then made the leap from the pit to volleyball, where she once again excelled, establishing herself as one of the country’s greatest ever players.

When her playing days came to an end, Magang stuck with sport and pursued a career behind the scenes.

Last year, as part of the International Working Group on Women in Sport’s (IWG) build up to their recently ended World Conference, she was given a platform to host monthly open discussions.

Inducted into the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Hall of Fame in 2016, Magang is currently the Vice Chairperson of the Women and Sport Botswana (WASBO) movement and a qualified IOC National Course Director.

She has held various leadership positions within the country’s sporting structures, including the Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) Presidency, Women and Sport publicity secretary and coach of Kutlwano volleyball men’s team.

Voice Reporter Portia Ngwako-Mlilo met up with this wonder woman to find out more about her discussions, experiences as an athlete and WASBO’s mandate.

Q. What is the mandate of Women and Sport Botswana (WASBO)?

A. It started in 1997 to address the lack of women in sport leadership.

Women were not motivated to take part and Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) felt it was important to have it as a sub-structure after the Brighton Declaration.

It was formed with the mandate to increase women participation in sports.

When we talk of women participation normally we focus on the mother bodies’ administration forgetting coaching, refereeing and clubs leadership.

Q. Why is there a lack of women in sports leadership positions?

A. We realised they are not empowered in terms of skills development and some lack confidence but they have the potential.

Some are capable but they would rather go for lower positions and support men to become their leaders.

WASBO advocate for women’s involvement in sport and provide platforms to discuss our challenges and come up with solutions.

When BNSC changed from a council to a commission in the new act of 2014, women finally had a standing position on the board and represent WASBO.

Q. What are you doing to ensure the public is aware of this movement?

A. We did not push other issues because we did not have an authority as a BNSC sub-structure but we are now registered as a society.

We did not have authority on sports codes because they were not obliged to listen to us.

Currently we are working on how we can work with other organisations like BNOC, BNSC so that our authority is formalised.

Q. What has WASBO achieved to date?

A. Just recently we had the Women Sport Leadership Academy (WSLA) training before the IWG, which was meant to empower women and I was facilitating it.

It opened women’s minds that they should not be happy as cheerleaders or additional members.

25 women participated and we will continue to engage and we want them to be advocating for women participation.

It is the first time that WSLA was held in Africa.

As a result of this historic milestone and the IWG legacy, Botswana will now be the base for WSLA in Africa.

The Academy will run every two years.

Q. What was the objective of your open discussions?

A. I had wanted to do this for the past 10 years like a talk show, discussed it with Moabi Mogorosi and others but it never happened.

Maybe it was not the right time! I went for training at WSLA and what I liked about it is it’s a programme for you as a woman leader; it focuses on you, it challenges you.

When I came back as a trained facilitator I met IWG Secretary General, Game Mothibi who encouraged me to start these discussions.

The idea of the discussions is that women have issues, things that we do not have conducive platforms to discuss them.

One of the topics we discussed was balancing sport, work and family and invited women who managed to achieve this.

IWG opened the doors for me and the discussions are continuing next week.

We want to empower others to run them in other areas outside Gaborone.

Q. What impact did the discussions have?

A. The impact was magnificent. The feedback we got from participants was amazing.

It helped participants on the issue of confidence and believing in themselves.

One of the Presidents of the association said when they invited Brand Botswana to be part of the panellists she got to understand how it can work with sports codes.

We are not saying women should not be in leadership but we should work together when we have a girl child participating.

As an athlete I had never been coached by a female.

When I started my periods there was no female official and my male coach took me to the hospital.

We want women participation to increase!

Q. How far are we from achieving this?

A. We are still very far.

Let’s increase women with quality and relevant skills, which is why I am passionate about WSLA.

I am in the process of registering my Trust and focusing on women development.

We need to empower our women for them to come up and compete with men.

Almost all codes are led by men, 40 out of 44 to be exact; female participation is very low.

Q. We saw Amantle Montsho overcome with stage fright at the IWG conference, were athletes not trained at WSLA?

A. Officials are always at the forefront like one of the journalists was saying.

Why is it that sport codes when they have conferences they do not invite athletes as speakers to work on public speaking weakness.

It is actually one of the things I am working on – I want them to host the discussions.

It is not like training solves everything, we are all different.

We need to be lenient and find other ways of accommodating her.

She accommodates us by making us sit and watch her selling Botswana to the world on the track in seconds, something that most cannot do!

Q. What are some of your personal highlights as an athlete?

A. I am lucky I went to Matsha College, a lot of teachers were foreigners because it was rural and far from resources.

Our school head Bob William was a former baseball player and there was a Physical Education Programme.

Instead of going for afternoon study we went to the training fields.

My first day I took part in different sport and I broke the long jump school record.

When I was doing Form 4, I qualified for the World Junior Championships and that was the turning point for me in sports.

I was very active playing volleyball, badminton, table tennis, softball, football and darts.

I also got an Olympic Scholarship to do my Masters in Mathematics because of my excellence in sports.

Q. In 2016 you were inducted into the BNSC’s Hall of Fame – how does that feel?

A. It feels great.

I think BNSC need to hype it up a bit so that it can get the needed recognition.

(At the moment) It is just a ceremony that is done in Gaborone and a lot of people do not know about it.

If I were to address people in Kang and tell them I am a Hall of Fame recipient, they would ask me what that is?

Let’s make it big so that it can motivate young athletes. In other countries it can change your life.

Q. Who is your inspiration?

A. Myself. I have always inspired myself looking at where I have come from.

I was very shy and now I can address multitudes of people.

I also look up to women like Minister Dorcas Makgato and Game Mothibi.

Q. Thank God it’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?

A. I will be attending Ladies Circle Botswana fundraising dinner for building an interim home for children suffering from cancer.

Saturday, I will spend time with my family because the volleyball team I support, Kutlwano does not have a game.