The future of basketball in the second city looks bright, thanks to a team of dedicated young men and women at Gr8 Ballers Basketball Academy.
Officially registered in March this year, the Academy has been holding annual basketball tournaments since 2016.
At the helm of an ambitious plan to turn the fortunes of the sport around in Francistown is Victor Ledimo.
The Maun native, a teacher at Donga Junior School, has led the charge in the city. His dedication is beginning to bear fruits.
“Since taking over at Donga JSS, we’ve managed to send a couple of players for national team trials and some of our players have gone on to represent the city at Botswana Games,” revealed the young educator proudly.
Ledimo, who’s part of the Team Francistown set-up at the ongoing Botswana Games in Gaborone, said they started the tournament in 2016 with a single trophy on their return from the Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA) National Finals in Gaborone.
“After realising the amount of action teams enjoyed in Gaborone, we decided to come-up with something similar,” explained Ledimo.
“The tournament got better in 2017, but sadly we failed to host it in 2018 and 2019. This has not gone down well with the young basketball players in Francistown. They are demanding their tournament back!”
The basketball fanatic said plans are already underway to host a bigger tournament in March next year.
“We hope someone will come on board and sponsor trophies and medals for our talented athletes,” added Ledimo in his subtle appeal to private companies.
The dedicated coach told Voice Sport he is encouraged by the good results he sees from the academy.
“Three of our former players were part of the Mater Spei College team which won the 2019 BISA Nationals, defeating Maruapula Senior,” recalled Ledimo proudly.
He further said some of the players under the Gr8 Ballers mentorship were also part of the Bronze medal winning team at the 2017 Botswana Games.
“This year we have nine players as part of the Team Francistown in Gaborone. This speaks volumes and we believe the numbers and the quality of play will improve with time,” he said.
Recruited to the sport in 2012 when he arrived in Francistown, Ledimo has not looked back since.
He learnt the basics and was soon in charge of the Donga JSS team, which has been the leading basketball school in the north in the last seven years.
“I later met North East Basketball Coordinator Tirelo Serumola who’s been instrumental in the resurgence of the sport in the city,” he added.
Ledimo, however, laments the lack of facilities in the area, which he said hampers the sport’s progress.
“We use the Pelotshweu Primary School court, whose posts has been damaged for the past two years. We rely on BDF facilities and I wish there were more basketball courts and teams in Francistown.”