Basketball Academy gets Ghetto bouncing
For the duo of Katlego and Tshepho Matenge, sports and business are two tributaries of one lake, woven together by a waterfall of passion and love.
The bubbly young couple are the founders of Bokamoso Junior Basketball Academy, a new organisation set to shake up the sports scene in Francistown.
Led by former basketball player and Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Elite Scholarship beneficiary Katlego as its Managing Director, the academy has received a lot of support from the business community and the civil leadership in the country’s second capital.
Katlego is an International Basketball Federation (FIBA) accredited coach, following her six years of learning the trade in Cuba.
She called the idyllic communist Caribbean island home from 2009 until 2015, returning to Botswana after completing her studies to take up coaching gigs mainly at private schools.
In an exclusive interview with Voice Money, the former coach at Phakalane English Medium School, where she won trophies and produced top athletes, revealed they intend to plant a basketball seed that will grow and produce more seedlings in Francistown.
“Our mandate as the academy is to make basketball a popular sport at grassroot level. We realised that unlike in Gaborone, kids here start playing the sport from an advanced age. Our primary schools here don’t offer basketball lessons; we are here to bridge that gap,” she declared, her husband nodding in full agreement.
Katlego believes that as a BNSC elite scholarship beneficiary, she owes it to the country to share all she has learnt and allow a new generation to reap further rewards.
“Through Bokamoso, I’ll give back to the community as part of the academy’s CSR projects,” she told Voice Money.
She revealed that with the assistance of the office of the area Member of Parliament (MP), Billy Buti, and Social Workers. they intend to hold coaching clinics for less privileged kids in the city.
“Basketball should not be a sport for a certain class of people. It’s a sport that should be enjoyed by every child!” states the mother-of-two, soon to be three.
Katlego said she’s well aware of the stigma associated with the code, and promised to work hard to make it an inclusive sport.
“I know the feeling of having a parent tell you they can’t afford a training sneaker. That should not be the case with sport, that’s why we are negotiating with a reputable sport brand that’ll make life easier for our students in terms of sports apparel,” interjected her husband.
While Katlego takes care of the sports, Tshepho, also a Director in the academy, takes care of the business side.
“I’m happy that a lot of people have embraced this initiative and I’m hopeful that more entities will come on board and help us take kids off the street and build future elite athletes,” he said, adding the end aim is to expose as many youngsters as possible to basketball, to be build a good pool of ‘hoopers’ in the city.
“We want to see the sport grow to a point where we also have Basketball Sundays,” added Tshepho, in reference to the craze that is ‘Sunday Soccer’.
The couple is confident that, while it may take a while for some people to warm up to the idea, Bokamoso Junior Basketball Academy’s flickering light will soon turn into a fully blown inferno raging in Francistown.
Although they’ve always known each other through their parents, the two sports lovers officially started dating 14 years ago.
“Sports, business and family mean everything to us. I met my husband in 2009 when I was leaving for Cuba, and we maintained a long distance relationship for six years and eventually got married. It was not easy but we made it,” recalled Katlego.
“We made it,” nodded Tshepho in agreement.
These dedicated parents to two sons, with a third child on the way, believe the academy will add much value to the city and indeed country’s sport scene.
“We to expose as many kids to basketball as possible, and hopefully some of them will get scholarships to study abroad and make a living out of sports,” she said.
The academy was successfully launched at John Mackenzie School (JMS) on Saturday, attracting a decent turn-out with children of various age groups in attendance.
Open to youth aged from 5 to 17, training takes place at the JMS courts on Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 – 5:30pm as well as every Saturday at 9:30 – 10:30am. Fees are set at P550 a month, plus a one-off signing fee of P150.