Thousands of ambitious young athletes with dreams of becoming the next Isaac Makwala or Amantle Montsho lined up at the Francistown Sports Complex for the start of the BISA/BOPSA Athletics National Championships on Monday.
Indeed, it is far from an unrealistic ambition as both Makwala and Montsho took part in the Championships in their school days before going on to star on the world stage.
Speaking at Monday’s official opening, Assistant Minister of Basic Education, Thato Kwerepe encouraged the gathered youngsters to aim big, stressing that sport plays a critical role in the modern era.
He pointed out that sport has become a massive, money-spinning industry, with the power to entertain, enrich, employ and even unite nations.
“After winning several medals at the Commonwealth Games, the members of Team Botswana will go smiling all the way to the banks after receiving their incentives or bonuses.
Their families, friends, business community will indirectly benefit from that which they received from the nation,” he said, challenging those about to compete to emulate the success of their heroes.
“This indirectly is creating a path for our future stars. This competition will help my ministry and the nation of Botswana to identify talent and later groom it to match the standards achieved by elder brothers and sisters,” he said, adding that the success of the team at the Commonwealth Games did not start from a vacuum.
“I am told Amantle Montsho, Baboloki Thebe, Karabo Sibanda, Isaac Makwala, Christine Botlogetswe, Galefele Moroko, Leaname Maotoanong, Onkabetse Nkobolo, to mention but a few were identified and coached by teachers in this crowd,” he continued, praising the endless efforts made by teachers in performing multiple roles in the school set up.
The Minister urged the competitors to give their best shots as this could earn them an opportunity to be selected to represent the country at the Confederation of School Sport Associations of Southern Africa’s Athletics Championships, which will also be held in Francistown.