Table tennis moves up

Baitshepi Sekgweng
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Top table for table tennis as sport promoted to BNSC Tier 1

As just rewards for its impressive showing, both on and off the table, table tennis has earned a seat at the top table of Botswana sport.

Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) have promoted the sports code to Tier 1, an upgrade that will see the Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA) receive improved funding.

The top bracket, which also features: athletics, cricket, football, tennis and volleyball, is reserved for National Sport Associations (NSA) who excel, both in terms of athletic performance and management of their affairs.

BNSC introduced this system of categorizing associations back in 2021, to ensure funds are distributed according to where they are most deserved, with the high-performing associations receiving the biggest slice of the pie.

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Having started in the lowest rank (Tier 4), table tennis’ rise to the top has been swift, achieved in part thanks to the BTTA’s repeated ability to attract sponsorships.

Phoenix Assurance, Stag International, Okavango Diamond Company, Turnstar Holdings, Botho University, Indian High Commission and First Capital Bank Botswana are some of the high-profile institutes to back the sport in recent years.

As well as a national league, financed by Phoenix Assurance, BTTA hold regular open tournaments throughout the year, complete with decent prize money.

When it comes to tier grading, other key factors considered are the sport’s ability to create employment/source income for players and also make an impact on the international stage.

BTTA has been able to achieve this through initiatives such as Phoenix Assurance Life Changing award, which fetches P25, 000 and goes to the best-performing player at the Phoenix Grand Slam competition.

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Expressing his delight at what he termed a ‘milestone moment’, BTTA President, Kudzanani Motswagole noted this was the result of much hard work.

“This is a tremendous achievement for table tennis because it has shown its ability to develop talent, achieve success on the continental and global stage, and effectively manages its resources well to produce results.”

The grateful President was quick to thank all those who played a part in taking local table tennis to the next level.

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“We are thankful to sponsors and partners who have believed in us and contributed to this success. Their support has been instrumental in helping table tennis reach greater heights, and we look forward to continuing these fruitful collaborations. We must continue to lead by example and help drive the growth of sport in Botswana,” declared Motswagole, adding maintaining the Tier 1 status will require sustained effort and innovation.

Meanwhile, BTTA is scheduled to host Commonwealth Youth Championships from July 8-14, followed by the Africa Youth Championships for U/15 and U/19 athletes from July 15-21 at Botho University Multi-Purpose Hall.

Hosting such international gigs is just one of the reasons table tennis will now dine with the elite of Botswana sport.

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