Game Mothibi is a woman on the move! From her teenage days as an average high school table tennis player, this quite but strong woman quickly found her niche behind the scenes in the rough and tumble of sports administration.
Mothibi rose through the ranks from being the Secretary General Of Botswana Table tennis to become the Secretary General of Women And Sports Botswana(WASBO), Board member for Botswana National Olympic Committee, Botswana National Sports Council special project coordinator and now the Secretary General of International Working Group on Women.
This an organisation whose mandate is to encourage women participation in sports.
IWG”s mission is to be a catalyst for the advancement and empowerment of women in sport globally.
As IWG’s SG Mothibi, 35, has hit the ground running to meet the organisation’s mandate and have results to show in 2018 when the IWG conference comes to Botswana where its secretariat is currently headquartered.
In this interview Mothibi speaks to Voice Editor Emang Bokhutlo about travelling on this road less travelled by women and her bright future in Sports.
Q: YOURS is not a face seen too many times in the media yet you have worked in this glamorous industry of Sports for decades. Why’s that?
Mothibi: Perhaps it”s because I’m generally a quite person.
Also when you think about it, it is the athletes who tend to get famous and not administrators.
We are more of background people who make things happen behind the scenes.
Q: How did you end up as not only an administrator but a rising international figure in this male dominated and tough industry, especially with your character?
Mothibi: I thrive on the challenge of working in a masculine environment.
I have always been a hands on, make it happen type of woman.
Being quiet doesn’t by any chance mean that I would let male colleagues stop me from doing what I have to do.
From very early in my career I learnt to harness my femininity to push my agenda in any male dominated setting.
Women by nature tend to be persuasive and men don’t like to argue and talk too much so my argument or viewpoint often wins the day because I can out talk any man any day if I have to.
(Laughs) Another thing women can use to their advantage to rise in a male dominated field is the way men are kind of wired to want to protect women even in the work environment.
While they are claiming to take care of you, you push your agenda and before they can say “babe” you are right on top!
Q: Don’t you think saying women should “ harness feminine power to rise up the career ladder in male dominated field would sound like you are implying or advocating for women to sleep their way to the top?
Mothibi: Oh no, I can never say or even imply that, ever! All I’m saying is that a woman doesn’t have to behave like a man and assume masculine approach to leadership to succeed.
But then again which woman has gone up the ladder and made a success of their career who hasn’t slept with their boss?
Think about it, whether you sleep with the boss or not people just love to accuse successful women of sleeping their way to the top.
What matters is not what people say or not say but what you know to be true about how you got to the top.
Q: What are some of the burning issues for women in sports that your organisation hopes to address?
Mothibi 1.There’s the non ending issue of sexual harassment in sports which does not only affect us locally but is international too.
This exists mainly between male coaches and female athletes.
It can also arise between male administrators and athletes.
It’s very tricky because sometimes coaches sideline female athletes in preference of those who can grant them sexual favours.
The solution would be to have more female coaches working with other women and more female sports administrators such as managers .
We also have athletes to athletes sexual harassment.
2. There”’s also the controversial problem of transgender athletes.
The way this problem has been handled has been very degrading to athletes at times.
What the public need to appreciate is that we can not just make athletes drop their pants down or lift their skirts up to determine their gender because that would be violating their human rights.
Even if its difficult to know who is who in the zoo by simply by looking , what the public need to is to learn to accept that once someone has been proven to be a certain gender by their birth certificate and other official documents we have no reason to subject them to inhumane treatment to confirm their sex.
Yet another issue that we need to tackle is the huge pay disparity between males and females in sports.
Both male athletes and sports administrators get paid a lot more than their women counterparts.
The most recent example that demonstrates the kind of pay disparity I am talking about is the South African Banyana Banyana National football team coach who gets paid R 2,500 a month visa vis the Bafana Bafana coach who goes home with a whopping P 40, 000 a month.
The difference is just ridiculous and this ought to stop.
Last but not least doping in sports is a major problem that we endeavour to sensitise athletes on.
Q: Anything tangible that IWG Botswana has done so far to tackle some of these problems?
One of our top priorities as IWG is to attract, protect and nurture girls and women in sports.
We advocate for sports codes to have a quota system to create a platform and an environment where more women are attracted into this otherwise masculine field of sports.
Amantle is the only female athlete to have competed in the Olympics.
On a more practical note as IWG Secretariat we have a programme where we have collaborated with BISA to identify four up an coming girls in sports whom we can support and nurture to the point where they will have a success story to share at the IWG Conference to be held in Botswana in 2018.
We have already gotten our list of female athletes from BISA and the project will start in enerst soon.
Q: Talking about the IWG conference, what would be some of the benefits of hosting it in Botswana?
This conference is going to attract not only international sports administrators to Botswana but also high calibre athletes to this country thereby putting Botswana on the map.
The conference is expected to discuss improvement on sports in general and local sporting personalities will get a chance to interact and learn from seasoned athletes and administrators.
On a wider scale the conference which is expected to attract at least 1,200 people to Gaborone will obviously be a big boost to our tourism industry.
There”s also an opportunity to attract more investors into the country.
Q: Any Role Models?
Definitely minister Makgatho Malesu. She is a very good administrator and she is the reason IWG is headquatred here right now.
She is my inspiration and part of the reason I am what I am oday.
Internationally there’s a very hardworking and admirable woman sports administrator called Raija Matilla .
She is old but she has the passion and she is a wealth of knowledge.
I must mention too that I admire and respect Amantle Montsho immesley whom I chaperoned her once She is one of the most disciplined sports person I have ever met.
All she got was a training programme from her trainer in Senegal and not once did I push her to wake up in the morning to go training and neither did I ever catch her cheating on her strict diet.