While a majority of citizens are beating their chests in frustration for having failed to achieve a single pillar of Botswana’s Vision 2016 initiative, a football fanatic and nurse based at Palapye Primary Hospital is on cloud nine.
Kitso Phala Khuwa has just achieved one of the pillars through football. In 2008 when Khuwa was still a tertiary student at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa, he formed Ma-14 FC, a club which has its roots in the once notorious location of Maipaafela in Francistown.
His main reason for starting the team was to encompass some of the Vision 2016 pillars in his life to bring about unity among the youth. “When I started the club from my tertiary allowance, I wanted to achieve the pillar of a united and proud nation as well as that of a secure and safe nation.
Football itself brings socialisation and unity in the community as it is loved by almost everyone. On the 31st of December 2015, we also held a Miss Ma-14 beauty pageant which went on to attract a lot of revellers. The patronage was just out of this world as we were just some few hours from 2016.” Apart from creating unity, football can also compel people to be grouped at one venue, in the process avoiding unnecessary road accidents and crime for which youths are always blamed, Khuwa added.
Khuwa was himself born in the Maipaafela location where he grew up playing football in the dusty streets of the locality. Despite the challenges including lack of resources, he did not bury his head in defeat but resolved to do something for a sport he so loved.
“When I was admitted in South Africa for my tertiary studies in 2008, I then decided to form a football team for youths under the age of 17 as one way of achieving the Vision 2016 pillars. I developed the urge to give these kids a chance to display their talent and used my school allowance to sponsor the team in all its areas of need, including football kits, footballs and transportation when we travelled,’’ he said.
Currently, the team has 18 players who are being groomed and developed for professional teams as football has now become a reliable bread basket for those who take it seriously. The team is always involved in various football tournaments around the city as one way of drilling them for future prospects.
“Although the team has participated in constituency tournaments in 2008, it eventually pulled out because most of the players were under 17 and a majority were still at school. I want to help children of Maipaafela location to play football and instil in them a sense of self-esteem and to achieve better results. Coming from the location always makes people to look at you with suspicion as most petty criminals frequent and live in the locality,” he said.
He adds that this association has dented most children’s confidence as they are always associated with all forms of vices. It is a sad reality which he hopes to banish by helping these kids to realise their dreams of following in the footsteps of Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele who plies his trade for South African football giants Mamelodi Sundowns.
Apart from drilling them in football, children are also taught the importance of education as it is the key to a successful life. Khuwa also said that localities including Monarch, Blue Town, Kgaphamadi and Maipaafela are disadvantaged as people originating from such areas are always suspected as hosts to vile acts.
“We are currently surviving in a society characterised by social ills such as HIV and AIDS, alcohol and drug abuse, passion killings and public nuisance. Through football gatherings these acts are neutralised through lectures we give during the gatherings as one way to build a secure and safe nation,” he said.
He revealed that during the just-ended Botswana Games, one of his team players was representing Francistown district as a top striker.