The National Sports bill is expected before parliament this year. The bill is expected to eventually create the National Sports Act, which will clearly define the roles of the various sporting bodies in the country including the Department of Sports and Recreation (DSR), the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) and the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC).
Two years ago government embarked on a global benchmarking exercise spanning three countries - Zimbabwe, Egypt and Australia. BG Sport is in possession of the confidential ministerial task team report on the benchmarking exercise compiled by the BNSC, BNOC and DSR.
The National Sport Bill is currently at drafting stage at the Attorney General’s Chambers. However, a recommendation made by the ministerial task team gives a rare glimpse of what to expect from the bill once it reaches parliament.
The task team recommends that Botswana should adopt a two structure, single affiliation model as defined in the report. This model proposes the establishment of a Sports Commission and National Olympic Committee (NOC), with the National Sports Federations (NSFs’) affiliating to the latter.
“Given Botswana’s population size, the NOC will also be responsible for the Commonwealth Games. In addition there should be standalone bodies for recreation, leisure as well as disability sport,” the report states.
The 27page document recommends that Physical Education should be a compulsory subject at all levels of education, at least up to secondary school level. In addition the report states that sports should be considered for direct benefit from alternative sources as revenues collected from the alcohol levy, lottery income or gambling taxes (current or contemplated).
“Government should establish at least two combined dedicated Sports Schools, to which young athletes exhibiting talent would be enrolled and be provided with sports science, sports medicine support, tutorials, mentorship and expert coaching,” the report states, adding that such an arrangement would be advantageous with respect to the economies of scale.
According to the report, sports schools would need not follow conventional academic calendars, and should provide athletes the opportunity of taking longer that usual to complete any level of study. The report goes on to recommend that Ministry of Youth Sports (MYSC) and Culture should lobby institutions of higher learning to allow identified athletes the latitude to take longer than usual to complete academic programmes.
“In addition the MYSC should also propose to the Ministry of Education and Skills Development, the awarding of points to excelling athletes following very strict criteria,” the report states. The task team argued that sports bodies representing educational institutions should continue to exist for their specific purpose. However, the task team recommends the establishment of a single umbrella body for school sports.
The report calls for government to do away with cost recovery at sports facilities and provide on an annual basis, subventions for facilities management and maintenance as it is done in countries like Australia and Egypt. “The MYSC should ensure that there is appropriate legislation that deals with issues of match fixing, illegal betting or gambling in sport.
An autonomous appeals body should be established by legislation to manage disciplinary issue, disputes and ethical matters emanating from various sports bodies,” the report states. The task team also recommends that Botswana should enact legislation providing for the overall management of professional sports especially boxing and wrestling to ensure proper licensing and compliance with tax laws and insurance, amongst other imperatives.
“Botswana should, as a matter of urgency establish its own National Anti Doping agency, funded by government, but having autonomy in its operations,” the report states. Speaking to BG Sport in a previous interview the Director of Sports at the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture, Falcon Sedimo confirmed the 2011 benchmarking trip to the three countries.
“The trip was in support of the proposed National Sports Act,” he said, adding that the Bill is being drafted by the AG’s Chambers. Sedimo could however not confirm whether the Bill will be presented in the next session of parliament.