Japanese softball team from Chyukyo University is currently in Botswana. The team is made up of 13 female players and will be in Botswana for a whole month.
The team is expected to share their softball expertise in different parts of Botswana such as Good Hope, Masunga, Maun and Gaborone. This is done as per the agreement between Botswana and the Japanese government to work together in a project called Official Development Assistance (ODA) facilitated by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Speaking at a briefing held in Gaborone this week, the newly appointed Resident Representative of JICA Ken Yamada said, “This project of Softball Technical Exchange Program between our volunteers from Chyukyo University, Japan, and Botswana Softball Association (BSA) was agreed to run for three years and now we are on our second year.
Furthermore, the University softball team we brought here is a powerhouse in Japan hence Botswana will benefit immensely in their visit to different Botswana locations as they will be imparting their esteemed knowledge of the sport, being softball.”
JICA’s volunteer programs support activities of Japanese citizens who wish to cooperate in the economic and social development as well as the reconstruction of developing countries.
Furthermore, 14 Volunteers are currently working in Botswana in various fields ranging from sports, social welfare, to auto mechanics, IT and graphic design and others.In his address, BSA President Thabo Thamane said this endeavour is a great initiative as the country is bound to reap fruits, “This is really exulting as a lot of outcomes are expected in this venture; exchange of culture between Japanese and the locals will be an epic thing to happen and surely the softball fraternity will benefit greatly as well,” he said.
For his part, Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Board member and also Botswana National Olympic Commission (BNOC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tuelo Serufho expressed his gratitude to the Japanese who took liberty to work with the local government.
“I would like to extend my profound gratitude to Japanese government for embarking on this journey with us, and surely this will be of great help to the country and this relationship is really important hence the need to be safeguarded,” said Serufho.
Baseball and softball leaders from approximately 100 countries are currently in Botswana to participate in the II WBSC World Baseball Softball Congress (WBSC), which opened last this week in Gaborone.
In addition to WBSC Baseball and WBSC Softball elections, key agenda items include reviews of the Olympic baseball and softball qualifying system/format, the WBSC Constitution, new applicants for WBSC membership, as well as the awarding of hosting rights for future Baseball World Cups and Softball World Championships.
Hosted at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) by the Botswana Softball Association (BSA) in conjunction with the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC), the official WBSC Congress general programme will begin Thursday, 12 October and conclude on Saturday, 14 October, involving delegates and high-ranking decision-makers from over 130 WBSC National Federations and Associate Members.
“The World Baseball Softball Congress is an important gathering of baseball’s and softball’s leaders to discuss and shape the future direction and international expansion of our global sport,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. “WBSC is grateful to the Botswana Softball Association and the Botswana National Sports Commission for welcoming the World Baseball Softball family to the great city of Gaborone. “Elections will be held for positions within WBSC Baseball and WBSC Softball:WBSC Baseball: There are 15 nominated candidates for seven available posts; the candidates represent 14 countries and territories, including Australia, Belgium, China, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Panama, San Marino, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey and United States of America. WBSC Softball: There are 22 nominated candidates for seven available posts; the candidates represent 16 countries and territories, including Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Colombia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Turkey, United States of America and Venezuela.
The WBSC Congress agenda also includes meetings of the WBSC Executive Board, the WBSC Baseball Executive Committee, the WBSC Softball Board of Directors, the Continental Baseball and Softball Confederations, the Francophone Association of Baseball Softball (AFBS), and various Commissions.
HOSTING AND AWARDS
Future hosts of the Baseball World Cups and Softball World Championships will be awarded, including the rights to host next year’s U-15 Baseball World Cup, U-23 Baseball World Cup and Women’s Baseball World Cup.
WBSC will announce the following award winners (2014-2017):
National Federation of the Year
Baseball Player of the Year
Softball Player of the Year
National Team Baseball Coach of the Year
National Team Softball Coach of the Year
New members will also be inducted into the WBSC Softball Hall of Fame.
Long time Botswana Softball Association (BSA) president Tirelo Mukokomani is allegedly on his way out of the association he has led for years. The BSA elective assembly is expected sometime next year where a new leader is expected to emerge.
Mukokomani confirmed his place to depart from the BSA executive committee in a meeting this week. “I have served my time, somebody can take it to the next level.” After leading the BSA for six years he said he regretted leaving the association before introduction of baseball structures in the country. However, Scania as Mukokomani is known in softball circles vowed to increase the number of women officials and coaches before the end of his term. Nonetheless, the sports administrator did not want to share his future endeavour beyond the BSA.
The BSA president could not be drawn into discussing the African and Olympic qualifiers next year. Nevertheless he sounded like a worried man over the matter. “There is too much politics in Botswana sports. You never know peoples agenda and motives,” he said. Mukokomani, who will leave behind an illustrious sports administration career, took a swipe at some sport leaders and accused them of being in sports for personal gains. However, Mukokomani said with adequate preparations, the local ladies softball team has potential to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.
Meanwhile, BSA vice president Katlholo Mosimanegape is seen by many as the natural successor to Mukokomani. In a brief interview this week, Mosimanegape said it was too early to discuss the issue of succeeding Mukokomani. “I will talk to you when I am ready”. Another likely successor to Mukokomani is Masego Kwapa who challenged the incumbent at the last elective assembly. However Kwapa was said to be busy building her team when reached for comment. The team was formed as a breakaway group from Dinare. Those close to the sport argue that Kwapa should direct more energy to the club, which needs a lot of energy and direction.
Meanwhile, this year is key to the BSA as they are expected to host the eagerly anticipated World Baseball Softball Congress in Gaborone. Presidents for the two world federations, Baseball Division Executive Director Michael Schmidt and Softball Division Executive Director, Ron Radigonda, were in the country earlier this year to inspect the proposed conferencing facilities and to assess preparations on part of the BSA.
The 15th WBSC Men's Softball World Championship, scheduled for Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, from 7-16 July, has announced the 24 umpires including one who will officiate at the competition.
The 24 men will make up the on-field umpiring crews. The competition is made up of 15 countries. Local umpire Abel Mataboge and the South African Ashley Mmakola will be the only African umpires at the competition. Mataboge will soon be jetting out of the country to officiate at the WBSC 2016.
The 36- year old Mataboge who hails from Mochudi recently officiated at the WBSC junior men World championships in 2016, in Midland Michigan in USA. Mataboge, who is also the BSA umpire in chief since 2010, started umpiring in 2002 after a short playing career as a catcher and shortstop. Mataboge played for his home club Mochudi Riders from 1997 to 2007.
The local umpire has officiated at four world championships, but missed the women senior championships in Holland in 2013 due to poor communication and funds. He also officiated at the previous championships at the highest level, making it to the finals of the competitions and the semis respectably.
The softball official dreams of making it to Rio later this year. “My ambition is to officiate at the Olympics and to become ISF assessor and to also help other Batswana to acquire level five certificate in Umpiring”, he said. The local official is the only umpire among the 16 umpires across the globe to come from the African continent.
The Kgatleng born made his international umpiring debut in 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa between USA and China. Mataboge umpired at WBSC missed competitions through to the last stages, Parana, Argentina finals in 2013 and 2015 Whitehorse Canada, and then he officiated the bronze medal stage in 2016, in Michigan, USA. The 2016 games is among the history making for Botswana U19 boys team as national team pitcher Gideon Puaka was rated the fastest at the competition.