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Chinese support initiative

By Pako Lebanna

GABORONE - The Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture this week received 300 soccer balls from the Chinese Embassy to support the constituency league.

Receiving the balls youth, sport and culture minister Mrs Gladys Kokorwe expressed gratitude for the support the Chinese continued to give the government.

Mrs Kokorwe told the Chinese Ambassador Mr Ding Xiaowen that the constituency league was President Lt Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s initiative designed to promote grass-root development of football as well as keeping youth meaningfully engaged.

“Football as the most popular sport, needs to be promoted at community level through partnerships with various stakeholders and we are indeed grateful to receive support from the government of the People’s Republic of Botswana,” she said.

She assured the ambassador that the soccer balls would be put to good use for enjoyment of young citizens in their various communities.

She also mentioned that the Chinese Embassy was the first to heed government call when they donated 12 soccer balls on May 23.

She said following her appeal to them on July 9 when she was informed that government needed 1562 soccer balls to implement the constituency league the Chinese Government pledged 300 soccer balls.

“This donation brings the total number of soccer balls to a little over 400.”

Giving a vote of thanks, Director of Sport and Recreation, Mr Falcon Sedimo praised the Chinese government, saying it was a “true partner in development of the Republic of Botswana.”

He said at the time the Chinese donated 12 soccer balls perhaps that was a result of lack of clarity on the number of soccer balls needed for the league, adding that more than 1560 soccer balls were required to operationalise the initiative.

To date, Mr Sedimo said the Japanese embassy had donated 96 soccer balls, the Nigerian High Commission had pledged P1500, and the Cuban Embassy had promised more balls while the French Embassy had committed to purchase soccer balls this month.

Speaking in an interview Mr Ding said since Botswana was not as densely populated as China, there is enough room for community based recreational activity across the country.

He said China recently successfully hosted the Olympic Games, and the country’s support for African sport, especially at the grassroots level had been appreciated across the continent.

He said China was a friend to Botswana and other parts of Africa, saying the country assists in different areas such as political, economic, social and cultural. “We have an interest in promoting the development of sport and the balls we are donating will help in assisting the youth of Botswana in developing their sporting potential.”BOPA

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