Botswana sports administrators want alcohol ban lifted

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Gaborone - Botswana's sports administrators have urged the new government to re-consider what they see as a crippling ban on alcohol sponsorship and advertising in sports.
The government banned alcohol companies from advertising or sponsoring sports, arguing it was against promoting healthy living.
But faced with crippling financial challenges, and a stagnant grant from the government, sports leaders say one way out is to allow alcohol companies back into the game.
New Botswana President, Mokgweetsi Masisi has already promised to review alcohol policies, which have been adversely affecting the industry, leading to job losses. 
Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) chairperson, Solly Reikeletseng, told the media that the ban must be lifted. “We need sponsors and alcohol companies are some of the biggest sponsors. The alcohol industry can assist in supporting sports,” he said.
Reikeletseng has in the past, been critical of the government's grant, which has remained stagnant for years, with only marginal increases.
The government gives the BNSC around P70million annually, to redistribute among 40 national sports associations, a figure seen as insignificant.
The private sector has not been forthcoming, leaving sports to rely heavily on the government grant.
BNSC chief executive officer, Tuelo Serufho, said the government should channel some of the funds from the state's Alcohol Levy, towards sports development. “Many of the issues around alcohol and drug abuse could be addressed through sports,” he said.
Serufho said sport has the potential to keep the youth away from alcohol and other social ills. 
Among sport disciplines that were adversely affected by the government's decision to ban alcohol advertising and sponsorship, were soccer and karate.
Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), the country's sole alcohol beverages brewer, used to sponsor the Botswana Premier League through its Castle and St Louis brands.
Karate used to benefit from KBL's Carling Black Label sponsorship for its annual championships.
Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) president, Tshepho Bathai said with budget cuts from the government grant, alcohol companies should be allowed to step in. 
“There have been budget cuts from the BNSC this year but if we had sponsorships (from alcohol companies) they could take us forward,” Bathai said, citing the example of South Africa where alcohol companies are allowed to assist sports.
Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) president, Lesedi Keekae argues healthy living can be promoted without necessarily imposing crippling bans.  
He said oil companies, for instance, set aside funds for green projects to assist communities to deal with negative impacts.
“Alcohol is as bad as fizzy drinks by the way. It is the same as burning fuel pollutes the environment but their proceeds are accepted,” Keekae said.

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