Despite the many challenges facing the growth of Hockey locally, 29-year-old Maun born Hockey Coach Conrad Ben who founded Maun Hockey Club in 2016 stays focussed to grow the sport and has since groomed many hockey players in Maun by introducing the sport in schools.
Ben believes taking the sport to the grass root levels remains the only viable way to grow and encourage followership. According to Ben, the biggest challenge facing Hockey remains lack of sponsorship and lack of general support.
Reflecting on his journey as a hockey Coach, Ben told Times Sport that it all started in 2011 as a player for Morula Hockey Club in Selebi- Phikwe. It was here that he gained technical match skills and experience as a student at the University of Botswana.
His passion for the game was then amplified in 2016 when he moved back to Maun where the sport was non-existent. He then saw it fit to transition from being just an athlete to a coach, leading to the formation of Maun Hockey Club.
Ben added that the Botswana Hockey Association assisted him gain International Hockey Federation (IHF) certification and further provided him with the tools that he needed to enable the people in Maun community to play hockey.
Ben has explained that patience has made him the good coach that he is, which was also instrumental in him investing in his players’ wholesome development on and off the court.
Some of major achievements through his career include receiving African Hockey Development Coaching L1, Introducing hockey to Botswelelo, Moremi and Thamalakane Primary Schools Liaison to the Botswana Hockey Association (BHA) as Regional Development Coordinator.
He also became the BNOC Olympic Solidarity recipient, hosted Independence Day Hockey Festival in 2018, receiving Hockey Technical Coaching L2, Re Ba Bona Ha exhibition hockey match in partnership with BNSC, umpiring at CHOPS U13 hockey festival under Matshwane Primary, BHA National Women’s Team Manager and founding Francistown Falcons Hockey Club.
“Hockey in Botswana has a history before my introduction to the sport, but when I came into the national scene, I discovered that hockey is indeed somewhat an exclusive sport played only in private schools, this severely limits the national athlete selection pool, therefore reducing our chances of finding our diamonds,” he pointed out.
He has posited that more needs to be done empower national coaches financially so that associations can flourish by engaging government run schools to start hockey as an extracurricular activity.
“Bringing all necessary tools to learn the sport, hosting matches, scouting athletes for national recommendation, scouting eligible athletes for technical officiating educational opportunities, developing management structures and ensuring the continuity of the sport in their absence,” he added.