The current Botswana senior men’s national softball and men’s under 23 teams Assistant Coach, Basiame Molatlhiwa has played a very crucial role in the development of softball in Ngamiland, having groomed and nurtured players in schools, some of whom are currently plying their trade internationally.
This as he is being transferred to the Boteti region after having worked in Ngamiland since 2000. The Motlopi born lad and a teacher by profession leaves after a 2 decade long stay in Ngamiland, which has resulted in the development of softball in the district.
Through passion and determination for softball, Molatlhiwa established the North West District softball team in 2007 that participated at the Botswana Games until 2019 when the competitions were halted.
Molatlhiwa’s role of developing the sport in Ngamiland schools has made an impactful headway as most schools revived their teams and participated in the regional competitions.
Reflecting on his journey as a coach, Molatlhiwa told Times Sport that it all started in 1996 when as a player and student at Tonota College of Education, he was appointed coach after being recognised for his hard work and passion.
Upon completion of his studies, Molatlhiwa was posted to Shakawe Junior Secondary School where he realised that there were only a few softball teams in the region.
Molatlhiwa stated that as a softball coach at the school back then, he started to recruit and train players in the sport. His efforts to develop the sport inspired other schools in the region to also take the sport seriously, and as time went by they organised regional tournaments which they used as a platform to select a team that represented the region at the Botswana Games competitions.
According to Molatlhiwa, through his tutelage the team won medals at national tournaments and gained recognition.
In 2009 he was then transferred to Tsodilo Junior School in Maun where he continued to develop and recruit more players in the school team as a coach. Molatlhiwa has revealed that he developed some softball players from Ngamiland who are currently playing softball abroad.
Apart from his involvements in the district, Molatlhiwa has coached the National Women’s under 19 team that participated at the under 18 Women’s Softball World Cup that was held in South Africa in 2011. He also coached the National Men’s under 19 team that also participated at the Junior Men’s World Softball Championships that were held in USA, Michigan in 2016.
Meanwhile, Molatlhiwa has appealed to government and the corporate world to give softball the recognition it deserves and avail resources like other code. He opined that local softball players are volunteers who do not have salary payment structures and cannot turn professionals while the sport cannot put food on their tables. Molatlhiwa also lamented that the local softball grounds are not of the required standards to develop professional players.
“I would be happy to see Botswana recognising softball for it to be professional, be it in developing good grassroots structures, making softball coaching full time career and introducing softball academies,” he said.