Since 2012, the Bokgoni Sporting Club in Francistown, Botswana — a Mennonite Mission Network partner — has offered young people a healthy alternative to spending their free time on the streets.
The Bokgoni Sporting Club buzzed with excitement on March 26. Four teams of 20 players each were participating in a women's netball tournament, a sport similar to basketball. A large crowd of community spectators enjoyed refreshments and social interaction, while cheering for their favorite teams.
For the past decade, a group of talented and dedicated young people in Francistown, Botswana, has been reaching out to their peers through sports. In 2012, they formed the Bokgoni Sporting Club to offer an alternative to spending their free time on the streets and developing habits that often lead to excessive alcohol consumption, drug use and risky sexual activity. Mennonite Mission Network has partnered with this ministry by providing personnel and grants.
In addition to offering coaching in netball, soccer and volleyball — sports that encourage teamwork, self-discipline and leadership capability — the club teaches life skills through volunteer-led workshops, to help people take charge of their own lives.
"Our programs are designed to instill the members with the self-confidence to become leaders in their communities, homes and workplaces," said Mothusi Kenosi, Bokgoni Sporting Club's director.
The women's netball team is especially popular. Every evening of the week, Bokgoni coaches offer netball training, not just to club members, but to anyone interested in participating. Investors and employers frequent the club to look for potential workers who are motivated to develop their abilities.
"If young women have a safe environment where they can network, socialize and refresh from their daily issues, [this] gives [them] opportunities, not only to mingle, but the possibility of employment, especially because most of our youth are unemployed, or barely earning enough," Kenosi said.
During the March tournament, Bokgoni trainers also talked about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, road safety, and how to deal with stress and anxiety.
"It was a jubilee and fun-filled day," Kenosi said. "This benefited not only the spectators in attendance but also the members of the club, as sports refresh not only the physical body but the mind, too."
Bokgoni Sporting Club's next public event will be May 22 when they will partner with a local fitness club.
"We hope to keep all out-of-work and school youth engaged in healthy habits through sports, and thus, we will map out more activities, as they pull in large crowds," Kenosi said.
Kenosi's long-term dream is to start agricultural projects in community parks that are currently neglected.
"Mothusi is a fine example of a servant leader, and he has a huge vision for the transformation of people's lives," said Steve Wiebe-Johnson, Mission Network's co-administrator for Africa and Europe. "He is an athlete, who has worked through sports to empower and equip the lives of young people."