As October begins to wrap up, I can now take time to reflect on my experience in Botswana thus far. It amazes me how fast time can fly by during my stay here. With October ending, it now marks about the halfway point on my internship here. I have had some of the most memorable experiences of my life in Africa.
As you may remember from my last blog, my duties were to work closely with the Botswana Table Tennis Association by implementing a program in primary schools that adapts the Long-Term Athlete Development Model (LTAD). Unfortunately, due to it being the end of their school year and children writing exams, this phase must be delayed. We have now switched to working with the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA). After meeting with the organization, we have caught a grasp on their goals, which includes the long term development of athletes, as well as coaches, for the sport of tennis. So far, the BTA has been using the Botswana LTAD to help with athlete progress. From here, Ashley and I have created a rough outline of a LTAD, specifically for the sport. We are now planning to meet with the BTA once again to review our draft and confirm updates to their LTAD model. Alongside the LTAD, the BTA was also interested in increasing the number of certified coaches for tennis in the most effective way. This led us to attend the International Tennis Federation Coaches Conference that was held here in Gaborone. After attending this conference, we now have a better idea of how coaches can become certified here and where these coaches will best be suited based upon experience and certification. With this information, we can strengthen LTAD by implementing a coach’s development section to have coaches train with athletes at the most effective level.
Aside from the LTAD, we have also had the opportunity to welcome back the athletes from the Youth Olympic Games. I specifically had the duty to help with the branding and event set up of this event. From there, we were able to see how the athletes did and reflected on their time in Argentina. Another conference that we attended was the 40th anniversary celebration of the BNOC programme. We listened to how and when the BNOC started and how much it has developed over the last 40 years. For this event, I had the opportunity to assist with the branding and event set up as well.
Moving away from work, I have been spending a lot of time looking to explore more of Gabs. On Wednesdays and Fridays, I typically attend ultimate frisbee with some local and international friends that I have made here. We can spend up to 2-3 hours playing depending on how tired everyone gets! Through this, I have developed many close friends that I like to hang out with during the weekend as well.
Last week, I also decided to hike a local famous hill – The Kgale Hill. This was a hike that lasted about 45 minutes one way… but the views were spectacular! I went on this hike with Ashley and one of my American friends that I met through rugby who is here for a placement of 9 months! After reaching the top and hanging out for a while, we decided to hike back down the hill where we were confronted by a swarm of baboons! We managed to keep our distance, but the site of wild baboons was definitely a first!
As mentioned before, one of our colleagues was getting married here in Gaborone. Ashley and I were lucky enough to attend this wedding, making it my first wedding that I have ever gone to… Wow, I was extremely impressed by their traditional dances and how the wedding was organized. The wedding lasted all day into the evening, until it reached dark. It was truly an amazing experience that I will never forget.
Lastly, Ashley and I decided to go and attend the South Africa vs. New Zealand rugby game in South Africa. We took a bus from Gaborone to Pretoria and found a hostile to stay in for the night. I have never really seen rugby live before but was surprised on the atmosphere and the intensity of the game. Unfortunately, New Zealand snuck by in the final seconds, claiming victory. With that being said, it was still an incredible moment to capture such an amazing sporting event for the first time.
Overall, my experience here has been flying by way too fast. There is still so much that I want to do before I depart back home in 1.5 months. This country has been amazing! Until next time…