By: Matthew Leidl
Another month has just about passed and it’s crazy to think that I am in the final few weeks of my internship here in Gabs. I have had so many great experiences both in and out of work, and will continue to make the most of my time left in this incredible country.
During the month of July I was able to complete a final hard copy of the BLTAD framework for the Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA)! Most of the work this month was spent at the office compiling information and data into one large document that aligns with the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) and the BTTA’s mission and values. Over the last week and a half I have had the chance to have a few phone calls with Shado from the BTTA who is the Youth Development Coordinator for the organization. These conversations allowed me to get a better sense of direction and helped to generate some more ideas on what to incorporate into the framework. Also, last week I was able to have a meeting with all of the board members from the BTTA to present the framework that I created. At this presentation I was able to receive constructive feedback and input on the work that I have done so far. Thankfully the BTTA really liked the framework that I had put together and only a few minor changes needed to be made.
As I was developing the BLTAD framework I made sure to utilize outside resources that would help support a proper framework for the BTTA. On top of the data I collected, I also looked into other countries development pathways for table tennis and their integration/transition of the sport. The main countries I looked at included China, Japan, and South Korea because they all have a table tennis sport structure that is most similar to the sport structure within Botswana. Last but not least, I made sure to reference the Canadian Sport For Life Long-Term Athlete Development (CS4L LTAD) model and Table Tennis Canada’s LTAD framework to help in the development of the BLTAD.
Finally, at the end of the month I was able to see the final framework put together in one document. Coming in at a total of 51 pages, I can confidently say that the framework has enough detail and is clear enough for the BTTA to follow and implement moving forward. After completing the framework, the last few days of July have been set aside so that I can begin to develop an accompanying action plan and budget for the BTTA.
In other work related news, Team Botswana left a couple weeks ago to compete in the 2018 African Youth Games (AYG) which are being hosted in Algiers, Algeria. The AYG is an international multi-sporting event every four years which helps to showcase young talent between the ages of 14 and 18. Over the past month and a half, members at the office have been working hard to finalize all the logistics and planning details for Team Botswana. The office has been very busy earlier this month as team uniforms and bags had to get organized and all of the required paperwork for athletes needed to be signed and filled out before they left for Algeria.
Fast forward to this coming week, the athletes will be returning home in a couple of days where a Welcome Ceremony is to be hosted by the BNOC. In preparation for this ceremony I have been assigned to a publicity and branding role working on media invites, banners, as well as social media advertising.
Away from work, I had the best month here in Africa. In the middle of July there is a 4-day long weekend that I made sure to make the most of. During this holiday a group of friends and I flew up north for the weekend to visit one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World: Victoria Falls! On the Friday we arrived we spent the day hiking around the national park in Zimbabwe before crossing the border into Zambia to view the falls from both countries.
On the Saturday I had an action packed day which began at 7am when I went White Water Rafting on the Zambezi River, which is consider to be one of the best rivers in the world to go rafting on! The experience was definitely thrilling as we paddled 20km downstream through rapids ranging from grade 1 all the way up to grade 5. Luckily we made it through all 17 rapids without tipping (can’t say that for all the rafts) or coming across any hungry hippos or crocodiles along the way.
After rafting and drying off, I ended the day by going on a helicopter ride over the falls. I truly have no words to describe the views that you get from above, and all I can say is Victoria Falls might be a little better than Niagara Falls.. Just look at the pictures!
The last adventure of my weekend involved a two day two night safari in Chobe National Park back in northern Botswana. The safari started with a boat cruise on the Chobe River followed by multiple game drives over the next two days. We were lucky enough to see the Big 4 (Rhinos complete the Big 5 but have been removed from Chobe National Park to sanctuaries because they are endangered) including lions, leopards, buffalo, and elephants. Besides the Big 4, we were able to see many animals with the most notable being zebras, giraffes, as well as the critically endangered African Wild Dog which our guide who has been working in Chobe for over ten years has only seen them twice!
Camping under the clear skies with no light pollution and listening to the sounds of elephants, hyenas, and other wildlife at night is an experience like nothing else. An African Safari is something that everyone should put on their bucket list!
Be sure to check back in a few weeks for my final post as I finish up here at the BNOC office.
Until next time,