Through collaboration we strive.
On Sunday 22nd November a Community Football Tournament took place at the Maun Sports Complex in Botswana, organised by Great Plains Conservation and Sankoyo Bushbucks Football Club. The purpose of the event is to celebrate the re-opening of tourism and sport, and the benefits this brings to the communities and livelihoods in Ngamiland, North West Botswana. It is also to acknowledge and appreciate all that has been achieved over the last 8 months despite the challenges we have faced.
Great Plains (GPC) and Sankoyo Bushbucks entered into a partnership this year in the spirit of whereby GPC pledged to support the football team financially to meet their fixtures, while the players became leading conservation ambassadors in the sporting world. One of the first initiatives of the partnership was both Great Plains and Sankoyo Bushbucks participating a Maun waste clean up with the Maun Waste Warriors initiative (MWW). The MWW have achieved much during this time in challenging local companies and Maun residents to tackle problem areas as well as raising awareness around environmental pollution and innovative waste solutions in our town on the edge of the delta. Members of GPC and Sankoyo Bushbucks collaborated in cleaning up the town of Maun from rubbish on the streets and riverbanks. Maun is where the majority of our guests fly in to so we pride on keeping it clean.
At this event Great Plains were introduced to the Red Cross Society who, in discussion of the upcoming football tournament, kindly offered their services and players to be a part of the day. The Red Cross Society has been continuing their valuable humanitarian work during this time focusing on COVID-19 related issues and vulnerable members of society.
There were four football teams that participated in the tournament; the Sankoyo Bushbucks technical team, Great Plains/ Okavango Community Trust, Elephant Protection Society from Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust, and a Red Cross/ Maun Waste Warriors team. The tournament bought together many different organizations and marked a remarkable collaboration of community and conservation initiatives, coming together in the act of sport.
Bruce Petty, general manager for Great Plains, thanked the various organisations and individuals who came to the tournament and partook in the celebration. “We Great Plains and Sankoyo Bushbucks have formed a meaningful relationship with eachother and other non-governmental organisations and community based organisations during the pandemic and we wanted to celebrate the spirit of collaboration through this tournament”.
The Elephants Protection Society was founded by a Great Plains safari guide, Oaits Nawa. He set up the EPS initiative to educate communities along the fringe of the Okavango Delta on how to safely live alongside elephants so livelihoods are saved and elephants are protected and human-wildlife conflict is mitigated.
The football matches were of a high standard to the enjoyment of the crowd with many goals scored, penalties and close games. The tense final was held between the Sankoyo Bushbucks FC and the Elephants Protection Society team, resulting in a 4-3 win for the Bushbucks. There was a great atmosphere in the stadium with music playing throughout with food and drinks on offer to the spectators and participants.
Thatayaone Mmapatsi from Botswana Tourism Organisation closed the day by thanking the collaboration and community spirit of the tournament and bringing to light a new concept for Ngamiland of ‘Sports Tourism’, a product growing globally. For international guests to come to Ngamiland and as part of their trip package to spectate a sports match in the area.
The event was a success in bringing positivity through sport to a challenging year and celebrating the relationships and collaborations that have come out of this year.