Building the Botswana stars of tomorrow
Our photographer from Botswana is Swift Mpoloka, founder of Pula Sports Development Association. Raised “on the field” by his father, Swift worked at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and has built the first futsal park in Botswana. Swift told us about our obligation to paint a vivid picture of possibilities to the youth of the world and belief in football as a way to inspire and motivate children.
Who is in the photos?
Through an NGO that I founded named Pula Sports Development we built the first off the grid futsal park in a low-income community named Bontleng in Gaborone. The children in the photos are from the same community and most of the images were captured at the futsal park.
What did you try to show with the photos? Was there any wider meaning with the photos?
I wanted to showcase the importance of building recreational infrastructure in low-income communities - it can create positive prevention mechanisms against social ills. If the private sector drives this form of projects we would see high impact in poor areas of the world.
Are there any good stories connected with the people or teams you photographed?
For children in these poor areas a simple photo can communicate that they matter, that their talents matter and that people notice them. Many of the children ask that one day I take them to an international stadium. Many children believe that football can give them a better life.
Why is football so important for Botswana and its people?
Football is life; it is the most affordable form of entertainment with high value. It gives you health, creates life long friendships, teaches teamwork and people skills. Only with discipline, persistency and consistency can you get to epitome of success. Therefore football teaches you LIFE!
What role does football play in Botswana?
National pride - football does not care about your skin color, creed or religion. Football is absolutely huge in Botswana from the local league right up to international football. The information era has allowed us to watch football in real time but not only that. It has been proven that football can give you life, by that I mean it can change your destiny and Batswana understand that football can birth international success.
What does football mean to you?
Football is a gift that must be nurtured and protected. What would life be without a World Cup, where the world meets to see the stars of the world battle it out over 90 minutes? Football is a tool for change, football has proven to stop wars, break racial barriers and give hope to the lost. My greatest desire is to see this nation maximize the POWER OF FOOTBALL. Football can diversify an economy, change a life and win a war. Football is God’s gift to humanity, a gift with no end.
What is the future for Botswanan football?
The future will require the help of Europe to create lasting partnerships that create skill share initiatives. The world can learn from Botswana and Botswana can learn from the world. The future is to build a bridge that allows us to absorb knowledge from the Barcelona, Ajax, Bayern Munich and Arsenals. Botswana has talent and we need to create strategies that attract and retain the football greats in order to better invest in our stars of tomorrow.