Botswana Darts Association (BODA) is a national body responsible for the organisation and promotion of the game of darts in Botswana. The Association was formed and registered with the Registrar of Societies in 1983 and has been affiliated to the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) since then. BODA is also affiliated to the Zone VI Federation and the World Darts Federation (WDF).
In pursuit of its number one goal - to promote darts as a competitive sport and not just a social game played in pubs, the Association mobilised teams and started a darts league in 1987 under the Hansa sponsorship from Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL). KBL had kept the darts league going for fifteen years until the 2002 season when it discontinued the sponsorship on account of budgetary constraints.
During this period the game of darts had grown from strength to strength. At the time of termination of the sponsorship BODA had registered up to twenty-five teams competing in the darts league. Thirteen of the teams were competing in the southern region, covering Gaborone, Lobatse and Jwaneng, while twelve teams were competing in the northern region, covering Mahalapye, Serowe, Selibe Phikwe, Francistown and Orapa.
BODA together with other darts associations in the region started the first Zone VI Darts Championships in Boipuso Hall in 1989. The Championships has been running continuously since then and Botswana has been a regular participant and all of them. BODA took Botswana to the World Darts Championships for the first time in South Africa, Durban in 1999.
BODA has mini leagues divided into two regions, one in the north with Francistown as administration centre and one in the south with Gabvorone as the administration centre. A total of twenty teams have been registered to participate in these mini leagues. Ten of the teams participate in the north while ten participate in the south. Occasionally these teams meet in national tournaments.
BODA has a development plan filed with the Botswana National Sports Council. The implementation of a development plan has its own challenges. Like many small codes BODA does not have an office from which to operate. Similarly, BODA affiliates/darts teams do not have suitable venues from which to play their games and appeal to a wide spectrum of spectators.
Often the easily accessible venues are pubs that unfortunately do not help the sport to shed away its legacy of being perceived as a pass time pub sport. As such, the sport grows very slowly as it takes a lot of time for such people as students, women and even non-drinking men to be attracted to the sport. Again, lack of funds makes it difficult to successfully develop the sport. The implementation of the development plan is currently entirely dependent on the Botswana National Sports Council sub version funding.
At its early stages of development, BODA took a deliberate decision to avoid taking the game into schools in search for young talent choosing to spend most of its efforts in trying to improve the image of the sport and getting it acceptable to the public including some of the previous leaders of BNSC. The Association believes that to some extent it has made strides in improving the image of the sport. However, since the inception of the Zone VI Darts Championships, BODA has always selected taken boys and girls teams to the championships. BODA is now working with the Botswana Institutions Sports Associations (BISA) with a view to take the game into schools.
Lack of sponsorship
BODA has a number of problem areas paramount of which is the limitation of funds. Since losing the KBL sponsorship, the Association has not been able to sustain league activities. As a result some teams have disbanded. In order to revive the sport the Association has been reduced to playing mini leagues financed by funds from occasional tournaments and teams participation fees.
Darts, just like most sporting codes runs the danger of becoming dormant in the likely event that government decides to discontinue putting money into sports. The challenge for the sport is sustainability in the midst of lack of funds.
Lack of growth
The sport took off very well when it started in the 80’s through the mid 1990s. However, from the late 1990s to date, it became apparent that the sport was not growing. The number of teams and even players within those teams was not changing much. That situation spells danger for the sport and the challenge is finding the trick to grow the sport.
The legacy of a pub sport
Despite the amount of effort that the Association has put into developing the sport beyond the pub, there are still those who will unfairly criticize the sport without even making an effort to follow it and discover how it has developed because the truth is that the sport has made quite significant progress.
Declining spirit of volunteerism
Darts grew from nothing to where it is toady through the contributions of those that love the game. Unfortunately as life continues to get difficult and everything costly, the number of people prepared to volunteer diminishes. It is high time that the sport could be having facilities such as an office equipped with administrative facilities and even a full time person looking after the sport. However, the lack of finances make such a requirement impossible. Similarly, lack of good venues, outside pubs, at which the sport can be played have a negative impact on the recruitment efforts.
Ms Machena Robert
Botswana Darts Association
P.O. Box 3146