GREAT PLAINS’ CONSERVATION GOALS TOURNAMENT ENSURING A WIN FOR COMMUNITIES & CONSERVATION
As we run down to the Maasai Olympics in Kenya, a community sports program we have supported for many years now, I also wanted to point out our sports programs in Botswana.
We have a mantra in Great Plains: A healthy mind, in a healthy body, in a healthy environment, and it wraps it all up neatly because, without those elements, we cannot thrive. So recently, we hosted a Conservation Goals tournament in Botswana.
Conservation Goals has been a long-standing Great Plains Foundation project in Botswana. Few activities break down barriers and encourage collaboration like sports does. Conservation Goals involve sporting competitions and training clinics blending impact-driven conservation with effective community engagement. In the past, the tournaments only included football and this year was a breakthrough with a girls’ netball tournament running alongside.
Conservation Goals has a clear objective in mind: generating dialogue and action around conservation issues in Botswana. It is very subtle but starts a dialogue to take conservation messaging into the community.
Two awards are given as part of the program – one to the team with a conservation project with the best outcomes and one to the team with the most wins in that sport. Both athletic and conservation achievements are celebrated, and they are bound together.
This tournament included a football and netball team from each of the 5 Okavango Community Trust villages: Gudigwa, Beetsha, Eretsha, Gunotsoga, and Seronga. The 2022 winning football team was Gudigwa Village, with the netball winners being Eretsha Village!
As I consider the real value of this initiative, it is in perhaps being light-hearted from time to time, finding time to run and jump, getting outside, and bonding with teammates and friends. Healthy bodies stimulate healthy minds. So, we are committing today to continue the effort for sports, in Kenya and Botswana, with Zimbabwe following soon.
“The Chief was pleased that we brought the games to his villages, and this will help his people also to appreciate the works that Great Plains Conservation is doing for communities and wildlife protection in the area.”