Gaborone — Dog racing is literally a new sport in Botswana though countries such as Ireland have been involved in greyhound racing from 1927.
Botswana caught up with the rest of the world when Johnson Petso, Piet Gabosekwe, Kebone Sephatla, Oarabile Simon, Brendan Tautsagae registered Botswana Greyhound Association (BGA) in 2014.
BGA's has its first show in August 2016 during the National Agricultural Show at Sebele showground and never looked back.
They staged other competitions in Mmopane and Lorwana with the aim of taking the sport to the people. BGA chairperson, Andre Van Zyl said in an interview that they formed the association because they were cognizant of the fact that greyhound was a dog largely used by farmers.
He said following stringent laws on hunting they could not just get rid of hounds and instead came up with something that they could do with them. He said they loved the dogs because they were friendly to people. The race according to Van Zyl was born after realising its popularity in other countries and a benchmarking mission ensued in South Africa, where the race was also popular.
"Well in South Africa they gave us ideas and we bought a machine from them and started our race in 2014," he said.
Van Zyl said as the association grew, they bought a start box, and tried to lure more greyhound breeders to join in and ultimately introduce their dogs to the track. "We should have fun with our greyhounds without breaking any law. That is our main aim; to put our dogs into good use," he said.
He however, said they were faced with a myriad of challenges, such as preparing a conducive track for the dogs.
Preparing a suitable track for the dog, he said needed machinery that would enable them to remove trees and other unwanted elements likely to cause injuries to the dogs during competition.
He said greyhound races were run on sand and the surface should be comfortable to avoid injuries.
Van Zyl said as greyhound trainers, they shunned people who did not take care of their dogs. He further condemned those using rabbits to train their dogs and teaching them to be aggressive.
He said rabbit training was against the rules and put the sport in bad light. "The other issue is that some people don't look after their dogs, some bring wounded dogs to the competitions," he said.
Serious breeders, Van Zyl said took serious care of their dogs by feeding them with pellets mixed with meat. He said many did not understand the sport hence finding sponsors was not easy.
He said Agrifeed had supported them in the past.
Source : BOPA