The Botswana Tertiary Student Sports Association (BOTESSA) Vice Secretary-General Botho Lilian Thobega has been awarded FISU Gender Equality champion at the 37th FISU General assembly held online on the 30th of October.

 A member of BOTESSA since 2017 and Senior Lecturer at Gaborone Technical College, Botswana, Lilian Thobega spearheaded the BOTESSA Women in Sports Commission Interim Committee as an Ex Officio member – Developed the strategic plan, terms of reference and scope of work for the commission. 

The FISU Gender Equality Award was set up in 2009 to bring sport issues to light and recognise existing activities in the University Sport Movement, intended to accomplish gender equality in sport. 

A bi-annually award with the expectation to advance the progression of gender equality in sport and recognise extraordinary endeavors and accomplishments to expand the participation of women, yet in addition, non-binary and transgender individuals, in sports at all levels, both on and off the field of play the candidates were selected for their exemplary work in our university sports system.

After six successful editions of the Gender Equality Award, the FISU Gender Equality Committee (GEC) proposed in 2020 to expand the honors, to not just recognise Higher Education Institutions/Universities, National University Sports Federations (NUSF), and Continental Associations (CUSF) who have created extraordinary activities intended to progress and accomplish Gender Equality in Sports but to likewise recognise people in the University sports movement, who have put forth critical attempts to progress and accomplish gender equality in University Sports in their nation, continent or globally.

The other awardees for the 2021 FISU Gender Equality Champion award are :


Lakshika Madhushani

  • Senior Lecturer, Department of Sport Sciences and Physical Education in Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka
  • Editorial Board member- Olimpianos, Journal of Olympic Studies
  • Voluntary Key Coordinator at the National Olympic Committee Sri Lanka (voluntary position)
  • Former National Volleyball Player and former Captain of University of Kelaniya Volleyball team
  •  Awarded Asia’s Outstanding Young Sport Academic Award 2020-21
  •  Winner of IOC Solidary Scholarship to complete a Master’s degree in Olympic Studies at German Sport University
  • Youngest academic (at 24 years), regardless of gender, in Sport Management in Sri Lanka
  •  Olimpianos


Kylie Bloodworth

  • Member Relationship Manager, UniSport Australia
  •  Since 2019 has led UniSport Australia’s Social Inclusion and Diversity Strategy
  •  Developed UniSport’s transgender guidelines for sport participation
  • Kylie’s knowledge has enabled UniSport to become a leader in gender inclusion and diversity and further enhanced UniSport’s reputation as a National University Sports Federation. This has enabled UniSport to support the university members and provide them with:
  •  Education opportunities for gender-related courses
  •  Gender equality resources
  • Access to opportunities and leadership in the gender inclusion area.
Kylie Bloodworth

Beth Garner

  • National Women and Girls Football Development Officer, British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS)
  • Former Sports Club Coordinator at University of Brighton, where she was awarded a ‘Women of Impact Award’ as a result of her work championing equality for students across university clubs
  • Former President of University of Nottingham Women’s Football Club
  • Former Deputy Vice-Chair of the Inclusion Advisory Group for Sussex County FA
  • Responsible for two national workforce development programmes: The Women’s Football President network and the FA Women’s Leadership Programme
Beth Garner

Beth’s main focus is to utilise football as a vehicle to enhance lives, creating more participation opportunities for female students to engage with institutions across the UK. This is delivered through embedding three minimum operating standards across Institutions that support opportunities to play ‘for fun’, ‘for competition’ and ‘to lead or volunteer’. Beth has been able to embed these standards across 70 institutions and as a result, BUCS exceeded FA participation targets by 93% engaging 8,546 new female participants into football 19-20.

Maria Belen Varvajal Pena

  • Professor of Physical Education at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso Chile
  •  FIFA International Referee since 2010
  •  First female referee to officiate a Chilean professional football match 2018
  • First Chilean female referee to participate in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, France 2019
  • Chilean National Football Team- Copa America, Argentina 2006
  • Manager of the Women’s Futsal Team, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso Chile
Maria Belen Varvajal Pena

Mandla Gagayi

  • Only male nominated for the award
  • Sports Director University of the Western Cape, South Africa
  • At UWC he has introduced policies that allow for women to be represented at all sporting platforms, including leadership structures
  • Former University Women’s Football Coach in South Africa
  • His support for Women in Sport was recognised by Amnesty International who awarded him an Award for Social Change in 2009
  • Received the Rhodes University Vice Chancellor’s Award for Community engagement for his effort in establishing school leagues (netball and football) in communities of Grahamstown and Port Alfred

 The award took place in the FISU 37th general assembly and its first online gathering with 174 member National University Sports Federations (NUSF) eligible to participate in three days from October 29th to 31st.