The Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) has been forced to trim the Africa Youth Games (AYG) squad travelling to Algiers, Algeria due to a tight budget.
The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development gave the BNOC P4million, which is below what was requested. Although BNOC chief executive officer, Tuelo Serufho did not specify how much they had requested, he said the P4million is lower than what they had expected.
As a result, some codes like karate were left crying foul as their slots were affected.
Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) public relations officer, Isaiah Ramontshonyana said initially, they had a team of 14 athletes, which was reduced to four at the instruction of BNOC. He said the team was further cut down to two athletes, a boy and a girl.
“That decision dampened the mood in the camp. Athletes were left wondering as to who was going and who was staying. The team is going without a manager, which is a strange thing in karate,” he said.
Ramontshonyana said a karate team manager has an important role of dealing with certain issues when they arise such as complaints by a karateka during competition. He said a coach cannot lodge a complaint when another karateka is competing. He said karate did well during the 2014 Gaborone Youth Games and that should have been taken in consideration.
“We wanted to include karatekas who would be competing at AYG to be part of the UFAK Championship to be held in September. Our plans are now mixed up,” said a disappointed Ramontshonyana.
Alex Rankgwe of Botswana Weightlifting Association (BWA) said judokas were never in camp due to lack of funds. He said they had put a request
“The request was turned down due to insufficient funds. The team went for competition in Port Elizabeth during the South African Youth and Junior Weightlifting Championships last week. We won gold and silver in the 58kg category,” Rankgwe said.
Weightlifting team is made up of two girls, Magdelene Moyengwa and Nicole Sebapadi. Rankgwe said there are no boys in the team as they have graduated to the senior side. Judo is sending a team of four judokas instead of six while athletics submitted a team of 16, which is still to be confirmed.
The AYG team would be unveiled in Gaborone on Tuesday next week.
Serufho said Botswana is sending 51 athletes to Algiers, the biggest the country has sent to the games. He said they had a provisional team but the current numbers have been finalised.
“We came up with the team looking at the quota from AYG organisers. We do not deal with individual codes. The quota that we received was a maximum of two boys and two girls per individual codes,” he said.
The BNOC chief said the number of the team also depended on the budget. Serufho said there was a certain criteria that had to be followed in order for an athlete to make the cut. He said for individual codes, they looked at athletes who had qualified for the Youth Olympic Games and those who stand a chance of qualifying. He said others are being given exposure.