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Double blow for athletics' Centre of Excellence

CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
Goodhope Senior Secondary School, an athletics Centre of Sport Excellence, has suffered a double blow after two coaches were transferred, a move that has left the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) shocked.

Oagile Monone and Lebone Moreri have been transferred to Kanye’s Bathoen Junior Secondary School and Montshiwa JSS in Pitsane respectively.

The school has produced top athletes including Onneile Phokedi, Oarabile Tshosa and Masego Seloke, who participated at the recent Region V Youth Games Gaborone 2018. Phokedi was part of the 4x400m boys relay team that scooped a gold medal in the regional tournament.

Monone told Mmegi Sport that his departure from Goodhope is a blow to the project.

“I was one of the people who started the project in 2008, I was then transferred to Moshupa. I returned to Goodhope in 2016. In August this year, I was transferred to Kanye,” he said.

He said students at Goodhope, who were part of the athletics project, train all year round unlike other athletes who train per season. He said now they are left without a coach.

Monone said together with Moreri, they had identified an individual who had passion for coaching, but the skills transfer process has now been disrupted by their departure.

“That school has facilities and what is required is people with relevant skills to utilise them,” he said.

For his part, Moreri said their absence is already being felt. He observed that during the Region V Games, there was a decline in the athletes’ performance.

“My former athletes are already feeling the pinch. Phokedi does not run sub 48.  I last trained them in the first week of September,” he said.

Moreri said he could still assist, but the challenge is time and cost.

However, Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) director, sport development-technical, Bobby Gaseitsiwe down played the developments at Goodhope.

“There

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are teachers who are always willing to assist. We acknowledge what teachers are doing to harness the talent that we have. We encourage them to do that through Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) structures,” he said.

Gaseitsiwe said the BAA would recommend the replacement for Monone and Moreri. He said BNSC funds BAA to conduct IAAF courses. BAA spokesperson, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba said the decision to transfer the two coaches came as a shock to them.

“It is a drawback for us. We are just wondering about the cooperation between government departments when these centres of excellence were set up,” said a disappointed Ramatshaba.

While there is an element of despondency in Goodhope, there are smiles in Maun, where coach, Meleko Ndolo continues to produce top talent.

“We started the Maun Athletics Club in 2015. So far the outcome has been amazing. My team did wonders during the 2017 Botswana Games. The team included Bayapo Ndori who was in the 4x400m boys relay team, which won gold at Region V games,” he said.

Ndolo said he saw Ndori’s potential when he came for training in Maun after being rejected in Tutume. Another Maun product is 800m sensation, Tshepiso Masalela.

“I first spotted him when he was a student at Makalamabedi JSS. In 2017, he started Form Four at Maun Senior School and I worked with him and this year he qualified for the World Junior Championship that were held in Finland. He has also qualified for the 2019 Doha IAAF world championship,” Ndolo said. He added that the challenge is lack of support from the Maun business community.



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