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New athletics broom faces mammoth task

CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
Botlhale PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
There has been a change of guard at the Botswana Athletic Association (BAA). Though Paphane Botlhale dethroned Thari Mooketsi last week Saturday, to become the new BAA President, but he will discover that there is little time for celebration as a mammoth task lies ahead, argues Staff Writer, CALISTUS KOLANTSHO

A new broom sweeps clean and expectations are already high in athletics circles that new president, Botlhale, will clean the sport’s mess.

BAA is on a sick-bed, affiliates are divided as trust has diminished over the years.

The most important task at hand is for Botlhale to look for sponsorships. A well- established code such as athletics which has brought the country countless joy cannot be watching from the sidelines while other codes like football rake in sponsorships. Development of athletes should make it in Botlhale’s priority list.

The sport has seen in recent times, athletes miss out on crucial competitions such as the 2018 IAAF World Under-20 Championships, a matter that affects their growth.

Hopefully, fortunes turn around for the better under Botlhale. Across the border in Zambia, exposure has worked wonders for sprinter, Kennedy Lunchembe.

The 18 year-old is at the pinnacle of his career and recently he was awarded junior sportsman of the year at the Regional Annual Sports Awards (RASA).

Regarding the development of coaches, credit must go to the outgoing board because they trained some coaches, although there is still work to be done ahead.

The national team still has to qualify for the 2019 IAAF World Championships. It was hoped that BAA secretariat would be appointed on July 1 but that has not happened.

The BAA constitution remains incomplete as members have been working on it since 2017. The document should have been finalised and submitted to the Registrar of Societies by now. 

Botlhale, like any new leader, says he wants to take the sport to greater heights.  “It is a challenge to lead BAA but I must take

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it to the next level. I am new to athletics,” he said. Botlhale is a former national team 200m and 4X400m athlete.

He represented the country in various international competitions.

The former McConnel College student was appointed BAA treasurer from 2002 until 2011. He stated that he understands how BAA structures work and how the association relates to IAAF, Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC), Region 5 and other affiliates.

“We have affiliates such as BISA, BOPSA and BOBSA. It would be easy for me to navigate my way through,” said the 48-year-old.

Botlhale said his immediate course of action is to make sure that structures are in place.

He argues it is impossible for the association to work without structures.

However, at the moment BAA structures just exist on paper.

Regional coordinators were only voted into office over the weekend together with the board.

According to the BAA constitution, the coordinators should have been voted at regional level. Botlhale’s predecessor, Mooketsi, had a frosty relationship with the BNSC and the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYSC).

“I am not much worried about the relationship that my predecessor had with BNSC and MYSC. It is a worrying factor though but I will make sure that I introduce my plan to BNSC and ask for their support.

They are our mother body and we should work with them. I expect them to treat us differently from the previous committee,” he said.

The new board also has Tshepo Kelaotswe (vice president-technical), Raymond Phale (vice president-finance), Oabona Theetso (vice president-administration) with Doctor Mandawu, Amogelang Masugae, Keamogetse Rancholo and Mpho Bagwasi coming in as regional coordinators.



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