When sport leaders speak in forked tongues

When an athlete is asked to dig into their pocket to go and participate in an international tournament, can that be deemed progressive? What about when they have no option but to hop on to a bus for a long trip to Maputo to go and represent the country? There has been a positive trajectory on the sport front, with several pleasing results across many codes, chiefly athletics

The code has proved to be the undoubted goose that lays the golden egg and a trusted conveyor belt of endless talent. The latest wonderkid is Letsile Tebogo who recently broke the world 100m Under-20 record. But is Botswana ready to make the next step up and turn sport into a truly rewarding career for scores of youngsters who want to pursue that route? Not long ago, senior karatekas who were due to represent the country in a regional competition in Durban, South Africa, were asked to contribute towards the trip. The Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) indicated it only had money to sponsor the juniors as this dovetails with their development policy. The seniors were not worth the trouble as they are already out of the ‘deserving athletes’ bracket. But still they had to make the trip to Durban, wearing the blue, black and white colours.

How will those young athletes waiting on the wings take such news? Will they find sport appealing if they hear that their peers are being asked to pop out P7,500 to go and represent the country at an international competition? Will they forgive the sport administrators for such a state of affairs? Budding athletes are always told how much investment is being put into sport and that sport is no longer a pastime but another employment creating avenue. But how will sport create jobs if athletes are still asked to pay for their trips? Is this not an apt definition of an amateur set-up? The Botswana Football Association (BFA) has been going around, cap-in-hand, asking for donations to assist adequately prepare the Mares for their debut Africa Women’s Nations Cup finals. The association needs P7.2million with the government indicating it was looking into the request, against a background of a financial squeeze. But this has always been the story, with or without budget constraints. Sport has always received shabby treatment and occupies the back seat.

Editor's Comment
Let the law take its course

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