President of the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA), Thari Mooketsi has accused the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) of sidelining the athletics body since the successful Commonwealth Games campaign in Gold Coast, Australia.
The country won five medals, the highest since the first participation in 1974, but the BAA, who produced the winners, now feels neglected after the team’s success.
Mooketsi said they worked together with the BNOC in Gold Coast, but now everything has changed.
Mooketsi said the BNOC has failed to inform nor include the BAA in the team’s activities since returning from the games. “I am now surprised that it is now something else. We are not being informed about what is going on.
If they are communicating through e-mail, invitations should be sent to the secretary general, but when you ask him, he is not aware of anything,” he said.
Mooketsi said he understands that people are still excited but warned things might turn sour. He said he always complains about lack of communication and that BAA and BNOC should work hand in glove.
“Right now we do not even know when the team left camp.
We see companies rewarding athletes, we do not know anything about it and we are not part of it.
Even the team manager who travelled with the team is not part of it,” said a disappointed Mooketsi.He said BAA has not enquired about what was going on as BNOC is expected to adhere to laid down procedure.
“They run management courses, teach people and now they are doing the opposite. Some hopeless preachers say, ‘do as I say, do not do what I do’. Legendary soul music singer, Barry White says ‘practice what you preach’. I wonder where they belong,” he added.
Mooketsi said they only hear from other people and the media about the athletes’ incentives.
He said it is painful for him as a leader to be left in the dark.
He said it is important for BAA to be recognised. Mooketsi said even the way the incentives are paid out is not according to agreed policy.
He said a relay comprises six athletes and when only four are rewarded, it causes conflict. He said it might lead to a situation where athletes refuse to be taken
He said this has happened before and as BAA executive committee, they will meet next week to discuss the issue and find ways to engage the BNOC.
Mooketsi said they could only work properly if they take each other’s role seriously. He argued that BNOC should not only think about BAA when they need their assistance.
“Somebody told me that BNOC does things the way they want and they do not care about protocol. There are many issues that we want to talk about with BNOC. I know they are going to be angry when they see your article but what I am saying is nothing but the truth,” he said. Mooketsi said athletics should not be destabilised when it’s doing its best. “Athletes are being given incentives, how about coaches and managers? Those athletes did not mould themselves. Those companies should put money on development so that we have future stars,” he said.
Mooketsi cautioned that the trend would happen to another code that would bring medals. “What is happening now is an indication that they do not respect athletics. I wonder what their board is saying,” he lashed out.
Responding to BAA, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Kago Ramokate said they do not have a say on who attends.
“We do not determine who attends. We have nothing against BAA. What should have happened is that BNOC and us should have been reminded that we are not together. When BNOC took athletes to Gold Coast, it took them from BAA and wherever athletes are, they should be together,” he said.
Ramokate said he would discuss the matter with Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and find out what went wrong. He said it is an issue that could be managed.