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Misdirected request proves Special Olympics’ saviour

A misdirected request for funds from the Special Olympics Botswana, proved to be the ultimate saviour, after the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYSC) accidentally stumbled upon the electronic mail.

The request for P900, 000 was meant to land on the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) desk, but instead, was sent to MYSC. Special Olympics wanted to use the money to purchase tickets in order to participate at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi from March 14 to 21, 2019. MYSC then called the Olympics body to explain the contents of the letter.  “We had requested BNSC to allow us to use our grant to purchase flight tickets.

The letter ended up at the ministry and it seemed like we were requesting (the funds) from them. But during the meeting, we made it clear that we would go and request for more money if there was a shortage,” Special Olympics Botswana director, Ross Tebele said.

He said Tshekedi Khama was roped into the meeting as he was still new and had to be appraised.

He said Special Olympics were advised that they should not involve the ministry, but use their grant. MYSC instructed the BNSC to release the Special Olympics Botswana grant.

“Our budget stood at P900, 000 and our grant at BNSC was P500, 000. We have been doing our own fund raising because we had enough time for that.

These games take place every four years,” he said. Tebele said they have not yet requested BNSC to assist them with P400, 000.

He said Special Olympics are using the grant from the last financial year.

Tebele said the team would leave on March 7, 2019 in order to acclimatise. Botswana is sending a team of 48, which includes 36 athletes and coaches. Tebele said the team was picked during the national games.

He said in Special Olympics they do not select according to times recorded. “We select athletes depending on their ability. When they arrive at the competition, they would go through a process called divisions during heats,” he added.

Codes that would be competing are unified volleyball team (players with intellectual disability combined with people without any disability.) Other codes are swimming and athletics. Meanwhile, Tebele said the challenge that they have is that people in general do not understand disability sport.

“As a result when things are done, we are overlooked but they must understand that our situation is different. Our athletes are able to compete in all Olympic sports. What we do like for instance, in football instead of throwing the ball, we kick it from the touchline,” he said.

Tebele said the idea is to make sure that players are comfortable. He said there should be special treatment for special Olympians. “They just have a blanket treatment. It is our task as Special Olympics to go out and make people understand us.

By virtue of being under BNSC, we work with our codes and use the same coaches. They just have to modify the rules,” he said.




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