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Magang, Serufho clash over athletes support

CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
Serufho PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) chief executive officer, Tuelo Serufho and Tsoseletso Magang, the founder of Open Discussion with Magang have differed on support to athletes.

Magang spoke to Mmegi Sport in the wake of social media uproar following the latest edition of her programme, held last week Thursday.

Top athlete, Isaac Makwala had, during the programme, argued there was lack of psychological support for athletes.

Magang said while they agreed with BNOC’s support for athletes, more needed to be done in light of what Makwala said.

“The Discussion was trying to establish what intervention BNOC had put in place, given the situation we find ourselves in as alluded to by Isaac Makwala. For instance, he shared information on the newly appointed sport science and sport medicine interim team that is to provide guidance to Tokyo athletes.  Was the committee directed to provide guidance and assistance during this period, especially of lockdown? Magang argued that if the committee were in touch with Makwala, they would have assigned a psychologist to attend to him and other athletes. 

“I mentioned that the BNOC president and CEO sit on the Botswana National Sport Commission  (BNSC) board. That means the board chairman should be privy to the benefits that athletes receive. He probably did not speak to them because he knows that athletes would be receiving the support whether lockdown or not. He could have easily countered what Makwala was stating, but instead he admitted to not providing the support required by athletes specific to a time that we find ourselves in,” Magang said.

She said it was unfortunate that Serufho made it appear as if she did not appreciate BNOC’s work.

“But he knows very well that I do and I am aware of most things he outlined. (But) Not to the detail of someone inside or receiving such benefits. He also started questioning my intervention at Botswana Football Association  (BFA), which honestly has nothing to do with Makwala’s displeasure with BNOC’s support during this time,” she said.

Magang also said she was not questioning nor doubting anyone’s leadership ability. But just saying they should be honest with addressing the athletes’ cry for support so that they were in the same page with what they were going to face when they get back to competition.

“I spoke to the CEO about the need to

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train our athletes in public speaking because I asked Makwala twice in the Discussion what kind of support they are receiving from stakeholders, even mentioning BNOC and MYSC, but he did not speak to the benefits and support from companies like Mascom. If he had been trained in public speaking he would know when to grab any opportunity to thank such stakeholders. Instead the CEO went off talking about financial training that they do with Brand Botswana,” Magang said.

She stated that the objective of the Open Discussion was for her to create a platform for sport people to engage in topical areas of sport.

Athletics coach, Justice Dipeba believes that enough is not being done for sport in the country.

“We are riding on luck. Our expectations are very high but we are putting little and hope for miracles. We are still working with volunteer coaches while other countries are working with full time staff (technical, medical). I hear people were given the impression that I was a hired coach, I laughed,” Dipeba said.

In his response, Serufho, writing on his Facebook page, said the mistake that Magang made was failure to invite the BNOC to the discussion.  The least she could have done, Serufho said, was to contact the BNOC for its position, since she knew that a sizable part of the discussions were going to centre around Olympic Games and elite athletes.

“To show you that we care about our athletes and do not only show up when they win medals: One of our top athletes recently racked up medical bills amounting to £7980.00 while competing in a prize winning competition that did not form a part of our programme.

Not withstanding these circumstances, we covered the expenses as for us it was important the athlete got back to tip-top condition quickly, for his own good and indeed in the interest of our nation,” he said.

Serufho also said there is an athlete who is in hospital who got involved in a car accident outside of the national team camp. He said BNOC was still assisting him financially and otherwise notwithstanding the circumstances that led to the accident.

 



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