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Athletics' talent conveyor belt jams up

Rare talent: Sibanda is a product of the School of Excellence
Botswana has a remarkable record of churning out prodigious athletics talent. However, of late the conveyor belt that has delivered countless stars appears to have jammed, Staff Writer, CALISTUS KOLANTSHO observes

Athletics has been widely recognised for an unmatched development programme. The Centre of School of Excellence (CSE) at Good Hope Secondary School has always been a beacon of hope, where athletics is nurtured.

It is where the likes of Baboloki Thebe and Karabo Sibanda honed their skills. Today, Bernard Olesitse is the only notable talent at the centre. The departure of Mogomotsi Otsetswe from the centre spelt doom for athletics development.

Letsile Tebogo of Gaborone Senior Secondary School is one of athletics’ rising stars after setting the national junior record of 20.72secs in 200m. Thebe had long held the record with 20.85secs, which he set during the second African Youth Games at the National Stadium.

The stuttering CSE has robbed athletics of an uninterrupted production of young talent.

The athletes used to stay together and train together. It has proved difficult to develop athletes when they are in different areas across the country.

After the departure of Otsetswe, the CSE was dealt a further blow when the duo, Oagile Monone and Lebone Moreri, who where also coaches, were transferred.Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) sport development officer, Gable Garenamotse was also moved to Serowe.

Athletics coach, Brendan Tautsagae told Mmegi Sport that athletics is in a sad state.

“To some extent, I would say that the crop of Thebe and Sibanda was rare to find. It is not every year that you come across such calibre. We had a pool of athletes, some of whom fell by the wayside,” he said.

Tautsagae said when Sibanda and Thebe emerged, Otsetswe was deployed to Good Hope, which he believed was the best step.

“Allow me to respect the people there and say there are coaches, but they have not been trained. It is just passion-driven. Obviously you cannot compare that to someone like Otsetswe,” he added. Tautsagae said gathering all the talent in one place but fail to deploy a trained coach, is as good as having not such a programme.

“But we must admit that the new BAA administration has only been in office since June last year, and this year has never allowed sport to run as planned, so it would be a bit unfair to point

a finger at them,” he said.

Tautsagae said development should be systematic and it should come as a result of planning. He said it must first be conceived as a plan, which would guide the road map.

“…a road map how we would get to the results and be able to have targets. Results that come by accident or by default should never define our way of doing things. And we should guard jealously against losing our talent to the streets,” Tautsagae said.

National team coach, Justice Dipeba said there is nothing in place to address athletes’ development.

“As long as we are still working with volunteers (coaches and teachers) we are always going to have this kind of situation where athletes come in instalments. We saw Thebe and Sibanda because there was a coach in place,” he said.

He said when Nijel Amos rose to prominence, there was a teacher behind his emergence. Dipeba said those are the people who most of the time are sacrificing their time and resources, so sometimes it is difficult for them to keep up the momentum.

“We need structures in place to address that. We need to employ and not depend on volunteers,” Dipeba said.

BAA vice president, Oabona Theetso said the dearth of school sport is the cause of the situation they find themselves in.

“There is no coach in Good Hope since the departure of Otsetswe, but athletes are placed there annually,” he said.

BNSC technical director, Bobby Gaseitsiwe said they have not found a coach for the CSE. However, he said they would be recruiting coaches soon. Gaseitsiwe said they are still engaging with codes on the matter.

But Theetso said they were not aware of the BNSC decision to hire a coach.

“What is our input as BAA since we are the custodians of athletics in the country? Are we part of the recruitment process? Whose mandate are we pushing? I am not alive to that new development. If it is true, then I think things are not being done properly,” Theetso said.




The boy who used to cry

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