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Elite Scholarship guidelines criticised

CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
On top: Seetso is one of the best tennis players PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
The new Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Elite Scholarship Programme guidelines have met criticism as beneficiaries should be endorsed by the country’s two public schools’ sports associations.

The BNSC has informed affiliates that, for athletes to benefit from the Fund, they must amongst others, submit the scholar’s personal profile endorsed by Botswana Integrated Sport Association (BISA) and Botswana Tertiary School Sport Association (BOTESSA).

BISA president, Joshua Gaotlhobogwe told Mmegi Sport yesterday that it is a new development and they were not consulted. 

“We believe that all Batswana athletes should benefit so if BISA is to endorse, it would be unfair to those who are not in government schools. There should be a provision for other athletes to be endorsed by other Federations.

We have no records of private school students,” he said. Gaotlhobogwe said they could only endorse their own students who have been through BISA national finals.

He suggested that maybe the BNSC should be reminded to add a provision to allow all students to benefit. He added that it is the first time that they are requested to make endorsements.  The Fund was established to assist excelling athletes under 21 years to get funding to study and train, from government or any interested entity.

BNSC sports development director-technical, Bobby Gaseitsiwe admitted that they have not consulted the two associations. However, he said the two bodies are important stakeholders in sport.  When asked about students who are not part of BISA or BOTESSA, Gaseitsiwe explained that the English Medium schools body is not affiliated to BNSC. Botswana Netball Association (BONA) secretary-general, Ntebo Maplanka said she is uncomfortable with the new Elite Scholarship Programme guidelines, especially where it states that the athletes should have gone through BISA ranks.  “It is not

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inclusive because not all private schools are aligned or subscribe to BISA. There is nothing from the government that forces them to align with BISA. If you have a policy that is like that, it would leave out other Batswana students,” she said.

Maplanka said maybe the Joint Task Team on School Sport report influenced the new policy.

Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) president, Oaitse Thipe said tennis’ top players are not under BISA.

“Denzel Seetso and Mark Nawa are homeschooling, they would not benefit from this. Seetso is the best player in Africa. Tshego Tsiane also would not benefit, but she is a top player who was ranked in the top 200. We should submit Tsiane’s application this year,” he said.

Thipe argued that they are not submitting anything to BISA.  He said there is a need for the total overhaul of the Elite Scholarship Programme.

He said currently tennis players get scholarships to study and play in the United States of America (USA). Thipe said there are good scholarships awarded by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). 

“If we were to invite these coaches to Botswana Games, more than 50 of our players would get scholarships without government input. BNSC should take advantage of NCAA. The current setup is that an athlete is given 100% scholarship, even if their performance drops they continue being in the scholarship,” he said.

Thipe said the Fund would benefit many students if a new model is used. He said athletes under the Elite programme are not being monitored.



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