Following Isaac Makwala’s 400m record-breaking exploits on Sunday, the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) has renewed calls for improved funding.
BAA vice president Glody Dube argues the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) should distribute government grants based on performance and not just popularity.
Dube is adamant that the criteria used to reward the BNSC grant is more ‘political’ rather than practical. He said despite being one the most consistent sporting codes in the country in terms of results, athletics still receives a smaller grant.
“We have sat down with the BNSC on numerous occasions trying to show them that we as an association this is what we bring to the table, so we that could be rewarded according to our performances but to no avail,” he said.
The former middle distance runner also said that in some countries grants are awarded equally, and it is a model they would accept as it is fair.
“These athletes do not only represent themselves or the association, but the nation at large, so they are like ambassadors. When they perform well, many people would want to know more about Botswana and this can improve the tourism sector. This is why we are calling for a larger amount,” he said.
Dube also said BAA’s proper development structures are the reason why their athletes excel. He said the development of the code was hampered by the Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA), where teachers demanded allowances for involvement in sports.
He, however, noted that the association has appointed a full time coach in Goodhope to help with the development of athletes. “Most of our junior athletes pursue their studies at Goodhope Senior Secondary School which is the reason why we decided to appoint a full time coach at Goodhope.
We have helped those who are not schooling to find accommodation around the area,” he said.
Dube said the support from the BNSC to the athletes has improved amid the realisation that one can make a living from sports.
“I plead with the private sector to invest in these young athletes from a tender age rather than to come to the party when they are at a senior level as has been the case in the past. That on its own can motivate these athletes to perform better,” he said.
BAA has arguably been one of the most consistent sporting code as in the past Dube became the first athlete to reach an Olympic final, a feat he achieved in 2000. Kabelo Kgosiemang and Gable Garenamotse also performed well in the long and high jump events, respectively.
Former sprinter, California Molefe won a silver medal in 400m race at the 2006 IAAF World Indoor Championships, becoming the first Motswana to win a major international medal.
Amantle Montsho became the first ever Motswana world champion when she won the 400m women’s title in 2011. In 2012, 800m runner Nigel Amos brought home Botswana’s first ever Olympic medal when he scooped silver at the 2012 games. He also won gold at the World Junior Championships in 2012.
Youngsters like Karabo Sibanda and Baboloki Thebe have already provided a glimpse into the future after scooping gold medals in the 400m and 200m races, respectively, at the second African Youth Games in 2014.
They were also part of the 4x400m relay team that brought home gold from the Ethiopia Junior African Championships in April this year.