BAA paints bleak future for junior athletes

Botswana's future: Young athletes parade during last year's opening of the Africa Youth Games. The impasse over teachers' payment threatens their progress
Botswana's future: Young athletes parade during last year's opening of the Africa Youth Games. The impasse over teachers' payment threatens their progress

The Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) vice-president, Glody Dube has expressed fears over the future of the victorious junior 4 x400metres team that scooped gold at the Africa Junior Championships in Ethiopia on Sunday.

The junior men’s team has been on the rise since announcing its arrival during the Africa Youth Games, a competition Botswana hosted last May.

Dube who went with the team as the manager told Mmegi Sport the impasse between the government and the Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA) over teachers’ involvement in sport threatens the future of the team – and that of many other upcoming athletes.

He said they encountered difficulties in assembling the team for the continental competition, which ended in Ethiopia on Sunday. 

“We had to look for athletes around the country as these youngsters are still in schools and it is not school holiday yet. The team did not go into camp because we assembled at the last minute,” he said.

The former Olympics 800 metres finalist said the athletes do not train when at school as result of the teachers-government impasse.

Teachers are not involved in extra-curriculum activities after demanding to be paid for their efforts. Dube said this has affected the fitness of the athletes as it was evident during the Ethiopia trip that some lacked in technique.

Dube, however, said they were to make a report about the trip and from there they would decide on the way forward.

 He however said the association intended to benchmark from countries that have experienced similar challenges such as South Africa.  He said it was in the best interest of the association to protect and nurture raw talent. He applauded the team’s efforts despite all the problems encountered preparing for the Ethiopia trip.  “No one can dispute that these young boys have talent, but without proper training the talent might go to waste.

“One should bear in mind that these boys are also human, so they may get frustrated if things are not prepared properly for them. We are trying to guard against that,” he said. He said the association intends to gradually introduce the youngsters into the senior team, blending them with seasoned athletes such as Pako Seribe and Isaac Makwala. “I cannot go into detail at the moment on how we are going to help the team as we are yet to have a meeting, but I can assure you we cannot just let these promising athletes go to waste.” The relay team was part of the athletics team that brought home a haul of three medals. The 4x 100metres won silver while there was gold in the 400m won by Karabo Sibanda. The 4x400metre team is expected to continue their quest for more gold when they compete at the Africa Youth Games in Mauritius in May.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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